Go to contents

“Spending Money is Art”

Posted November. 01, 2006 03:01,   


“Would you like to have a cup of tea, Mr. President?”

“I would rather have water. Thanks.”

Before an interview when a waiter offered him tea, “Mr. President” gently refused it and said that he was fine with water.

The person who does not drink tea because it’s expensive, whereas everyone drinks coffee that costs more than a meal, is Han Chang-woo (75, picture), the chairman of Maruhan, the largest pachinko company in Japan. He ranked 24th in Japan in the list of the world’s billionaires, selected by Forbes last year. Maruhan’s revenue last year was 1,600 billion yen (roughly 12,800 billion won).

Han had an interview with Dong-A Ilbo at a restaurant in Hotel Paradise, Joong-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan, on October 30. He came to Korea to attend the Fifth World Korean Business Convention.

Annual Revenue of 12 Trillion Won, Donated 24 Billion Won Last Year-

Han goes abroad for business trips without a secretary because he feels he doesn’t need to have company. Also, he often uses a bus when he goes to a hotel from the airport because the bus is the fastest way to get there.

Han purchased a Rolls-Royce last year, which costs more than 70 million won, surprising the people around him. However, he does not use this car for himself, but his guests.

He is used to being frugal. However, he is very generous when he donates.

Han made a contribution of three billion yen (about 24 billion won) to social organizations. That money is more than one percent of the company’s net profit (about 264 billion yen) last year.

“It is a technique to earn money, but it is art that matters when you spend money,” said Han. “As if good art lasts forever, the value of money will be everlasting when it is used in a good place.”

Smuggled Aboard to Japan at the Age of 14-

Han was born in Sacheon, Gyeongnam. He went aboard on a smuggler ship to Japan at the age of 14 with only two measures of rice and a Japanese-Korean dictionary.

He graduated from Hosei University with a degree in economics by earning tuition fees himself, but he couldn’t find any work until he got a job at a pachinko company run by his brother-in-law.

After he started a bowling business in 1967, he over-expanded his business and subsequently fell into a debt of six billion yen in five years.

Han thought at that time that there would be no way out other than killing himself. However, he set up a pachinko business as a way to recover.

When Han was asked about the secret to becoming rich, he answered, “I have worked on everything twice as much as other people do. But you also need luck to make money. It is not always that you can get money when you work hard.”

And he added, “In hindsight, the luck came to me was as much as I gave. It is all that if you can spend money well, then you can make money.”