Retiree donates fortune to Defense Ministry
Kim Yong-cheol, 89, had worked for Korea Irrigation Association, now known as Korea Rural Community Corporation, for over 20 years. He founded and ran a midsized textile company in Gwangju, then sold his facilities to the government and amassed a personal fortune.
With the government money, Kim initially thought he would establish a foundation or a school to give back to society. But he recently changed his mind and turned it over to the Defense Ministry.
“There are 1.3 billion people just west of the Korean Peninsula [in China], North Korea and Russia are to the north of us and Japan is on the east side of us,” Kim said. “Considering the geopolitical situation of South Korea, I felt improving national security was a top priority.”
Kim said he hopes other people will also join in contributing to the government.
“Money is dear to everybody, and I’m no exception. Money is as valuable as the blood that circulates in a man’s body. But we have to keep in mind that money can be used as poison or as medicine, depending on how it is spent.”
Kim, who has three children, one son and two daughters, said he didn’t tell his children about his donation because they are still young and ought to carry out their lives without depending on his money.
“My children will probably learn that I donated all my assets when the story goes out and they might feel regretful about the news,” Kim said. “But I’m sure they will understand my intentions.”
The Defense Ministry said it will invest Kim’s money to build a center to conduct research on new environment-friendly materials. The center will focus on developing new substances that could be applied in cutting-edge weapons designs, such as micro missiles or electromagnetic pulse systems.
“The amount of money I donated to the ministry is still not enough, and I hope the Defense Ministry will also contribute some of its own funds to keep the research continuing steadily,” Kim said. “I also hope the construction of the research center will be completed within this year.”
By Jeong Yong-soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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