70th Anniversary Special - Jungseok Cho Choong-hoon, an entrepreneur who devoted himself to the development of Inha University

기사승인 2024.05.30  23:47:37


 Your Friends say, "I'm Jungseok (library) now~ Come to Jungseok." We call the school's central library "Jungseok." Have you ever wondered why it's Jungseok? Jungseok is the pen name of Hanjin Group's founder Cho Choong-hoon. Jungseok is a Chinese character and it means "silence" and "stone." His father named him Jungseok because he liked machines and he wanted people to make movements and stops in harmony. Let's find out who Jungseok Cho is and what efforts he made to improve our school, which celebrates its 70th anniversary.


(Jungseok Cho Choong-hoon)


Inha University and Cho Choong-hoon's first meeting

 Inha Institute of Technology, the birthplace of Inha University and a representative university in Incheon, might have disappeared into history without spreading its wings if not for Cho Choong-hoon. Inha Institute of Technology was established in 1954 as a project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of migration to Hawaii under President Syngman Rhee. It was a prestigious private school created by government subsidies and private donations for $150,000 raised by Hawaiian compatriots. Since the name "Inha" was also named after the first letters of Incheon and Hawaii, Inha Institute of Technology was a school born from the sweat and tears of Incheon citizens and Korean-Americans in Hawaii. However, in the midst of political upheaval from the April 19 Revolution in 1960 to the May 16 military coup in 1961, Inha Institute of Technology became an ownerless school. When President Syngman Rhee stepped down and government support was cut off, the school suffered severe financial difficulties. Although it is a foundation, all of the directors were from the powerful Liberal Party and could not afford to fund it. Ten temporary chairmen were appointed for seven years, but none were able to save the school. The school, which was built by the first generation of Hawaiian immigrants who received 70 cents a day's wage on a sugar cane plantation, was turned into a nuisance. Inha Institute of Technology seemed to disappear into history like that without properly stretching. President Park Chung-hee, who was making every effort to develop a five-year economic development plan at the time, absolutely needed a school to cultivate technical manpower such as Inha Institute of Technology. No company or philanthropist offered to take responsibility for the university just before closing, although they searched for sponsors. President Park recalled Cho Choong-hoon. He was well aware of Cho's success in the Vietnam War when he obtained the right to provide services from the U.S. military with just one credit card. He was also aware that Cho cared about his employees and had a passion for investment in education. President Park pinned his hopes on Cho. At the time, Hanjin Corporation, the parent company of Hanjin Group, had a lot of business, so it could not afford to pay attention to other things. Moreover, it was not possible to acquire a university that was not directly related to the business. Cho Choong-hoon couldn't resist, despite the fact that he was realistic. This is because he was well aware of the sweat and tears of Hawaiian residents. Due to poverty, he also gave up his studies and moved to Japan to watch his compatriots live a difficult life at the shipyard. Cho Choong-hoon sympathized with the hearts of Korean residents in Hawaii who tried to raise their country's equally through the sorrow of being without a country in abroad. Additionally, Cho Choong-hoon opened Hanjin Corporation's first office in Incheon, which was like the headquarters of the group. It was such a reckless investment that it was impossible to estimate how much it would cost to acquire Inha Institute of Technology, but he did not calculate it. Cho Choong-hoon thought that one year ahead should farm, ten years ahead, plant trees, and 100 years ahead, invest in education.


MIT in Asia

(In 1981, Sunset Opening Ceremony in Inha University. Chairman Cho Choong-hoon in front of left)


 Cho should have done everything. Having acquired Inha Institute of Technology in September 1968, Cho has set a goal of developing the company into the MIT of Asia. After taking over, Cho toured The campus first. The situation was worse than expected. The 70,000-pyeong campus, more than half of the 125,000-pyeong site, was shabby and cluttered with nearly 50 unauthorized shacks and tile-roofed houses. Cho Choong-hoon compensated the residents for the relocation expenses and renovated the campus to create an atmosphere of immunity. Facilities have also been extensively expanded.  However, the support was no longer possible at the company level. Cho Choong-hoon believed that Inha Institute of Technology should have a university-like appearance even if he had his own private life in the company. In the first year of his acquisition, he offered 200 million won to the foundation at the time and another 200 million won. It was a huge amount of support at the time. This fund was used to build the main building, which has become the symbol of Inha University today. The following year, he offered 200 million won again to build an experimental and training room and the second main building. In 1971, three years after Cho Choong-hoon took over the foundation, Inha Institute of Technology was promoted to Inha University. Cho Choong-hoon raised 10 billion won in funds for professors' research and overseas exchanges and invested 4.5 billion won to expand experimental and practical equipment in engineering schools. A medical school was established, and a local long-cherished project, a university hospital, was also completed by investing 200 billion won. Inha University Hospital meant that it would return corporate profits to society. Inha University, where Cho Choong-hoon devoted his passion to "Asia's MIT," has grown at a remarkable pace. Following the establishment of the Graduate School of Trade and Logistics in 1987, Inha University has also opened the Asia-Pacific School of Logistics for the first time in Korea. Cho has donated 50 billion won (46.8 million U.S. dollars) to the academy foundation for transportation and logistics research and land management projects. The fund is currently being used for the Ilwoo Foundation, which was funded by Jung Seok-Inha Academy and Hanjin Group.


