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South Korean businessman gives back in Shandong, his second home

Updated: 2012-12-04 22:42
By Li Yao (


South Korean businessman gives back in Shandong, his second home

Rhee Young-nam, head of a medical volunteer team, visits an elderly woman at a nursing home in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, in July 2010. Provided to China Daily

South Korean businessman Rhee Young-nam received an award for international humanitarian volunteerism from the Red Cross Society of China on Tuesday.

The 67-year-old was honored in Beijing as part of events to mark the 27th World Volunteer Day, which falls on Wednesday.

Since 2004, Rhee has served as chairman of a medical volunteer team in Qingdao, Shandong province, in cooperation with the China Red Cross. In that time, the number of volunteers in the team has risen from a handful to more than 250, including professionals from South Korea, the United States and Singapore.

"I have lived in Shandong province for 15 years. It is my second home. I am obliged to make my contribution as a resident and entrepreneur here," he said.

The team has organized 57 tours of poor rural areas in Qingdao to offer free health checkups, benefiting 21,900 people. They also gave out medicine and other goods worth a total of 570,000 yuan ($96,000).

The main fundraising platform has been through charity sales at South Korean businesses in Shandong, and the funds have paid for surgery for 67 children with congenital heart disease, as well as helped autistic children and childless seniors.

Rhee and his colleagues have visited areas prone to certain diseases to educate residents on the need for regular checkups and raise awareness about early diagnosis.

A mobile dental clinic has offered free services to 580 residents in 30 communities in Qingdao's Chengyang district, with an investment of 1.2 million yuan, through the cooperation between Rhee and the district China Red Cross branch.

In 2007, Rhee, who donates about 400,000 yuan a year to support his voluntary work, was made an honorary citizen of the district.

His company was quick to respond to disaster relief after the Wenchuan earthquake in May 2008, with 108,468 yuan donated by his employees.

In 2010, he was a recipient of the Qindao award, organized by the Qingdao city government in recognition of overseas residents' contribution to social-economic development.

He also shared the award for civil diplomacy in February 2011 by an organization in South Korea.

Since October 2008, Rhee has been studying Mandarin at Qingdao University.