The Korea Student Aid Foundation (KOSAF) in Seoul, Korea, won two Gold Stevie® Awards in The 2013 International Business Awards: in the marketing awards categories with their National Scholarship PR Campaign; and for Best Twitter Feed.
We talked with Mr. Byong-Sun Kwak, Chairman of KOSAF, about what winning Stevie Awards has meant for his organization.
“It has been an honor for KOSAF to be recognized in The International Business Awards for the past three years,” Chairman Kwak told us. “We received it as a sign of encouragement and support to increase our efforts for the development of our future human resources here in Korea.”
Reforming the System
Kwak told us that the people of Korea were still in deep shock following the recent Sewol-ho ferry disaster. “It took the lives of many young high school students who had not yet blossomed,” he told us. “As the representative of an organization working to improve the future of young people—as well as a Korean—I felt tremendous regret. Learning from this accident, however, the government and public institutions are seeking ways to reform our social systems, and there are headlines about these reforms every day. KOSAF will also be participating aggressively in this movement, and we will be doing our part to build an even more impressive organization. The disaster has given us renewed incentive to earn the trust of our customers and to build a better future for the young people of Korea.”
Opening Doors for Korean Talent
We asked Kwak how The International Business Awards (IBAs) could be of help in broadening support for Korean students and their post-graduate careers in countries outside Korea.
“KOSAF aims to be a world-leading scholarship aid organization for the development of human resources,” Kwak told us. ‘We hope that by winning in the IBAs we will have an opportunity to share KOSAF’s vision and goals with businesses and organizations all over the world. We want to spread a similar system to other countries as being an exemplar of a scholarship aid organization. Our aim is to build momentum in constructing an international network for global human resources.”
According to Kwak: “We will explore every opportunity for talented Koreans to use their abilities, and to take an active part on the international stage, such as working for a major international corporation that may itself be an International Business Awards winner. We will open every possible door to achieve this, and would certainly like to hear from any foreign organizations interested in our Korean talent.”
Building for the Future
Kwak told us of his hopes for the future. “Not long ago, we held a writing contest for students who had received a scholarship or a student loan. It was really a meaningful event. I was deeply impressed at seeing how so many students had a true appreciation for the national scholarship and student loan system. Their essays showed us their determination to be capable men and women who would strive to repay this social aid.”
Added Kwak: “The contest led us to forget about the financial statistics (2014 budget of 3.7 trillion won—nearly $3.7 million—of scholarship support and 1.2 million scholarship students) and to feel each student’s passion to pursue his or her dream.”
Concluded Kwak: “I think what KOSAF should do is to provide the students with more opportunities to serve our society—not as the object but as the subject of our society. We plan to form a virtual circulation structure that will encourage beneficiaries of national scholarships to voluntarily return their benefits to society so that more students could be supported.”
“The fundamental purpose of a scholarship is sharing. The culture of voluntary participation and sharing should be encouraged if Korean society wants to become more advanced. Since our foundation’s job is not merely working as a public institution but building the future of our country, we will encourage our talented students to achieve their dreams, but with a full understanding of their debt to society.”
About Byong-Sun Kwak
Since Mr. Byong-Sun Kwak was appointed chairman of KOSAF in May of 2013, he has greatly expanded national scholarships to lower the burden of college tuition – and to free college life of worries about tuition fees – by creating the “conversion loan” program and others which substantially cut the existing borrower’s loan rate, along with the stabilized operation of the college student loan. He was awarded the Happiness Deoham Contribution Grand Prize in 2014 for his contribution to society, and he also faithfully fulfills his own social obligation by donating 50% of his private income mainly to scholarship funds.
Before joining KOSAF, Kwak was president of the Korea Education Development Institute (KEDI); a member of the Presidential Commission on Education Reform, Republic of Korea; a member of the Board of Education Sub-Committee of UNESCO Korea; a member of the Presidential Commission on Education and Human Resource Development; and he served as a President of Kyungin Women’s University. He has been awarded the National Medal of Merit from the Korean Government (1986), National Medal for Excellent Service from the Korean Government (2003), and the Pacific Circle Consortium’s Peter Brice Award. His major publications include Curriculum Theory and Textbook, Civil Society and Citizenship, and Search for an Educational Paradigm for the Future of Co-Existence and Cooperation with Focus on the East Asian Situation, among many others.
Chairman Kwak graduated from the college of education at Seoul National University, and received a Master’s Degree in education at the same university. He also attended the College of Education at Marquette University graduate school in the United States, majored in education, and received a Ph.D.
The Korea Student Aid Foundation (KOSAF) is a quasi-governmental agency under the Korean Department of Education. Its mission is to help anyone to be a capable human resource by operating the financial fund consigned by the government, by bonds issued on the capital markets, and the funds donated by enterprises or individuals. To achieve this mission, KOSAF implements projects such as a national scholarship for low-income students, a scholarship for academic excellence, a scholarship in conjunction with work programs, and a low-interest tuition loan project. Since its inception in May 2009, about 6 trillion Korean won (approximately of scholarships and over 20 trillion won of tuition loan has been supported, and up to 7.8% of the tuition loan interest prior to the organizations foundation has been reduced to 2.9% to ease the student’s burden. The foundation is also building boarding houses to lower students’ living costs, and operating a system which enables more than 400 celebrities to mentor the college students—and for those students in turn to help the studies of elementary, middle, and high school students. At present, about 30,000 college students who receive benefits from KOSAF are participating in the knowledge-mentoring program for younger students from low-income and multi-cultural families, as well as families that have defected from North Korea.