Cho Choong-hoon's legacy in Inha University

(The 10th anniversary of Inha Academy's inauguration in 1981)


 Cho visited the school whenever he had time until the late 1990s, when he entered the twilight of his career. He said “When I visited the school, I would not just look around but look around and ask if there were any facilities that were lacking.” In Inha University, there is a place where tall trees are densely packed. It is called Heidegger's Forest, which Cho Choong-hoon planted each seedling himself and grew with his affection. Cho Choong-hoon devoted his heart to students, hoping that they would build knowledge and wisdom through contemplation and reading. "Jungseok Academic Information Center" is a masterpiece of Cho's passion for reading books. In 2001, when Cho was going through his twilight years by stepping down from his management line, he wanted to do his last meaningful business in his second hometown, Incheon. He wanted to build a wonderful library that would serve as a treasure trove of information and knowledge. He said he would build one of the best digital libraries in Korea, and worked hard from the beginning of the construction. He entrusted the design to GWA, a famous American architecture firm, and even laid the foundation and laid a brick, displaying his passion for achieving the last great achievement of his life. However, He closed his eyes without seeing the completion of the library. The plan to build the best digital library in Korea has become a legacy. The eldest son, Chairman Cho Yang-ho, completed the library after his father's wishes. With a total floor area of 7,500 pyeong and 3,500 reading seats, the Jungseok Academic Information Center is the largest digital library in Korea. It has 1 million books and has various multimedia contents. Currently, more than 4,000 small and medium-sized enterprises and industry-academia cooperation groups in the Incheon area are launched to freely use data necessary for the project, including specialized patents, and to support information utilization education.


Nothing surpasses nurturing people as a lifelong goal

(You can see this picture at the Jungseok Memorial Library)


 For Cho Choong-hoon, the educational project was a project that a company that wanted to achieve a business state should do, and even if it did not make a profit, it should be invested for the future of the country. That's why I was able to pour out my personal property without expecting anything. He taught his children and executives that even a won bill should be precious, but made infinite investments when it comes to education. While investing heavily in education, it thoroughly guaranteed the independence of the content of education and the operation of the school to the extent that it was close to mysophobia. While not a few companies turned their backs on the private school foundation during the political upheaval and the foreign exchange crisis, Hanjin Group has continued to invest up to 30 billion won every year since 1968. Unlike many private school operators who threw away large amounts of funds and neglected management, Cho frequently visited Inha University's campus and asked students to "look around the world and expand their knowledge." Cho Choong-hoon expressed his philosophy on the land training project in a newspaper in 1991. "Businessmen are evaluated by 'how valuable they spent their money' rather than 'how they made money'. Corporate profits must be returned to society. Cultivating talent is the most rewarding thing for me. Education is a hundred-year period, and land training projects are like an infinite orbit. I always tried to cultivate talent with that 'company is human' in mind. I hope my land training project will become a small help to cultivate the same spirit that will further develop our country. I just hope that those studying at Jungseok Academy and Inha Academy will use my sincerity as an opportunity to contribute to the development of the company and the well-being of the country." Cho Choong-hoon thought that the purpose of running a private school should only be to cultivate talented people, not to be sustained immediately because it is only with the results in mind. I thought it was important to make steady investments looking far ahead to settle down as a permanent business. These words are engraved on one wall of the lobby on the first floor of the Jungseok Academic Information Center. " Nothing surpasses nurturing people as a lifelong goal." This is what Cho Choong-hoon often said to people around him in the second half of his life. The phrase in "Gwan-ja" means, "The most meaningful thing to do in a lifetime is to cultivate talented people." Cho Choong-hoon knew better than anyone else that the country lives only when companies live. It was people and talent that came before such companies. He was realizing that talent was the main body of building and raising companies. Cho gave a lecture to a new employee of Korean Air at the Sin-gal Training Institute in early 1984. "Since I founded Hanjin in 1945, I firmly believe that reading has served as the foundation for the success of creating something from nothing to today's Hanjin Group. Although I have not been able to study through the general curriculum, I am proud that I have read as much as anyone else." I have steadily acquired and continue to acquire living knowledge in accordance with the changing times, not knowledge for knowledge but knowledge that gives strength to me. It is not enough for students in this modern age of the information flood to specialize in their majors alone. Even in non-major fields, you should absorb at least the concepts, principles, and common sense. Engineering should also know literature and philosophy, as well as access to religion, art, and lifestyle laws. No matter what topics you talk to, you should have abundant common sense to prevent you from running out of money. Graduation does not mean that you take your books away. Real study begins now. We must keep pace with the changes of the times with small but steady efforts. In order not to be criticized as poor chairman or ignorant president, I still read books at home for an hour to go to work. It is not to the employee as a president, but to ask the junior as a senior in society to emphasize reading to you."


(Cho Choong-hoon, chairman of the board of directors, planting a commemorative tree at Inha University campus after the inauguration ceremony in 1979. Chairman Cho Choong-hoon is fourth from the front)


 Chairman Cho Choong-hoon's dream of becoming an MIT student in Asia is still in progress. Inha University, which faced the crisis of closing schools in the past, ranked 15th overall in the JoongAng Ilbo's university evaluation in 2023, 8th in the machinery/aeronautical and aerospace engineering category in the 2023 QS World University evaluation, 15th in the engineering/technology category, and 11th in the chemical (natural) category in Korea. In the case of technical examinations, it is also quite strong, consistently producing successful applicants, and Inha University ranked eighth in the country with 14 successful applicants for each university in the six-year period between 2013 and 2018. Inha University Business School obtained AACSB certification in 2014, and as of 2019, there are only 18 universities in Korea that have obtained the certification, including Inha University. There are also Law School and Medical College in Inha University. Inha University's growth, which has achieved such significant results, was possible thanks to the efforts of Chairman Cho Choong-hoon. Through this article, it would be nice to look back on Chairman Cho Choong-hoon, who has made a lot of effort for our school.


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