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SKorean president pledges to donate bulk of wealth

SOUTH Korea's president will donate about 33.1 billion won (US$26 million) - almost all of his personal fortune - to establish a new youth scholarship program, his office said today.

The scholarship foundation will be formally launched early next month, the Presidential Blue House said in a statement.

"My fortune, which I accumulated through hard work during my life, is very precious to me," Lee was quoted as saying in a separate Blue House statement. "I have long thought that it would be good if (my wealth) was spent for society in a valuable way."

Lee plans to donate three buildings he owns in Seoul to the foundation and the rents from those buildings will fund the students' scholarships, the first statement said. Lee, a former CEO of South Korean consortium Hyundai, will have 4.9 billion won left after the donation, the statement said.

Lee, who took office in February last year, pledged to donate most of his personal wealth to society during the election campaign. The first statement said he had also expressed such an intention in an autobiography published in 1995, when he was a member of the National Assembly.


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