Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fair Trade Day, 2012

A fair trade stall operator takes a break from
promoting fair trade philosophy and products
to smile for the camera.

Fair Trade Gwangju is BACK!

This last Saturday was Fair Trade Day 2012, and thanks to Beautiful Coffee, a fair trade festival was held out in Cheomdan Jigu, in the lovely park next to the lake across from GIST. Beautiful Coffee is a subsidiary organisation within the nation-wide Beautiful Store franchise and network.

Fair trade iced tea stall workers
take a break to clap along
with the musical performers up on stage.

Thanks to Shin Yejung from the Beautiful Store and the manager of the whole event, and to Lee Seunghee from Beautiful Coffee for helping the coordination of our visit there, along with the good Kim Jihyun of GIC. Thanks to Jihyun too for continuing to oversee Fair Trade Gwangju's participation in the event despite her personally extremely busy week.

Kim Yul translates and explains
about the
recent development and rapid growth
in popularity of fair trade in Aotearoa/ New Zealand

Thanks also goes to Kim Yul who did a wonderfully admirable support job translating a talk told twice, to two groups of fantastically attentive students. Most seemed to be from Pungam High School. It must be a high quality institution there!

They learned a bit about how the student city of Dunedin and the capital city of Wellington were both granted official fair trade status in 2009. Also Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand, was just recognised formally as being a fair trade city this month. Auckland has about the same population as Gwangju but is much more spread out across the land, so people have to travel further to meet each other to talk about and to buy fair trade products, so that makes their achievement all the more amazing. Congratulations, Auckland!

Yul also told them about how the main New Zealand franchise fair trade store Trade Aid imported just eight tonnes of fair trade coffee beans in 2002, but ten years later it is all the way up to 1,000 tonnes. That's the amount of fair trade coffee drunk in one year within a total population of about the same size as Busan. Wow; "Kiwi" people are very thirsty for fair trade coffee!

Yul also explained about how the principles of fair trade make a fair trade company like Trade Aid different from a common company like Starbucks. Three of the more unusual key guiding ideas are transparency, accountability, and respect for the farmers and the workers. For example, we can see that "transparency" and "accountability" are important to Trade Aid because the not-for-profit company reports publicly each year, including putting their budget online. The Beautiful Store in Korea also makes its financial reports public online too.

Trade Aid has so much respect
for its coffee bean farmers,
it puts pictures of the actual farmers
on their packets of coffee.

We can see "respect" for the farmers and workers of Trade Aid products in many ways; for example, Trade Aid
pays a stable and high price for coffee beans, and this is above the world average. Trade Aid also
returns about a third of company profits each year directly to the farmers. Furthermore,
Trade Aid even
honours the farmers themselves by placing photos of the real coffee bean farmers from each area on the front of their packets of coffee. These pictures include quotes of the farmers' own words explaining why fair trade is so important to them and their families.

We also talked briefly about how we all have the power to talk with our families, our friends, our school-mates and teachers, and even other people in our churches and clubs or hagwons about things like fair trade. Talking leads to thinking, and thinking leads to action, or living a different way. While we may not be able to set up our own shop or import fair trade products from overseas, we can contribute to the ongoing development and growth of fair trade merely by talking about it with everyone.

Finally, we also considered how Gwangju city is the birth-place of the modern move for democracy in South Korea, and how during the May 18 movement in 1980 for many days there was no rule of law, and yet people treated each other fairly, and despite the absense of police no crime was committed throughout the city. In this modern smaller global village thirty-two years later, we can take that idea, that spirit of democracy, and that feeling of fairness out into the world beyond Gwangju by voting with our money; KRW1,000 is a vote for a company and its way of treating its workers.

Students' colourful posters were on display,
helping explain fair trade to everyone at the festival.

In two final notes of thanks, first goes to Zebadiah Arrington and Su Go for the custom-designed T-shirt. You can check out a bit of what they do on facebook at the wall named Museum of Graffiti Art, or else right here.

Last but not least, a very special thanks to journalist Jong Suyeon of igoodnews for the use of all these lovely photographs (except for the Trade Aid packet of coffee).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day With Coffee, Chocolates

Celebrate World Fair Trade Day With Coffee, Chocolates

The Korea Times - 05-07-2009
By Cathy Rose A. Garcia - Staff Reporter

When you sip a cup of coffee or snack on a bar of chocolate, chances are you don't think about where the coffee beans are from or the farmers who grew the cacao beans.

