The gift of generosityKim Byeong-ho, the chairman of Seojeon Garden, plans to donate land worth 30 billion ($23 million) to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, or Kaist.
He has built up his fortune through hard work and by leading a frugal life.
His family struggled through financial difficulties that prevented him from getting beyond elementary school.
He says he donated the money to Kaist with the hope that the school will produce the best scholars in the fields of science and technology, making Korea a place where everyone is able to live better lives.
Although Kim went through a great deal of hardship to amass his wealth, he has chosen not to keep it for himself but to donate it to further the country’s development. We feel a great deal of respect for his selfless gesture.
Kim has led his life according to his motto, which says that making money is a skill but spending it is an art. He has lived without spending much on himself, but has been generous to others.
He once gave 1 billion won to establish a scholarship fund for talented students from poor families in his hometown of Buan County, North Jeolla.
To celebrate his only son gaining admission to Seoul National University, his entire family has promised to donate their bodies to the medical school for research after their deaths.
Kim’s decision to donate land to Kaist was also made with the agreement of his family. A donation of that size often creates discord within the donor’s family, but that is not the case here. Kim had repeatedly told his son that he would provide him with an education, but that he should not expect to inherit his assets.
In passing on his spirit of noblesse oblige, Kim has given his son something much more valuable than money.
Kim’s son has also made donations to support 10 underprivileged children in developing countries. Last year, Dr. Lyu Keun-chul, a senior figure in the herbal medicine field, made a donation worth around 57.8 billion won to Kaist.
The reason why Kaist was able to win another large donation in such a short period of time is simple.
Kim and Lyu say they donated to Kaist because they were impressed by the initiatives launched by Kaist Chancellor Seo Nam-pyo, who abolished the tenure system and required that all lectures be held in English.
It goes without saying that financial support is essential for universities to develop. Other universities must follow in Kaist’s footsteps to attract donations and continue their growth.