Mr. Won Kyung-sun was a remarkable man. He was born in 1914 to a poor farmer in what is now North Korea. When he recently died at the age of 100, he left a legacy of organic living that has inspired millions of people. In fact, the Korea Herald referred to him as the godfather of organic farming.
By 1955, Mr. Won had relocated to an area near Seoul, South Korea. He organized a farming cooperative comprised of a vegetable store and the first organic farm in South Korea. He called his farm Pulmuone Farm and accepted the work of hungry neighbors in exchange for vegetables.
He mentored a man named Mr. Seung-Woo Nam, who went on to found Pulmuone Food Company, which now sells all-natural foods internationally.
During the 1990s, Mr. Won helped fight world poverty on the Board of Directors for Korea Food for the Hungry International (KFHI). He also acquainted the United Nations with his style of organic farming in 1992 at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Mr. Won Kyung-sun is known as one of the leading pioneers of Korean Church History,” said Dr. Jung Sup Chung, KFHI president. “He only finished primary school, but his servant leadership based on biblical worldview has reached to all leaders. He was a living model of humble and gentle character like Jesus and has run through his race firmly holding the word of God. He was an environmental activist, who emphasized the importance of organic farming and brought up many followers. Truly, he was a man of God respected by all people.”
“I met with Mr. Won numerous times during my visits to Korea,” remembers Randy Hoag, a former Food for the Hungry (FH) president. Hoag was impressed that Mr. Won was still working on his farm in his late 80s and 90s. He also remembers that Mr. Won said he was quite sick in his 60s until he switched from white to brown rice. “Mr. Won left me with two life lessons: Don’t ever retire and eat brown rice,” said Hoag.
Dave Evans, currently FH’s U.S. president, said, “Conventional agricultural practices have certainly helped to lift hundreds of millions of people out of chronic hunger. There is a growing recognition that more sustainable and ecological ways of farming can benefit people, wildlife and the natural environment.”
As a result, conventional farming is now embracing some of the kinds of sustainable practices promoted by Mr. Won. “It’s a huge win for the world’s hungry and the world’s environment,” said Evans.