Bullied teenager Jimin Hwang ran away from home, dropped out of school, was assaulted and attempted suicide twice.
Today he is 20 and wants to help others overcome the same problems he did.
"I've been through a lot of difficult times ... I learnt a lot as I grew up."
Hwang moved to New Zealand from Korea when he was 3 and says being a migrant added even more pressure to the problems he faced.
He ran away from home at 15 and says he found it difficult to relate to people and had no friends at school, which he left halfway through year 12. Hwang tried to commit suicide when he was 16 and then again at 17.
The Auckland resident wants others to know they are not alone.
Hwang set up group Friends International to help people, particularly immigrants, network and find jobs.
He says they are getting ripped off and paid as little as $7 an hour or not at all.
"I've seen people getting used here and they want to go back to their own countries."
Hwang organises social outings like paintballing, barbecues and beach trips to help people make friends.
His work is all voluntary and most nights he gets to bed about 3am.
But Hwang says money does not bring happiness.
"Earning and feeling that gain is one part of life, but the family, the love, that's what matters."
Living without a steady income is not scary, he says.
"What's actually scary is losing someone you love."
Hwang is also making a series of documentaries about topics ranging from mental health issues to disabilities. Filming is under way for his first movie about bullying.
Hwang says he wants to "close the divide" between cultures.
His dream is to become an MP or work for the Government.
Go to facebook.com/friendsnz.
- North Shore Times
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