By John Redmond
A recent campaign by a popular expat pub in Seoul raised much-needed money to relieve the burden of patients suffering from cancer, Korea's leading cause of death.
Titled "cancer sux," the fundraising drive was put together by 3 Alley Pub owners Canadian Albert Ryan and New Zealander Bernie Mullin.
Focusing on St Mary's cancer unit of Hannam Hospital, through a series of donations, raffles, t-shirt and bracelet sales, the staff managed to raise 5.5 million won in a little over a month, for children suffering from cancer.
According to research supported by a grant from the National Cancer Center, the disease has been the leading cause of death in Korea since 1983.
It has become a major public health concern, the most common being thyroid cancer with 46,549 patients in 2011, up 9 percent. Stomach cancer topped the list until 2010.
Data from the World Cancer Research Fund International places Korea at 24th on the global chart of cancer frequency by country. Denmark was rated the highest, followed by Ireland and Australia.
"Annually, over 190,000 patients are newly diagnosed with cancer in Korea, and one out of four deaths is due to cancer," states the research paper from Cancer Research and Treatment.
Ryan said that his aim was to give back to the community in any way possible.
"If we can help even one person that would be a start. I just can't stand back and watch people suffer," he told The Korea Times in an interview.
"I figured a bar would be the easiest way to go," he said.
"So we just set everything up with our staff wearing the t-shirts and we had regular events," he continued.
Other bars participating in the initiative were Sin Bin and Rocky Mountain Tavern.
The money raised will be given to the head of the cancer unit, Dr. Kim, at a ceremony on Jan. 10.
Mullin, who is about to return to New Zealand, recently lost his younger sister to leukemia.