The Korea Herald


Kang donates PyeongChang land; chaebol keep theirs

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 29, 2012 - 17:00

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Former TV celebrity Kang Ho-dong has decided to donate 2 billion won ($1.76 million.) in real estate in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, home of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, to charity, local media reported Wednesday.
Kang, once a popular show host and former Korean traditional wrestling champion, is currently taking a hiatus from showbiz. He quit his broadcasting activities last year when his purchase of the 5,300 square-meter tract of land near Alpensia Resort in 2009 and 2010 was denounced by his fans and news media as speculation and he was accused of tax evasion.

Though the tax authorities concluded that his failure to pay taxes was a mistake by his accountant, Kang took the blame and stepped down from his entertainment activities.

According to news reports, Kang has been discussing his plan with the Asan Foundation since November and has finished all the legal procedures. He also appointed a third person who will handle the matter in a low-key manner, the foundation said.

“Kang has volunteered for charity activities at the Asan Medical Center run by the foundation for a couple of years. He wants child patients to benefit from his donation,” a close aide to Kang told reporters.

The foundation seeks to create the “Kang Ho-dong Fund” for children in medical need.

“It must have been a difficult decision because PyeongChang is now sought-after as the host city of the Winter Olympics. He made a brave and thoughtful decision,” an AMC official said.

His donation pledge marks a stark contrast with the recent trend of business tycoons who have invested in real estate in the area.

According to, a website tracing the nation’s conglomerate owners, about 230,000 square meters of land in PyeongChang and the surrounding areas are owned by chaebol and wealthy individuals, including sports stars, major shareholders in large corporations and journalists. They have intensively purchased land in PyeongChang starting in 2005 and land prices there are estimated to have risen more than 10-fold since then, the website said.

Shin Young-ja, president of Lotte Shopping, and her family have owned 11,000 square meters of land in Yongsan-ri, near PyeongChang, since 2005. Hur Sae-hong, son of GS Caltex Chairman Hur Dong-soo and executive of the company, also has 72,000 square meters of real estate around the area, according to

KBS reported that 70 percent of the 683 owners of land in Yongsan-ri reside in Seoul and its outskirts.

Though transactions for real estate in PyeongChang and its adjacent areas are strictly regulated as agricultural land, almost none of the land possessed by the wealthy outside the area is used for farming, said Jeong Seon-seob, president of

“Speculation is something that we should not do. The so-called wealthier and powerful people should follow Kang as an example, and carry out ‘noblesse oblige,’” a netizen said on a bulletin at the web portal Daum.

By Bae Ji-sook (