Exemplary charity

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Exemplary charity

Jackie Chan, the kung fu film star, has said he will donate all of his assets - around $400 billion - to charity. Already a regular donor to charity, Chan has said that before he dies he will empty his bank accounts and give his wealth not to his own family, but to society. His plan is in accordance with the idea that you enter the world with nothing, and you should leave the world with nothing.

The movie star’s acts are similar to those of philanthropist and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, the head of Microsoft. Even though they have each amassed massive fortunes, they still don’t think it belongs to them. They lead frugal lives and firmly believe that leaving children a large inheritance is unhealthy for them.

Chan has a son who is also in the entertainment business. The father revealed his strict views on child-rearing when he said, “If my son is competent enough, he won’t need his father’s money. If not, I can’t let him waste his father’s money in vain.”

Buffett has donated more than 80 percent of his assets to charity and has repeatedly emphasized that passing down an inheritance of such magnitude so that one’s children will never need to work will take away their motivation in life. Gates, whose assets are estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars, pledged to donate everything, minus $10 million for his family.

These are great examples of warmhearted wealthy people who prioritize spending money in positive ways over making money.

In Korea, there are also a few such people who live up to the concept of noblesse oblige. One who fits the bill is Lyu Keun-cheol, the doctor of Oriental medicine who donated $38.6 million, almost everything he had, to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. He is so frugal that he has been wearing the same shoes for 20 years, and his clothes are ridden with holes.

However, philanthropy is not very common in Korea. Even when a person decides to do so, it is difficult to get family members to understand. Among all donations, posthumous monetary gifts make up a very little portion in Korea compared with advanced countries.

As we are going through hard times, donations from the rich are desperately needed more than ever. Despite the financial crisis, it is reported that wealthy Americans like Buffett and Gates will donate even more to charities.

We respect these men not because of their wealth, but because of their generosity.

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