It's hard to imagine that the simple act of buying coffee or chocolate has the power to change people's lives, but thanks to "fair trade,'' it does.

Buying fair trade coffee and chocolates, which are also organically grown, helps improve the lives of coffee farmers in Guatemala and Ecuador, cacao farmers in Ghana and Dominican Republic and sugar cane producers in the Philippines.

What is Fair Trade?

For the last 50 years, the fair trade movement has been gaining traction around the world, changing the way people think about buying and consuming products. But it has only recently been gaining ground in Korea.

Fair trade addresses the issues of inequality and injustice in traditional trade, by giving sustainable prices and providing good working conditions for farmers in developing countries. By doing this, farmers and workers are able to improve their lives.

According to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO): ``Fair trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect that seek greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of marginalized producers and workers.''

Paul Myers, WFTO president, says fair trade is not just about money, but also about mutual respect between people.

``Fair trade means, transparency, and accountability and fairness in all of our dealings and those dealings are built on principle. The principles of fair trade mean that we live socially and environmentally sustainable lives; they mean we live for the next generation and not for ourselves; we invest in each other for the good of us all; they mean we enable democratic process and liberty for all people to do the best for themselves and their communities; they mean we favor prosperity for both our friends and our foes in the knowledge that equality and freedom will bring peace and quality of life and make conflict and misery increasingly irrelevant,'' Myers said, on the WFTO Web site.

World Fair Trade Day 2009

Saturday (May 9) is World Fair Trade Day 2009, held every year to generate more awareness about fair trade around the world. This year's theme is ``Big Bang! Beat poverty, beat climate change, beat economic crisis!'' an acknowledgement of fair trade's impact on the economy and environment. It also serves as a wake-up call for people to start a new way of thinking and living.

For World Fair Trade Day, various events, such as festivals, markets, concerts, performances and parades, are being held around the world. Leading international figures such as Sir Paul McCartney, singer Annie Lennox and South African activist Desmond Tutu are also lending their support for World Fair Trade Day 2009.

In Seoul, people can celebrate World Fair Trade Day at the Fair Trade Coffee Village project in Samcheong-dong and Buk-chon, northern Seoul, and the Korea Fair Trade Festival, Deoksu Palace, downtown Seoul.

Coffee Village Project

``Where is Fair Trade Coffee?'' ``Where is Fair Trade Chocolate?'' These are the questions posed by the Korea Fair Trade Association's (KFTA) posters. The answers can be found in selected cafes in Samcheong-dong and Buk-chon, northern Seoul.

Six cafes will be serving fair trade coffee from Latin America and Ghana and sell fair trade chocolates from Friday through Sunday (May 8-10), as part of the Fair Trade Coffee Village Project. These are: Coffee Village Project, namely Cafe Moi, Coffee Factory, Yeondo, Cafe Chai, Kkumkkuneun Yeowoo and Jeon Gwang-su's Coffee House (See map).

Park Chang-soon, president of KFTA, a non-profit organization established to raise awareness of fair trade, said this weekend's event was organized to attract more Korean consumers to join the fair trade movement.

``Through familiar medium such as chocolate and coffee, we'd like to raise public awareness on fair trade, which is yet not well known in Korea. We'd like to call on ethically minded consumers to join the fair trade movement to pay fair price to marginalized producers around the world and reduce irrational distribution and marketing costs," Park said.

The picturesque neighborhoods in Samcheong-dong and Bukchon are already known for having a lot of quaint coffee shops. This weekend, the participating cafes will not just serve coffee but provide informational materials about fair trade.

The coffee and cacao are from the various fair trade groups such as Honduras' Regional de Agricultores Organicos de la Sierra (RAOS); Tanzania's Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union; Ecuador's Federacion Regional de Asociaciones de Pequenos Cafetaleros Ecologicos del Sur del Ecuador (FAPECAFES); Guatemala's Guaya'b Asociacion Civil; and Switzerland's Claro.

Aside from coffee, the cafes will also sell fair trade chocolates, which are all natural and organic. Mascao chocolates, the world's first fair trade chocolate, are made of cacao grown by small-scale farmers in Bolivia and Dominican Republic, and cane sugar from the Philippines. The chocolate is manufactured in Switzerland. It may cost a little bit more than the average chocolate bar, but the quality of the chocolate is well worth the price.

