Cardinal Stephen Kim the archbishop of Seoul died in February, and donated his eyes to help those who can't see. This was picked up by the different media and there was a big jump in the number of those that expressed a wish to donate their organs. It was an increase of 2.4 times what it was last year. A government agency said that so far this year there has been 177,063 donations.
The understanding of Confucianism in Korea in the treatment of the dead is one of the reasons for hesitancy to donate organs. Korea has not kept up with the other developed countries in this area but this is now beginning to change. In the past few years it was only about 80,000 donations a year; this year we have seen the big increase.
The Cardinal's donation and the efforts of religious groups and the government brought about a great leap forward. There has also been a great increase in donations for welfare programs in Korea. The daily newspapers have reported on this recently. Today in all the Sunday Masses we will be taking up a collection for the needy- being Almsgiving Sunday .
One-body One-spirit Movement in Korea arose out of preparations for the 44th International Eucharistic Congress in Seoul in 1989. The movement started with about 3,700 Catholics, including the late Cardinal Kim and his priests, promising to donate their eyes and other organs upon death. This was the first "mass movement" for such donations. This has been a work in progress and has since spread to all the dioceses in the country.
To go to the English web site of the One-body and One -spirit movement click here.