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Former Chairman of Dong-A Ilbo Dies

Posted February. 26, 2008 06:28,   


The former chairman of the Dong-A Ilbo, Kim Byung-kwan, died Monday at 9:40 a.m. at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. He also served as president, chairman and honorary chairman of the Dong-A Ilbo and CEO of the Coryeo Joongang Foundation. He died at the age of 74.

Born in Seoul on July 24, 1934, he graduated from Choong Ang High School and Korea University, majoring in economics. He joined the Dong-A Ilbo in 1968 and worked at various posts. He served as vice president from 1985 until he was promoted to chairman in 1993. For 33 years of his career at the daily newspaper, he devoted his life advancing the freedom of speech in Korea.

He has always pioneered to make the daily obtain and preserve the freedom of press against the military dictatorship in the past. Kim was sworn in as publisher in 1987 and his fight against appeasement and threats by the authoritative government made it possible for the newspaper to disclose the so-called Park Jong-cheol incident, in which Park, a Seoul National University student, was killed while being tortured by public security authorities. The news report by the Dong-A Ilbo triggered a nationwide democratization movement, serving as a stimulant for Korea’s democratic advancement.

Kim had the first exclusive interview with Chinese Premier Li Peng in the Korean media history in 1995. With an invitation from the Korea Asia-Peace Committee In Pyongyang, he made the first visit to the North as a newspaper manager in the South in 1998, and suggested the North and South expand their diplomatic exchanges to relieve the tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Elected chairman of the Korean Association of Newspapers in 1990, he worked for the organization for four years. During the period, he held a number of events to promote the importance of free speech and made contributions to news media to criticize those who violate the freedom of press. He made great efforts to facilitate the exchanges of the international media community, serving as executive at the International Press Institute (IPI) in 1990 and the Press Foundation of Asia in 1996.

Kim had interest in Korea’s traditional music. Since taking office as president at the Dong-A Ilbo in 1989, he began measures to promote Korea’s epic vocal art and instrumental music. In an effort to encourage ethnic Koreans living abroad, he arranged a road show for a Korean classical opera in nine regions in the Soviet Union in 1990.

The late chairman had served as chief director at various schools, including Choong Ang Middle & High School, Koryo Middle & High School, and the Coryeo Joongang Foundation. He had completed numerous constructions of school facilities at Korea University, such as the Central Plaza, the Centennial Memorial Hall, the Hwajeong Gymnasium to commemorate the school’s centennial anniversary in 2005. He had contributed to enhance the school’s status through various channels, such as collecting donation, expanding exchanges with world-renowned universities and holding international academic conferences.

He also contributed to advancing Korea’s media, education and culture by establishing foundations and institutions including the Dong-A Science in 1986, the Ilmin Cultural Foundation in 1994, DongA.com in 1996, the Newspaper Museum in 2000, the Hwajeong Peace Foundation • the Institute 21 for Peace Studies in 2000 and the Korea Digital University in 2001.

He was awarded the highest order of civil merit, the Mugunghwa Medal, in 1991 for his contribution. He also received an honorary doctorate in law from Monash University in Australia in 1997 and Waseda University in Japan in 2001.

His funeral chapel is at Korea University Anam Hospital. The funeral will be held at Korea University’s Hwajeong Gymnasium at 9 a.m. on Feb. 28. Kim will be put to rest in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province.

Kim is survived by two sons and one daughter from his marriage with his late wife, Ahn Gyeong-hee. His elder son, Jae-ho, is vice-president of the Dong-A Ilbo. His second son, Jae-yeol, is an executive of Cheil Industries. His daughter, Hee-ryeong, is a director at Ilmin Museum of Art.

For more information, call 02) 921-3099 (Korea University Anam Hospital) or 02) 2020-1710 (The Dong-A Ilbo).