The Korea Herald


Baemin founder pledges to donate over half of his wealth

South Korean CEO of food delivery giant joins likes of Bill Gates in philanthropic donations

By Yim Hyun-su

Published : Feb. 18, 2021 - 15:12

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A screenshot from the Giving Pledge’s website shows Woowa Brothers founder Kim Bong-jin’s statement. (Woowa Brothers) A screenshot from the Giving Pledge’s website shows Woowa Brothers founder Kim Bong-jin’s statement. (Woowa Brothers)
Kim Bong-jin, the founder and CEO of Woowa Brothers -- the company behind South Korea’s top food delivery app, Baemin -- has pledged to donate more than half of his assets through the Giving Pledge -- a philanthropic campaign launched by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

“My wife Sul Bo-mi and I hereby pledge that we will return more than half of our wealth to society during our lifetime. Our lovely children, Hanna and Jua have agreed with our decision,” Kim said Thursday in a statement issued under his and his wife’s names, describing the donation as a “great inheritance” for their children.

Kim is estimated to have accumulated over 1 trillion won ($903.82 million). Since a major deal was reached for Germany-based Delivery Hero to acquire an 88 percent stake in Woowa Brothers for $4 billion in December 2019, Kim’s shares in Delivery Hero have nearly tripled in value as the food delivery industry enjoyed unprecedented growth amid the coronavirus pandemic.

His donation could amount to more than 500 billion won.

The Giving Pledge describes itself as an “open invitation for billionaires” to “publicly commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.”

The pledge -- which is a moral commitment, not a legally binding one -- has been taken by the likes of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Kim is the first Korean on the list.

The Woowa Brothers CEO, who studied interior design in university, also touched upon his tough upbringing in the statement.

“My humble beginning started on a small island in South Korea. During high school I had to wait until guests leave our family’s diner because there wasn’t a proper bedroom for me. I could barely afford the tuition to make my way through an art college,” Kim said.

He also promised to look at ways to tackle the issue of educational inequality, support the arts and culture, and establish an organization that can help philanthropic institutions in carrying out their work, as well as to address “perceptive and institutional obstacles that hinder the culture of giving.”

Earlier this month, Kim Beom-su, the founder of the company behind the country’s most popular messaging app, KakaoTalk, made headlines with his pledge to donate more than half of his assets throughout his life to resolve social issues.

Kim’s assets are estimated to be worth more than 10 trillion won, with his 12.5 million shares of Kakao alone valued at around 5.7 trillion won.

By Yim Hyun-su (