Elderly couple donates building to KAIST for science and technology

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Elderly couple donates building to KAIST for science and technology

Samsung Brush Chairman Jang Seong-hwan and his wife Ahn Ha-ock at KAIST in Daejeon. [KAIST]

Samsung Brush Chairman Jang Seong-hwan and his wife Ahn Ha-ock at KAIST in Daejeon. [KAIST]

 
A couple in their 90s donated a building worth some 20 billion won ($17.6 million) to KAIST, the university announced Sunday.
 
“Samsung Brush Chairman Jang Seong-hwan and his wife Ahn Ha-ock donated their real estate in Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam District, to KAIST to be used toward the education and training of bright minds in the field of science and technology,” the university said in its statement.
 
The donation has a lot to do with Jang's successful 91-year life journey, Jang told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday.  
 
Born in North Korea’s Hwanghae Province in 1930, before the Korean War and division of the Korean Peninsula, Jang moved south when he turned 18. He started working for a manufacturer of container materials for cosmetic products. He was so successful by 1992 that he was able to build a factory in Tianjin, China, to manufacture cosmetic brushes. The business grew to manufacture brushes of all kinds, including for cleaning.
 
But Jang never stopped pursuing his studies.
 
“I had to work as I studied for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in order to pay for my tuition,” Jang told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday. “I hope to be of some help to some students who might be doing the same today.”
 
Jang’s wife Ahn said that they had been thinking about donating to a university in Korea for a while.
 
“It’s something we’ve dreamed about for ages,” she said. “If what we give can be used to advance the nation’s skills in technology and science, we’d be more than grateful.”
 
The couple added that they ultimately decided to donate to KAIST after they saw how the university used a 35-billion-won donation a friend of theirs made a few years ago.
 
KAIST President Lee Kwang-hyung in a statement thanked Jang and Ahn for their donation and said that the university will “do all it can to ensure that the donation is used to train the world’s best minds.”
 
The university and the couple held a ceremony to seal the donation at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Saturday.  
 
According to KAIST, a total of 375 billion won had been donated to KAIST from January 1994 to February 2021, of which 44 percent were donated by businesspeople and another 40 percent by ordinary citizens.  
 
BY PARK HYUNG-SOO, ESTHER CHUNG   [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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