On Wednesday this week, my partner and I participated in one of Hansalim’s ‘Helping Hands’ activities. We joined a small group of members from North Seoul Hansalim Co-op to visit a producer community a couple of hours journey from Seoul. We arrived at around 9:30

Here is a translation of his message. I hope you enjoy it!


As a farmer, I think it was about 18 years ago that I started to taste drugs. It was in the spring of 2002, after returning to Korea in May 2001, when I met a Busan ‘drug boss’ with a bushy haircut and coy eyes that made it difficult to guess his intentions at a lecture by Cheon Kyu-seok at the Changnyeong Symbiotic Farming Village. His group approached me, saying they wanted persimmons and chestnuts.

He was Lee Seung-hong, the director of Busan Hansalim. At that time, there were no producers supplying persimmons and chestnuts to Busan Hansalim, so with the recommendation of Dr. Chun Kyu-seok, we shared our intention to supply pesticide-free persimmons and organic chestnuts.

Soon after, a half-dozen ‘drug dealers’ called the Goods Committee came by, each with a packed lunch, to help out at the farm and to see if we were worthy of a “helping hand” drug fix. I’ve been around the block enough to know what position a city person expects. Those who came to decide the supply of persimmons were entitled to be bossy. However, when the ‘superior’ (gab) came to do the work for the ‘inferior’ (eul), they didn’t even think of expecting to be served, so they packed their own lunches. It was a bizarre experience for a novice farmer who was accustomed to the snobbery of urban ‘Gabeul culture’.

They brought a drug with an irresistible combination of ingredients: labouring alongside farmers with the heart of humility, kindness, and gratitude. It was the year after I returned to the farm, and in my foolish state of being neither a farmer nor an office worker, I was just blown away by this very powerful drug.

Since then, they have been relentlessly supplying farmers with these ‘deadly narcotics’. In the spring, they supplied persimmon pickers, and in the fall, they supplied chestnut pickers and persimmon pickers. Then, at the end of the year, they held a ‘drug revival’ and made a group effort, but this year, when the revival was canceled due to the outbreak of a strange virus called Corona, they sent the drugs in boxes. Handwritten letters, hand cream, shawls, lemon tea, and invisible kindness! Ah, the persistence of these people… ?

How can a farmer escape from their drugs? I have no choice but to farm persimmons next year…!

Translation by DeepL.com, Jonathan Dolley and Hanna Son