The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has made life harder for most people. But some have borne the brunt of it. In order to help them, the local government of Yeongdeungpo-gu in western Seoul set up three special stores where district residents can get daily necessities without having to pay for them.
The special stores are named “zero-cost stores,” according to the Seoul Yeongdeungpo-gu Council of Social Welfare. The stores opened on Jan. 18 to help local residents facing financial difficulties in times of the virus.
'Zero-cost store' (Kan Hyeong-woo/The Korea Herald)
“Anyone who thinks his or her daily life is hard can come. Those people can use our store once a month, up to two times,” said Han Yong-hoon, manager of one of the zero-cost stores.
“If they continue to have financial difficulties, we encourage them to have consultations with the district office. We can extend our aid program to one-year-long support in that way.”
Residents only have to bring their identification card with them when visiting the zero-cost stores so officials can verify whether each visitor actually lives in the district area and qualifies for the aid program.
Each individual can choose up to four different products. The available items offer a wide range of daily necessities, including rice, ramen noodles, toilet paper, soap, shampoo and clothes.
A customer looks around the zero-cost store on Tuesday in western Seoul. (Kim Hae-yeon/The Korea Herald)
“I’m thankful because (they are) helping in hard times like this. I think people who are better off have to pay for all this with taxes. I appreciate that, too,” Na Kyoung-ja, a customer at the zero-cost store, told The Korea Herald.
“I’m grateful for those who support this. For instance, (those providing) the bread. (The stores) can have them because of such help.”
Residents hope they are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and that it would soon mean a rebound in the economy. But until then, the zero-cost stores plan to stay open until the end of this year.
The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation
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