KOSAC President, Cheon-gu Heo Donates 1 Billion Won to His Alma Mater.

With his 70-year-old belief in the power of virtue, Heo gives financial support to students in need. 

While he had made anonymous donations in the past, he now reveals himself for a bigger reason.

▲ After the donation ceremony, KOSAC President Cheon-gu Heo and KU President Jaeho Yeom pose in front of a piece of calligraphy. 

Cheon-gu Heo, President of KOSAC (Korea Soda Ash Corporation), donated 1 billion won to his alma mater, Korea University.

At the donation ceremony, President Heo (Commerce, ’59) talked about the purpose of his donation. “I want to help those with a good personality but who are in difficult circumstances and those who put aside their self-interest and understand the importance of social contribution.” He also expressed how excited he was to be visiting his alma mater after a long time. “I am very glad that I can feel the passion and energy of KU students. As a kid, I had to go through the aftermath of Korean Liberation and the Korean War. When I entered university, the April 19 Revolution broke out. All those hard times made me naturally be drawn to those in need, especially students.” He added that although his donation cannot be compared to what he received from the university and from fellow classmates, he wanted to repay what he owed to them. 

Using his donation, KU established a charitable fund named after him. From the second semester of this year, the fund will grant full tuition scholarships to five to six students every semester will. For transparency, the university will report details of the fund management and awardees. To select scholarship recipients, the university will abide by the donator’s philosophy of donation.

Speaking of his philosophy of donation, Heo learned the power of virtue from his grandfather who raised him. His father passed away when he was only three years old. It was his grandfather, a Confucian scholar, who took care of him and taught him a four-character Chinese idiom, ‘Yeo-Deok-Wi-Lin,’ which became the foundation of his philosophy of life. The Chinese idiom is about the power of virtue, literally meaning that if you get along virtuously with your neighbors then we will all become friends. Not only did his grandfather teach him with words, but he also lived up to his principle. In fact, his grandfather lent some of his land to poor neighbors at no cost. Positively influenced by the family tradition, young Heo always thought about sharing and giving. 

The donation ceremony was held on April 25 at Korea University’s Main Hall. During his speech at the ceremony, Heo explained why he decided to reveal himself. “Until recently, I have helped others anonymously. What made me disclose myself was my hope to encourage as many people as possible to participate in donation.” He continued, “My donation will not stop as long as I have something to share with others. I want to return what has made me successful. In this sense, I feel obligated to give my full support in nurturing future generations of our society and the nation. I truly hope that my donation will lead others into a virtuous cycle of donation.”

Born in Hoengseong-gun, Gangwon-do Province, Heo has anonymously made donations for local communities in the province, amounting to approximately 1.5 billion won. Among students in Chuncheon High School, his alma mater, he helped those in need by paying full tuitions for their first semester of college. After donating 1 billion won to the Community Chest of Korea last December, he and his wife, Min-jeong Kim, joined the club of large givers, Honor Society. It was his first time to reveal himself as a donator. 

In response to the donator’s speech, KU President Jaeho Yeom expressed his gratitude. “We will ensure that your donation is used to help well-conducted students to grow as people who can contribute to the development of our society. Including yours, support from alumni members are truly helpful to us.” As a token of thanks, President Yeom presented a calligraphy piece of ‘Yeo-Deok-Wi-Lin’ to President Heo. 

Graduating from Korea University as a Commerce major in 1965, Cheon-gu Heo is currently President of KOSAC (Korea Soda Ash Corporation), importer and supplier of American soda ash. He has been an entrepreneur for over 50 years, including several years at Sammi Group as a board member and several years as one of the founders of Goryeo Logistics and Asia Cold Storage.

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