South Korean's kind gesture generates online buzz

Mr Choi Dae Ho, 22, may be a black belt in taekwondo, but instead it was his gentle act of chivalry that put him at the centre of online buzz.

The taekwondo coach from Korea who gave his slippers up to an old woman on a Singapore bus said that the 'small' gesture was something he felt he had to do or he would have regretted it, even though he had to sprint back to his hostel as the 'pavements were scorching'.

"I was on my way back to my hostel from Sentosa. When I saw this old lady without any shoes board the bus, I gave her my par of slippers," he said.

Despite the old woman's initial objections, 22-year-old Mr Choi Dae Ho had knelt in front of her -- who had teared up by then -- taken off his own flip-flops and put them gently on her feet.

"The old lady was touched and teared a bit.

"Although we could not understand each other, I could sense her gratitude from our eye contact," he said.

A photo of him in the act, which took place last Saturday (Feb 2) was captured by a fellow member of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Peace Corps without his knowledge and has since gone viral.

"I was very close to my grandmother. Ever since I was young, she took care of me.

"She passed away when I was 15, but I've always had a deep affection and respect for grandmothers.

"So when I saw the old lady without shoes, I felt the need to help her.

"It was a small gesture on my part, and it was something I felt I had to do, or I would regret it," said the Incheon native and Jeonju University undergraduate.

"Since I started learning taekwondo (when I was five years old), I've met many good masters and seniors.

"I've learnt a lot from them on how to be a good person. Learning taekwondo not only develops one's body but also character.

"Taekwondo takes priority in my life," he said.

After alighting from the bus, Mr Choi had to sprint the entire eight minutes back to the hostel as the "pavements were scorching".

Mr Choi, whose act has been linked to another kind gesture in which a New York policeman bought boots for a barefooted homeless man, said he was surprised by the online reaction as he "did not think it was such a big deal".

Mr Choi is single and says he is not from a well-to-do family, and wants to become a taekwondo instructor for the handicapped.

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