Rep. Chung Mong-joon, his relatives and their Hyundai companies are contributing 500 billion won to inaugurate a charity ― the Asan Sharing Foundation ― in memory of his deceased father, Chung Ju-yung.
The Asan Sharing Foundation sets itself apart from many charity foundations established by other businessmen and corporations in funding the project and some other ways.
A large share of the 500 billion won fund ― 200 billion won to be exact ― comes out of the pocket of Rep. Chung, the largest shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries. He is contributing the money on his own, unlike many blemished businessmen who have in the past been forced to spend their way out of scandals.
More often than not, those disreputable business tycoons, instead of spending their own money, had their companies make contributions to establish charities. Of course, they took undue credit for the ostensibly praiseworthy corporate acts. Even uglier were those who committed themselves to creating charity foundations but never made good on their word.
True, it may not be said that Rep. Chung, who has presidential ambitions, was entirely disinterested when he decided to donate as much as 200 billion won. He may have said to himself, “Whoever claims to be noble must conduct himself nobly (Noblesse oblige).” But he is actually quoted as saying, “Isn’t it good to do something good, be it for a presidential bid or not?”
The Asan Sharing Foundation is reportedly aiming at helping to address the problem of polarization in income distribution and encouraging the entrepreneurship of young people. It is being established on the 10th memorial of the late Chung Ju-yung, who founded the Hyundai Business Group as a trailblazing entrepreneur. Since his death, it has split into different Hyundai groups.
In a capitalist society, it may be only natural for businesspeople to try to make as much money as possible and for corporations to aim at maximizing profits. But self-regulation is demanded of both entrepreneurs and corporations. As such, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and other world-renowned businessmen engage in humanitarian causes and a growing number of multinational business enterprises take up corporate social responsibility.
Korean businessmen and corporations should be encouraged to follow suit. In this regard, the Asan Sharing Foundation is called on to establish itself as a Korean model for corporate social responsibility, just as Chung Ju-yung set himself as a model for entrepreneurship in the nation.