[EDITORIALS]A lesson on sharing wealth

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[EDITORIALS]A lesson on sharing wealth

The recent news that Kang Tae-won, an 80-something native of North Korea, donated 27 billion won ($23 million) of his private wealth to charity, is like a rain shower on the dry and heartless world that we live in. Last year he donated anonymously around 10 billion won to Kkotdongne, a welfare facility in Eumseong, North Chungcheong province, for homeless people. We cannot but give this person a big burst of applause for silently doing a good deed.

In the case of Mr. Kang, he offers us something else besides money. He offers the proper outlook on wealth and a decision to share it with others throughout his life.

After Korea's liberation from Japan's colonial rule in 1945, Mr. Kang came to the South. He worked on construction sites, surviving on cheap rice cakes. It is only human nature to hold on tighter to hard-earned wealth. Most people obsess about not only deepening their pockets but on how to preserve and expand it for their descendants. Mr. Kang, however, gave to his less privileged neighbors and did it with a moving message. "If you want your child to grow up right, don't give them a penny."

He also said, "People with money should lead in redistributing their wealth to society. That is the only way that our society can survive." It is a message that cuts to the heart since our society is deeply divided by the gap between the rich and the poor. Of course, the deeds of a few donors cannot resolve the social divide between the wealthy and the poor, but there is no denying that the act of sharing is the nurturing ground to creating a society where all are rewarded duly for their moil and toil. Fortunately, people are more attuned to the act of giving these days.

Businessmen are founding scholarship foundations, putting up money from their pockets. On a smaller scale are the salaried workers who give a certain portion from the monthly salary.

The majority of the corporate donations are made with an eye on tax returns. The government would do well to expand gift tax benefits to individuals and adopt a school curriculum that instills a sense of sharing. That is the smallest of gestures in taking off our hats to people like Mr. Kang.
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