Lawyer Kwang-jin Chung, who lost three daughters in ‘Sampoong Department Store tragedy’ and founded scholarship foundation, passes away

Posted Posted onMay 23, 2023 Comments0

Chung Kwang-jin, a lawyer who founded the Samyun Scholarship Foundation after losing three daughters in the 1995 Sampung Department Store collapse, passed away at Asan Medical Center in Seoul at around 8:52 p.m. on Sept. 19, the foundation said Tuesday. He was 85 years old.

The late lawyer Chung Kwang-jin. /KBS News Galmuri먹튀검증

The deceased graduated from Seoul National University College of Law, passed the first bar exam in 1963 and served as a judge before opening his own law practice in 1978. It was his eldest daughter, Jung Yoon-min (29 at the time of her death in 1995), who was visually impaired, that prompted him to quit his judicial career.

She opened her own practice to help her eldest daughter, who lost her sight in one eye at age 5 to a disease that caused blood vessels to form behind the retina of the eye, and lost her sight in both eyes at age 12. Despite her family’s efforts, she was unable to regain her sight, but in 1988 she went to study abroad at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a master’s degree and became a teacher at the Seoul School for the Blind, hoping to help others like her.

However, on June 29, 1995, Yoon Min was tragically killed in the Sampoong Department Store collapse, along with her two siblings, Yoo Jung, 28, and Yoon Kyung, 25. They were traveling by car to buy necessities for their home. His longing for his three daughters was captured in a memorial book, “My Love, My Life, My Jesus,” published in June of the following year.

The deceased memorialized his three daughters by establishing a scholarship foundation. He established the Samyoon Scholarship Foundation with 700 million won in compensation for his three daughters, plus his personal fortune, and donated it to his eldest daughter’s alma mater and first job, the Seoul School for the Blind. The name of the scholarship foundation, “Samyoon,” is named after the three daughters.

In the foundation’s statement of purpose, the deceased said, “I have seen an unusually high number of blind students experiencing financial difficulties. The Samyoon Scholarship Foundation wants to be a source of strength for them.” His wife, Lee Jung-hee, explained the purpose of the foundation, saying, “We want to replace Yoon Min-yi’s unfulfilled dream of becoming a light to the blind.”

On November 5, 1996, the Seoul School for the Blind unveiled a monument to the foundation on its campus, and then-President Kim Young-sam sent a letter to Mr. Chung stating, “The noble love you have shown to your three daughters will not only fulfill their unfulfilled dreams, but will forever remain as a `light of hope’ that illuminates the darkness for young students who cannot see.”


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