While most of our favorite Korean actors earn millions from their projects, many have thankfully remained humble and down-to-earth over the years. Some of them have even taken to giving back by donating huge sums of money to aid the less fortunate not just in South Korea, but globally as well. That said, to honor some of the most generous individuals in the SK acting industry we've rounded up their names below, plus the causes dearest to their hearts.
Fun fact: Korea's donating culture had grown particularly prominent that an exclusive Honor Society club for people who've donated at least 100 million won was established by the Community Chest of Korea—a non-profit, government sanctioned charity organization—back in 2007.
Singer and actress IU is well-known in South Korea for her steadfast generosity, so much so that she was hailed as one of Forbes Asia's Heroes of Philantrophy in 2019. Her lifetime donations have reportedly reached a whopping 1.5 billion won ever since she privately started giving back in 2011. Most recently, IU aided in Korea's COVID-19 operations by donating 260 million won for masks and medical supplies to low-income families.
2. Bae Suzy
Former girl group member turned actress Bae Suzy has a tradition of donating to the Life Share Association every year on her birthday. In an article by Soompi, the organization disclosed that her overall donations had already reached around 400 million won. The money is used to cover the treatment of patients "suffering from incurable diseases such as pediatric cancer and leukemia.”
3. Park Shin Hye
Park Shin Hye is the 36th inductee of the Korea Food for the Hungry International (KFHI) Philanthropy Club—a global organization that focuses on raising awareness on poverty, and feeding the less fortunate. The actress was given the honor after donating 100 million won to the project of which she's been an active ambassador for since 2011. She also established a children's education center dubbed the Shin Hye Center with branches in Ghana and the Philippines.
4. Park Hae Jin
Another actor known for being a "donating angel" is My Love From the Star's Park Hae Jin. A 2016 article by Soompi estimated his total donations at 1.7 billion won, directed at projects that benefit the impoverished, terminally ill children, and victims of disasters, particularly the tragic sinking of MV Sewol in 2014. Apart from this, Hae Jin just so happens to be an honorary firefighter at the Central 119 Rescue Headquarters in Gyeonggi Province after raising funds for the organization.
5. Jang Keun Suk
Jang Keun Suk of Love Rain fame has greatly helped his alma mater after reportedly donating 1.2 billion won to the school's scholarship fund at the time of his enrollment. After graduating, he also gave away all his earnings from being a commercial model (amounting to 100 million won) to Hanyang University as academic support. Keun Suk's helping hand isn't just limited to South Korea though. Not many may know this but he actually donated 100 million won to UNICEF in order to aid the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, which devastated the Philippines back in 2013.
6. Ha Ji Won
Secret Garden's Ha Ji Won has a soft spot for underprivileged children. Known for her philantrophy, the actress established The Smile Again Project in 2006, which aims to collect donations to fund the hospital bills of kids in need of medical procedures. She also donated 100 million won to the victims of the MV Sewol ferry disaster in 2014 after finding out that most of the survivors were teenagers.
7. Kim Soo Hyun
A beloved hallyu star and the top paid actor of 2020, Kim Soo Hyun knows exactly how to show his gratitude. The actor's made several donations throughout his illustrious career, including 300 million won to fund the psychological treatment of the students of Danwon High School and to build a memorial for the victims of the Sewol Ferry tragedy. He also pledged 203 million won at a Gucci charity event in China and, most recently, gave 100 million won to aid South Korea's COVID-19 efforts.
8. Hyun Young
Actress and entertainer Hyun Young was the first female celebrity to join Korea's Honor Society Club in 2009. Prior to her induction, she had donated 50 million won to the Community Chest of Korea in 2008. Among her numerous charities, she's notably donated 100 million won worth of medicine to Sports Doctors, an organization that provides medical services to those who need it.
9. Shin Min Ah
Shin Min Ah made headlines in 2016 when it was revealed that she'd been secretly donating huge sums of money to charities for over 10 years. At the time, her total donations had reached an impressive 1.4 billion won. Soompi reports that the money mostly went to causes that involved "education and health care support for disadvantaged children, heating costs for elderly people living alone, and support for women and children among North Korean refugees."
10. Moon Geun Young
Much like Min Ah, former child actress Moon Geun Young also opted to keep her donations anonymous. Her acts of good will were revealed in 2016 as numerous reports summed up her total donations to 930 million won in the span of 13 years. In particular, she'd been paying off the surgery bills of children with cancer and other patients with rare illnesses.