``We hope people come here with family, friends and lovers and enjoy fair trade coffee and chocolate while acting for fair trade," Park said.

Fair Trade Festival

The Korea Fair Trade Festival will be held Saturday at Deoksu Palace, near Seoul City Hall. Six non-government organizations, namely The Beautiful Store, Korean Women's Environmental Network, Fair Trade Korea YMCA Korea, AP-Net and iCoop (Korean Solidarity of Consumer Cooperatives), organized the one-day event.

To promote fair trade among Koreans, the festival features booths selling fair trade products and energetic performances by an African drum and percussion orchestra, independent rock bands and a traditional Korean percussion children's group.

There will also be a fashion show featuring organic fair trade clothing organized by the Seoul National University's Students in Free Enterprise.

Where to Buy Fair Trade Goods

Even after World Fair Trade Day is over, consumers can still get fair trade coffee, chocolates, cereal bars, muesli, candy, pasta and even soccer balls at the online shop Cereal bars are 1,900 won, while Mascao chocolates range from 2,700 won to 5,000 won.

Coffee, chocolates and other fair trade food products are also available at the Hyundai Department Stores in Apgujeong and COEX, southern Seoul.

Another Web site sells fair trade organic cotton clothing. The Beautiful Store, which has shops all over Seoul, sells fair trade coffee from Nepal called ``A Gift from the Himalayas.''

For more information about fair trade, visit:, (Korean)
or (English).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Accounts - update for May

One of the things that makes a fair trade organisation different from a typical purely profit-driven company is the concept - and application - of transparency.

We at the Gwangju Fair Trade Movement GIC Fair Trade Cafe are happy to share our accounts from the previous months of this year.

We welcome questions and inspections of our processes
(just as we always welcome advice, guidance, and help with maintaining records and staffing the cafe)!

Please leave comments on this site.
All serious questions, requests for more information or correspondance will be answered.

[Click on image below for larger view.]

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Fair Trade Cafe... is back!

It has been nearly a year since the last posting to this blog.
A lot has happened here in Gwangju, and in the world.
GIC (the Gwangju International Center) offices have had a full make-over; today a professional sign-writer was putting the finishing touches on the new logo inside the office, to match the new paint-job and refurbishing throughout the rooms.

Meanwhile, here in Gwangju, the Gwangju Fair Trade Movement continues with the goal of supporting local fair trade organisations. We are doing this by promoting and supporting fair trade products available within Korea, here on this website, and by continuing with the Fair Trade Cafe where you can also find samples to buy at the same prices as elsewhere in Korea.

The Fair Trade Cafe has been operating at the Saturday afternoon GIC talk sessions since the middle of last year. As GIC has expanded and upgraded, so has the cafe. Two new workers are regularly on hand to staff the cafe, and make you a hot fresh cup of certified Fairtrade tea, coffee or, now newly available hot chocolate. The staff are bi-lingual and so can chat in Korean or English about fair trade with you or friends you bring to GIC before the talk from 2 -2.30pm, or after the talk from 3.30 - 4.40pm.

The cafe now also stocks milk and creamer, and supplies certified Fairtrade sugar for your drinks. But if you really have a sweet tooth check out the certified Fairtrade chocolate or stawberry jam. The chocolate, just like the sugar, tea, coffee and hot chocolate is supplied from our friends at the Seoul-based Ulim Fairtrade Store, and the stawberry jam is from the local Tesco/HomePlus, as is the certified Fairtrade cinnamon and ground ginger.

Also within Gwangju the coffee craze continues, with more specialty and chain espresso stores opening, and diversifying their product lines. A Twosome Place and Holly's coffee shops both now stock three varities of the smaller 45 gram Divine certified Fairtrade chocolate bars.
Beyond Gwangju, the global economy has changed.
Times have become harder for many people suddenly unemployed.
This will be having an impact on demand for luxury items such as many of those provided by fair trade producers.
This means the role of promoting, supporting, and purchasing fair trade products is more important than ever.
Korea remains a priviledged 'newly developed' country, and thus has an important role as a still under-developed market for fair trade products.

