- Mary Kim
#BEAUTIFUL The Happy Story of The 'Happy Bakery' Has All of Korea in Tears
This is the greatest story we've ever told
In the quaint town of Nam-Hae, tucked in the southern most tip of Gyeong-Sang province is a sleepy unassuming bakery called 'Happy Bakery'. This most unextraordinary bakery holds within its' painted green doors, a most special story that has captivated and warmed the hearts of Koreans. The story as these stories often do, is about a baker, Kim SSang Sik (with two S's) or Mr. SSang, for the purpose of telling the story, and his wonderful baking talents second only to his beautiful soul. You see, in this small town where children's dreams are a little smaller, waiting for them come morning will be fresh bread, yogurt, and not the least our Happy Baker and his 'Happy Bakery'.
Mr. SSang recounts his childhood very matter-of-factly, deliberately not lingering on details he doesn't want to relive. He was born to a family well off until his second grade when his family lost everything. Til this day, his mother confesses her guilt had she been able to feed him better when he was a child he might've grown taller. Now in his older years, that child has grown into a giant with an appetite for the wonderful that no amount of milk can suffice.
Every morning outside of the 'Happy Bakery' is a shelf of bread with drinking yogurt with a sign that reads, "Children take one of each, you must eat well to do well in school". The children love him, and their parents think of him as godsend as the families in the town are not wealthy by any means. Mr. SSang our baker with the funny name (in Korean it's rare to have a name with a double S consonant) have been donating bread for over a decade to various charities while working as baker and when he opened the 'Happy Bakery', his first which he owned, he knew he wanted to give back to the children of the town and in doing so, condole the hungry child whose mother couldn't afford to buy milk.
Our baker doesn't own much, a 13 year old car is the only thing under his name he says. During the pandemic he had to borrow money to keep the bakery afloat. He doesn't care for money, stating as he lives alone there isn't much money could do for him. He estimates he gives out 2 thousand dollars in bread a month to children, not an exorbitant amount compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by some celebrities, but to the baker who had to borrow money to stay afloat, it is everything he could give. He says in an interview from You Quiz on the Block, that he was once so poor for 10 days he couldn't afford to give the yogurt. The bread he could give because he was able to make it but he couldn't make yogurt for children.
The story of our baker has struck a chord with the whole country. In a time when there is so much to blame so many people for, the story of the 'Happy Bakery' has paused, if only briefly, the vitriol of the times to reflect on the warmth still prevalent today, just hidden in the news' feed. Since this story has been reported the baker is frankly bombarded with good will, thousands of dollars in donations, a charitable grant from 'LG' one of Korea's most powerful conglomerates, and an appearance on one of Korea's most beloved show. But all of this doesn't seem to impress Mr. SSang, when asked what he would like to do now his means have changed, he answers he would like to bake bread for the family that was his so many years ago , to have his family eat his bread without worrying about the cost of milk. Bravo Mr. SSang.