By Han Sang-hee
Korean movie star Jang Dong-gun
has become a goodwill ambassador for the World Food Programme (WFP), a food aid branch under the United Nations.
The 36-year-old star was given the honor during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Asian general meeting's closing ceremony in Hong Kong. The CGI was inaugurated in 2005 under the leadership of former President of the United States Bill Clinton to become a non-partisan catalyst for bringing together global leaders to discuss challenges in the world and work for solutions.
Some 400 figures, including former President Clinton and Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, were present.
"Personally, it is a great honor, but I feel great responsibility and also pressure", he said during an interview with the Yonhap news Agency in Hong Kong.
Jang explained that his grandparents and father, born in North Korea, and also him starring in movies that were somewhat related to the country, may have contributed in his choice as ambassador. Movies such as "Taegukgi
: Brotherhood of War" (2003) and "Typhoon
" (2005) both carried storylines pertaining to North Korea.
"I became naturally interested in North Korean issues. It was then that I was asked to become the goodwill ambassador. Knowing that one of the major activities of the WFP is donating food supplies to North Korea, I accepted", he said.
The actor admitted that he hesitated before accepting the offer, as he knew it was an important position and also because he was doubtful as to whether he had the ability to carry out such a role.
Fellow ambassadors of the world's largest humanitarian agency include actress Drew Barrymore, businessman and philanthropist Warren Buffet and Brazilian soccer star Kaka. Jang will be the ninth ambassador of the WFP.
The actor will participate in various programs aimed to remind nations of the need of food aid for developing countries.
"I will do my best and actively participate in these programs. I will put effort in making, not only those who like Jang Dong-gun
, but also all those who live in Korea and elsewhere in Asia, realize the importance of these aid issues", said Jang.
Jang has also been known to have great interest in aiding North Korea.
"There are about 850 million people suffering from famine, and among them, 500 million are known to be Asian, and of them six million are North Korean. The global community must show interest in terms of humanitarianism", he said.
When asked about the rocky terms between the two Koreas and the outcome, which can effect immediate donations, Jang explained that the WFP was carrying out thorough monitoring and that there should be no problems in delivering food supplies to people in need.
"WFP has a plan of offering $503 million worth of food supplies to the North and has been continuously asking for support from other nations. We are also a very important nation in supporting the North. I am planning to meet government officials to ask for thorough support for smoother humanitarian donations", Jang said, adding that he was willing to visit North Korea when given the chance.
Jang, who is a big star not only here, but also in many parts of Asia, is waiting for the release of his new Hollywood film, "Laundry Warrior" ("The Warrior's Way
"), slated for next year.
WFP, launched in 1961, provides food to some 90 million people per year. Its headquarters are in Rome and it has more than 80 offices around the world.