Korean march promotes Rotary
Kwang Heum Baek, 2007-08 governor of District 3630, led 5,000 Rotarians on a 374-mile trek through Korea to promote Rotary. The march raised US$718,000 and drew 458 new members. Photo courtesy District 3630
District Governor Kwang Heum Baek wasn’t too proud to peel off his sock and show his blisters after he and more than 5,000 Rotarians trekked through Gyeongsangbuk-do Province in Korea to promote Rotary.
A resounding success, the effort drew new club members, raised money, and generated positive press coverage for Rotary.
Rotarians in District 3630 marched relay-style through the province every weekend from July through December 2007. Baek, the district’s 2007-08 governor, was one of only 11 Rotarians who walked the entire 374 miles.
Along the route, participants donated their time, money, and resources to communities in need, providing free medical care, coordinating blood drives, and raising money for scholarships.
The march generated US$718,000 and drew 458 new club members. (During his term, 700 new members joined clubs in District 3630, Korea’s largest district, with 106 clubs and 6,018 Rotarians, according to Baek.)
This innovative approach to promoting Rotary was Baek’s brainchild. Though his primary aim was to raise awareness about the organization and increase membership, he also wanted to inspire Rotarians to demonstrate Service Above Self. The march was covered in local and national newspapers and on radio and television.
Generating excitement about the event was Baek’s greatest challenge, he says. Club members were initially reluctant to take on such an immense project, so he relied on support from past district governors and rallied Rotarians to the task. In the end, the effort was wildly popular.
"The march began in the middle of a hot summer. Rain or shine, we walked and were greeted by Rotarians with a great deal of enthusiasm," Baek said. "Their enthusiasm is the driving force of District 3630."