The Korea Herald ran an editorial on the news that a man who won the biggest-ever jackpot in Korean casino history on Saturday, May 15, 2010, decided to donate the entire prize money to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Below is the full text of the editorial published on May 18, 2010.
The Korea Herald: [Editorial] Gambler’s donation
KAIST, Korea’s leading research university, often makes news with donations from a variety of benefactors who wish to help develop science and technology in Korea with money they earned through their careers. The list of donors, which includes farmers, securities dealers, medical doctors, foreign businesspeople and popular entertainers, now has one unusual entry, a gambler.
Ahn Seung-pil, 60, may not be exactly a “gambler” – at least not a professional one. He has visited Kangwon Land, a casino located in the mountain region of Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, only a few times since it opened in 2000 as the only place Korean nationals could gamble. Ahn, who runs a small textile business in Seoul, hit the jackpot of 766 million won (about $665,000), the largest amount ever at Kangwon Land or from any slot machine at a Korean casino.
He said he was motivated to donate the money to KAIST in Daejeon City when he watched a television program after returning home, in which a professor emphasized the importance of advancing science and technology in the country. He had incurred heavy debts during the 1997 economic crisis and has yet to clear them all, but he thought of using the prize money for a good cause. The TV program guided him to KAIST, said Ahn, who has “not had a high level of education.”
Korea is known worldwide for its people’s strong zeal for university education. Parents do whatever they can to send their children to good universities but are so exhausted before the entrance that they barely pay the tuition once they get there. Universities have to rely mainly on tuition and meager subsidies from foundations or the state treasury. Private donations are rare, compared to European or American universities.
Major universities complain that members of the alumni societies are rather indifferent to calls for donation. The majority of donors who give significant amounts are people who weren’t lucky enough to go to university, such as Ahn Seung-pil.
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