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‘Godfather’ of organic farming dies

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Published : 2013-01-08 19:22
Updated : 2013-01-08 19:22

Won Kyung-sun, founder of an organic farming community that inspired the establishment of Pulmuone Food Co., died of old age on Tuesday. He was 100.

He was the nation’s first known organic farmer who campaigned for a community based on love for neighbors and respect for life. His life has been mentioned in school textbooks.

Born in 1914 to a poor farmer in South Pyongan Province in what is now North Korea, he began a farming career at age 16 when his father died.
Won Kyung-sun, founder of “Pulmuone Farm” who laid the cornerstone for Pulmuone Food Co., died of old age Tuesday. He was 100. (Yonhap News)

In 1955, he developed a 3,000-square-meter site in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, as “Pulmuone Farm.” There, he accepted poor neighbors who were willing to work out of hunger as members of his farming community.

To help those orphaned during the Korean War (1950-1953), he worked at Holt Children’s Services from 1958 to 1962.

In 1976, he moved the farm to Yangju, Gyeonggi Province, began organic farming which avoids the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides, and organized a group of organic farmers.

He led a movement to fight poverty as vice president of the Korea chapter of Food for the Hungry International in 1990. In 1992, Won introduced Korean-style organic farming at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He inspired his eldest son and current Democratic United Party lawmaker, Won Hye-young, to found Pulmuone Food, which has grown into a company with 1.5 trillion won in annual sales.

Pulmuone will build a memorial hall in honor of its spiritual leader Won at the LOHAS (Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability) Academy in Goesan, North Chungcheong Province.

He is survived by two sons and five daughters.

By Chun Sung-woo (swchun@heraldcorp.com)

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