More than a magazine

A vendor sells The Big Issue outside Kangnam Station. (PHOTO: An Ah-hyun)

A vendor sells The Big Issue outside Kangnam Station.
(PHOTO: An Ah-hyun)

Have you ever seen men selling magazines in front of subway stations? They often wear red jackets with name tags shouting, “Hello. This is The Big Issue!” Until recently, these magazine vendors were homeless. The company that publishes The Big Issue employs the homeless to help them stand on their own feet. In fact, some of them are able to rent housing through their work.

The Big Issue started in England in 1991 and came to Korea in 2010. According to their website, their goal is to “provide economic freedom to the homeless, demonstrate the potential of the homeless to society, and present a new company paradigm to the market.” It is through the talents of numerous volunteers from all walks of life that each issue is created. Anyone can contribute.

The Big Issue vendors work on commission. When you pay 3,000 won for a copy of the magazine, the vendor receives 1,600 won. A vendor who works in front of Exit 7 at Kangnam Station told the Hakbo, “I need to sell 20-30 magazines a day to reach my sales goal.” When asked if he had a message for Kangnam University students, he said, “I hope more students know about what we do and subscribe to the magazine. We would deeply appreciate it.”

So, if you see someone selling The Big Issue, be sure to buy a copy. Or, if you don’t, at least say hello. Either way, knowing you support what they do will certainly brighten their day.

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