Supermodel-turned-TV personality Hyun Young
has become an official member of the Honor Society, the group of major donors to the Community Chest of Korea (CCK).
Founded in December 2007, the Honor Society grants membership to those who have donated or committed to donate W100 million or more to the CCK (US$1=W1,161).
The first entertainer among the society's 12 official members, Hyun Young
has been volunteering in disaster areas since she was named a CCK goodwill ambassador in March 2006. She donated W50 million each in 2007 and 2008 to help the poor elderly who live alone.
Other official members include SKC chairman Choi Shin-won and national youth football team coach Hong Myung-bo. The group has 26 unofficial members as well.
"A total of 38 people are qualified for membership, including businessmen, entertainers and athletes. But some choose to remain anonymous, making the number of official members 12", a CCK spokesperson said.
CCK encourages people to donate openly to set a good example, but some prefer to keep their philanthropy private for various reasons. Last year it emerged that actress Moon Geun-young
was the first unofficial member. Moon is also known to be the group's top individual donor, giving some W850 million, although CCK will not confirm this.
In only two years since its launch the Honor Society has collected a total of W2.58 billion in donations. Interest has been growing among Korean society leaders but its size still falls far short of the Tocqueville Society of the U.S., on which the group is modeled.
The Tocqueville Society was launched by the United Way of America with 20 members in 1984. It now has about 20,000 donors, including Bill Gates, who are said to give some W500 billion annually.