The change in global economy brings new opportunities as some traders are discovering, with the influx of Japanese tourists to Seoul and Busan enticed by the cheaper Korean won as against the Japanese yen.
Japanese consumers are generally more used to the high quality associated with fair trade products, and are used to demanding and finding fair trade products available more widely.
Thus, these times are actually potentially ripe with opportunity for fair trade organisations, particularly those in Seoul and Busan.

So, if you want to go ahead and buy your own supplies, please go straight to the source.
If you would like to 'try before you buy,' you are welcome to meet us down town at GIC on a Saturday afternoon.
We hope to see you there!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Asian Youth Cultural Festival

The inaugural UNESCO Asian Youth Cultural Festival

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 pm

Theme: Fair Trade

- at Chosun University Middle School from 9am,
- at Geumnam-no Peace Park from 1pm
- and at GIC from 2.30pm

Gwangju International Center (GIC) is hosting
the first UNESCO Asian Youth Cultural Festival on June 28th.

This event is being organized as a part of the 2nd UNESCO Asian Youth Forum (at Chosun University, June 26th - 30th)
to help cultivate and support a substantial Asian youth community network.

We are looking for harmony and unity among all youth in Gwangju
overcoming lingual, cultural or other barriers through activities
including campaigns, talks, performances and a cricket competition
for people from diverse and differing cultural backgrounds.

This will be a unique opportunity for all youth to share their knowledge and thoughts on Asia.

Please come and enjoy it all!

The schedule:

9:00 - 12:00 "Fair Trade" parade & performance
from Chosun University to Geumnam-no Peace Park

9:00 - 13:00 Cricket Competition
At Chosun middle school
Sports exchange through learning and competing
- a mixed teams social cricket game at Chosun middle school

13:00 - 17:00 Asian Food Festival
Students' communities from Bangladesh, China, India, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, and Vietnam selling their own traditional cuisine

14:30 - 19:00 Talking About Asia
(at the Gwangju International Center)
'Case Reports: Regional Youth Community Work in Asia'
- by
participants from the second UNESCO Asian Forum

14:00 - 19:00 Asian Market
- Art experiences with local artists (Chalk/ Book/ Folk Art)
- Making group-collaboration art
- Fair trade stall, with information and products provided by Fairtrade Korea Cooperation
- see:

[* English speaking volunteers needed for this stall.
If you know a bit about fair trade products and/or issues,
and can spare some time within these hours,
then please see the details below to contact Jiyeon at GIC.]

16:30 - 21:30 Performance
Peace through performance:
A cappella, Fork, Fusion music, Samulnori, Mongolian band

(062) 226 - 1050 / 2734

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fairtrade sales in New Zealand continue to rocket

Thursday 15 May, 2008

Sales of Fairtrade coffee, chocolate and tea have continued to soar over the last year – with total sales exceeding $7.5 million in 2007. Sales of Fairtrade coffee alone have grown by a whopping 3,404% since 2004. ...

... If you were offered a $1 in exchange for a 50 cent coin – would you make the trade?
Check out this surprising Fairtrade clip on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

World Fair Trade Day was delicious!

Early birds to the events day at GIC on World Fair Trade Day 2008 on Saturday 10th May were treated to free samples of fair trade chocolate. Cups of imported and local fair trade coffee were available for the price of only w500.

By 2.30 p.m. GIC was full with more than 70 people seated or standing. A speaker explained what fair trade is and how it works in different countries, and where to buy fair trade products in Korea.

After the talk more coffee was sampled, and the winning tickets to the fair trade raffle were drawn. Two prize winners were found, with the second prize (worth nearly w50,000, including a fair trade soccer ball made in Pakistan, Beautiful Coffee from Nepal, and ‘Hummingbird’ fair trade organic coffee) going to Paul Park (Park Seong Jun).

The first prize worth more than w100,000 went to one Mr Shin. The first prize pack contained a jute shopping bag full of fair trade tea, coffee, chocolate, a puzzle, a picture frame, a ring box, a soft toy, and a music CD, all of which came from the reputable New Zealand fair trade store Trade Aid.

Following the raffle people stayed to drink more coffee, read or discuss the information on fair trade, and watch the documentary Black Gold. The DVD is available to borrow from the GIC library.

Fair trade tea and coffee is now available in GIC for sampling or enjoying.
Drinks cost a suggested donation price of about 500 won
to maintain the supply and promote fair trade around Gwangju.