POTTSTOWN, Pennsylvania — Kakao Talk is a popular messaging app with tens of millions of users — and said to be installed on 90% of Korean smartphones. In addition to chatting, Kakao Talk also provides services for shopping and gaming. With all of that happening, it is no surprise the app’s founder and chairman, Kim Beom-su, has made several of Forbes’ iconic wealth lists. Kim, however, wants to use his affluence to help make the world a better place — this year signing the “Giving Pledge,” promising to donate most of his fortune to charity.
The Giving Pledge
Kim’s life was not always so prosperous. Neither of his parents studied past elementary school, and he grew up sharing a one-bedroom home with his family of eight in Seoul, South Korea. His parents often moved from job to job to make ends meet. Kim was the first in his family to attend college, which he funded by offering private tutoring services. However, rather than being discouraged, Kim used his hardships as motivation to remain driven
Since founding Kakao Talk, Kim may have achieved enormous success, however, he has still kept a heart for philanthropy. The Giving Pledge is one example — an open invitation for billionaires to publicly pledge at least half their wealth to philanthropic efforts. Created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Giving Pledge commits itself to fight poverty, while advocating for female empowerment and providing disaster relief worldwide.
So far, those efforts have reached 27 countries including Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tanzania, Ukraine and even Kim’s home country of South Korea.
When he made his own Giving Pledge, Kim cited Bill Gates as his philanthropic role model and even discussed his idea of possibly creating a charitable organization.
Crossing the Digital Divide
He expressed a desire to give to social causes, including efforts to lessen the digital divide while attempting to foster a new wave of talent in artificial intelligence by creating both online and offline campuses for those interested in that field.
The digital divide is the gap between those who have access to modern information, communication, and technology, and those who do not. It affects communities globally — especially those experiencing extreme poverty. There have been calls to lessen the divide, intending to make societies more inclusive and prosperous — including by the United Nations, which has expressed the importance of curbing disparity for economically developing nations to grow.
Kim has already proven himself to be a successful businessman, and his rise from poverty is one some may say provides an inspiring story. With his various philanthropic donations, it is believed many undeveloped communities will have access to better technology, allowing them an opportunity to prosper.
– Carly Johnson