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Korean grandmother donates life savings

Nonna Lee Gye-soon gives all to help Catholic university students

Nonna Lee Gye-soon, who donated all her money to the Catholic University of Daegu (Courtesy of Catholic University of Daegu) Nonna Lee Gye-soon, who donated all her money to the Catholic University of Daegu (Courtesy of Catholic University of Daegu)
  • John Choi, Soul
  • Korea
  • February 17, 2011
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The Catholic University of Daegu received a huge surprise recently when a 78-year-old grandmother paid an unexpected visit and donated all her life savings.

According to a February 15 university press release, Nonna Lee Gye-soon donated some 52 million won (US$46,000) on January 31.

“This money is my entire fortune and I want to donate it. Please use it as the university wishes for scholarships or equipment,” Nonna Lee reportedly said, handing over two bankbooks.

“I received no formal education and I regret it. I’d like to help young students in their studies,” she said.

She reportedly told Father Francis So Byung-ouk, president of the university, “I came to this school because Catholic universities produce sincere, honest and talented people. I would feel more comfortable donating my money to this university.”

Nonna Lee lives alone and made her living by washing dishes in Daegu for 30 years after her husband died.

With the money she saved, she started helping students from low income families in her neighborhood.

In 1995, she donated 100 million won to Caritas Daegu and in 2006 she offered scholarships worth a total of 50 million won.

Now retired, she receives a pension from the government and recently has applied for basic-living subsidies.

The Catholic University of Daegu is now discussing how best to put her donation to good use.

Related report
Catholics make higher education possible

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