Han Chang-woo, a Korean-Japanese businessman who founded Maruhan Corp., Japan’s largest operator of pachinko parlors, said Saturday he will donate all his wealth, worth $1.7 billion, to help improve relations between the two countries.
“I’d like to give away all the money I’ve made before I die. I can assure that my personal assets, except for the company to be handed over to my son and some money for my wife, will be used for the inter-development of Korea and Japan,” Han told reporters in Busan.
The 80-year-old Korean immigrant was ranked Japan’s 17th-richest person by Forbes last year with net worth of 132 billion yen ($1.7 billion).
A self-made entrepreneur, Han stowed away on a ship to Japan in 1947 to shake off poverty in the aftermath of the Korean War. He launched Maruhan in 1957 after graduating from college there and expanded the business into food franchises, construction, leisure, advertising and banking and insurance. The gaming guru now generates 30 trillion won ($27 billion) in annual revenue.
Han is also known for his social contributions. When a tsunami and earthquake rocked Japan early this year, he offered 10 billion won to residents in hard-hit regions. His company has been helping build hospitals in developing countries like Cambodia and Myanmar, while hiring people with disabilities at home.
“I’m no longer interested in making money but in how to spend it,” Han said. “These days I’m thinking about social responsibility activities all the time.”
In addition to his personal donation, Han said he plans to boost his culture fund based in Japan to 140 billion won and an education fund to 10 billion won, which he initiated last year in his hometown of Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province.
Donga English version:
On a TV screen showing figure skater Kim Yuna in an international competition, an ad signboard with "Maruhan" is a perennial attention grabber. This is an ad by Japan`s largest maker of pachinko, or Japanese-style pinball. The company is owned by Han Chang-woo, 81, an ethnic Korean businessman living in Japan. With assets valued at 132 billion yen (169 billion U.S. dollars), Han is Japan`s 22nd richest person. Earning such great wealth in the maligned pachinko business, he is a major donor to culture and education. He donated 5 billion won (4.49 million dollars) to Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, to give scholarships to students from low-income families. Arriving in Japan in 1945 as a stowaway at age 15, all he had was an English-Japanese dictionary and less than a gallon of rice. He wanted to study to succeed in Japan but could not find a job after graduating from college. Finally, he started working at a pachinko parlor run by a relative. Han eventually turned into a giant in the pachinko industry under "Maruhanism," his management philosophy of cultivation of staff and honesty.
When Maruhan tried to hire new recruits with university diplomas in 1992, it had just four applicants. To overcome the situation, he instilled in his employees the notion that Maruhan is an entertainment company, not a gambling business. He proved that his company was doing business legally by ensuring that its daily revenues were automatically transferred to tax authorities. Through such efforts, he attracted graduates from Japan`s top universities join the company. "To get ahead of the Japanese people, you have to work twice as hard and honestly as they do,” he said. He recently announced that he will donate his entire fortune to the cause of Korea-Japan friendship.
Many ethnic Koreans in Japan did not get fair treatment from either Korea or Japan. Han plunged into the pachinko business because he could not find work as a Korean in Japan and lacked other options to make money. Korea was no comfortable place for ethnic Korean residents in Japan, either. His planned donation of his entire assets to both countries is welcome but the status of ethnic Koreans in Japan remains worrisome. It is hoped Han`s act of charity provides an opportunity for the two countries to pay more attention to the ethnic Korean community in Japan.
KBS World version:
Korean-Japanese businessman Han Chang-woo says he will donate a total of 150 billion won of his personal assets to South Korea and Japan.
The Korean immigrant said in an interview with KBS on Friday that he will donate 140 billion won to Japan and ten billion won to South Korea for a scholarship program.
Han is the chairman of Maruhan Corporation, Japan’s largest operator of pachinko parlors. Maruhan was named Japan’s 17th richest person by Forbes last year.
I giggle a little at the pachinko thing. But way to go, Mr.Han *applause*
added more info on the donation ^^