[NOTEBOOK]Amid the Greed, Goodness ShinesPark Kyung-moon, president of Kyungsung University, held mourning rites at the mortuary of Dongeui Medical Center for two days last weekend, where university professors and 20 employees politely received condolences. The scene seemed proper for the death of a university founder.
Surprisingly, the person being mourned was Kwon Tae-seong, who barely had a relationship with the university until a few days before his death.
The deceased contributed land valued at more than 5 billion won ($3.8 million) to Kyungsung University last Friday and died the next day at the age of 80.
At the end of the last year, he was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer and hospitalized.
He made a phone call to Kyungsung University on May 4 from his sickbed in intensive care and expressed his intention to donate his entire estate to the university.
He said he had purchased the land to build educational institutions to help poor youths, in the belief that no one should have to forgo an education due to lack of money.
Yet, he did not have enough time or money to carry out his plan. He explained that he would donate his land to the university in the hope that his dream would be realized.
Mr. Kwon reportedly lived a frugal life despite being the owner of a construction company and a textile plant. While he was alive, he always wore old clothes, but he never hesitated to help poor children.
Recently, heartwarming stories such as this have been reported one after another throughout the nation. Newspapers frequently publish stories of people who have spent their lives in menial jobs such as needlework, cooking aide, waitress, etc. donating their entire savings toward helping others.
Mun Bok-nam, who died last Friday at the age of 63, was the heroine in one of these touching stories. She ran a beauty salon for 40 years and managed to buy a three-story building valued at 1 billion won. She left the building to the Korean Red Cross before she died.
Many people remember her helping orphans and physically disabled people live productive lives and study while she was alive.
The world becomes a rougher, tougher place every day, yet we find significant numbers of people who place the well-being of society over their own interests. Often they themselves have struggled to save through hardship.
Whenever I come across these heartwarming examples, I become aware that our society is still healthy and has a bright future.
Although also more visible are those who would wish the poor or sick away from their back yard, and the daily paper provides plenty of examples of petty, self-seeking individuals and examples of regional egoism, our world has the power to recover its benevolence because of these generous people.
The beneficiaries of their good deeds are not only the schools and organizations to which they donate the fruits of a life's work.
We all owe them a large debt.
-The writer is a reporter at the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Yong-baek