|▲ Palgakhoi Gyeongnam / President Lee Sang-mo|
Palgakhoi is a private organization established to promote awareness of national security, peaceful reunion of the two Koreas, protection of freedom and volunteer activities. 53 people in Busan and South Gyeongsang Province gathered together March 17 1966 to visit Panmunjom after which they formed the 6 Busan divisions and 24 provincial meetings to start activities. The name Palgakhoi was inspired by the octagon pavilion in Panmunjom.
Taking the steering wheel as the 21st president of the Palgakhoi Gyeongnam, Lee Sang-mo has rolled up sleeves to push forward proactive national security campaign under the slogan 'peaceful reunion', 'protection of freedom' and 'social services'.
Lee joined Palgakhoi Changwon in 2007. He served as the 26th president of Palgakhoi Changwon followed by the deputy director and the director of Palgakhoi Gyeongnam before being the 21st president of the provincial branch.
"Regardless organizations, active exchange between members are the key to make a growth. We all have people we don't like. But if I join the dislike group and others also, the organization will likely to fall apart. On the contrary, we need to embrace the drawbacks of each other to make an advance and progress" emphasizes Lee.
The services of Palgakhoi covers far and wide from widows of soldiers to socially disadvantage groups of people including North Korean defectors. Thanks to aggressive actions and engagements under the leadership of Lee, Palgakhoi Gyeongnam has secured now around 3,000 members from 47 divisions. The board members gather together every year for solidarity and finding ways to invite new members to the organization.
They also reward prizes to people who made contributions in categories of national security, public interest, filial piety and role model farmers, workers and fishermen.
"One of our challenging goals is to invite young members to the organization as many of them are rather old. This is the reason that Palgakhoi is seen by others as a conservative organization affiliated to the government which is not true. So we need to start with sub-divisions to invite young members and then to make them shift into the regional head office."
It is notable that Palgakhoi is not supported or receive any funds from government organizations in order to be a politically independent organization.
"What we, the members of Palgakhoi, pursue is nothing but the love of our country and society and the people. In the same respect, all of our activities whether promoting patriotism or helping people in need come from the pure will of our members."
Lee showed his gratitude to the former president Kang Ki-yoon who contributed greatly to opening the Palgakhoi Center recently.
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