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Yonsei University Loses Gift of 12.3 Billion Won

Posted July. 06, 2005 00:37,   


A court has ruled that a will an entrepreneur had left behind saying he would donate all his fortunes amounting to 12.3 billion won to Yonsei University was invalid. The will has been embroiled in the courts because it has no stamp or personal signature on it.

If the ruling is confirmed, Yonsei University is not eligible to receive the money and it will go to his bereaved family.

Seoul Civil District Court No. 29 (Chief Prosecutor, Choi Byung-chul) ruled on July 5 that “the will is invalid and the right to the inheritance of 12.3 billion won belongs to his family.” The lawsuit had been filed by a brother of Kim Woon-cho, the social entrepreneur, against Woori Bank, which manages his fortunes with Yonsei University, arguing, “The will saying my brother would donate all his fortunes to Yonsei University is invalid as it has no stamp of his own or his personal signature.”

The court said, “A will has no valid power without the personal signature of the deceased as there is a high risk of manipulation.”

It also said, “The fact that there was not a personal signature despite Kim having heard from a bank employee that a will becomes valid with one’s own signature makes one wonder whether he was determined to donate all of his fortune to Yonsei University.”

This incidence started to unravel as the will was discovered in a cashbox of Kim’s transaction bank in November 2003 by his family. Kim wrote it himself but there was no signature of his own.

His bereaved family asked the bank to return the will, arguing, “A will without a signature is invalid.”

However Yonsei University has been arguing for the right to the will, counter-arguing, “It goes against justice not to respect the deceased’s intention to donate to society.”

Ji-Seong Jeon verso@donga.com