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Price per Unit (piece): KRW 25,000
USD 18.21
Author: Jeong In-yeong
Publisher: Seoul Selection
Pub. Date: Jan 2018
Pages: 372
Dimensions (in inches): 5.9 x 8.3 x 0.9
ISBN: 9781624121081
Language: English
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Shin Yong-ho,

entrepreneur and creator of the world’s first education insurance



Shin Yong-ho: a great entrepreneur who used his success in business as a springboard for aiding the development of his country

and the future of his people


• The turbulent life and times of a towering figure in South Korea’s insurance industry

• The narrative of Shin’s entire life, including his struggle with illness as a child, his dream of becoming a “capitalist for the Korean people” as a young man, and his establishment of one of Korea’s finest corporations in his prime

• Shin’s endless creativity and ambition show us the wisdom and courage we need in our lives


About the book

This book tells the life story of Shin Yong-ho, who founded and built Kyobo Life Insurance, Kyobo Book Centre, and the Daesan Foundation. Shin contracted a terrible illness in his childhood, and by the time he had recovered, it was too late to go to school. Despite missing his chance to receive a formal education, he taught himself through a thousand-day reading project and through hands-on learning. After heading to Seoul by himself at the age of twenty, he moved to China and built a company from scratch. Meanwhile, a meeting with the patriotic poet Yi Yuk-sa inspired him to support the independence movement and pursue his ambition of becoming a capitalist for the Korean people. At the end of World War II, Shin returned to Korea penniless, but he kept his spirits strong and with a great deal of effort invented the concept of education insurance to satisfy Koreans’ thirst for learning. His decision to establish Kyobo Book Centre under the slogan “People make books, and books make people” in the middle of Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul illustrates his passion for promoting national education and the way he put that into practice. Shin was unstinting in his support of public interest projects, and he established the Daesan Foundation to contribute to the development and globalization of Korean literature, along with the Daesan Agricultural Foundation (originally the Daesan Foundation for Rural Culture and Society) and the Kyobo Foundation for Education. It was Shin, with his profound knowledge of literature, who suggested putting up a billboard at Gwanghwamun (this became known as the Gwanghwamun Geulpan) to carry messages of comfort and hope for the busy pedestrians crossing that intersection. All this sprang from the insight that Shin gained by carefully examining each situation from all possible angles.

Shin was a great entrepreneur who did not content himself with business success and never stopped striving for the development of his country and the future of his people. He was given the John S. Bickley Founder’s Award, which is regarded as the Nobel Prize in the field of insurance; he was named the Insurance Mentor; and he became the first businessperson to be awarded the Geumgwan (Golden Crown) Order of Cultural Merit. The endless creativity and ambition evident in Shin’s life teach us the wisdom and courage that we need in our own.


The can-do spirit that blazed a trail in the wilderness

Shin managed to survive the illness he suffered during his childhood on the slopes of Mt Wolchulsan, but he missed his chance to obtain a formal education, never attending elementary or middle school. Even so, his thousand-day reading project and hands-on learning served as an effective way to study and develop his talents. His self-study at this time gave him an unbreakable will. After training his intellect and realizing his dreams, Shin struck out for Seoul at the tender age of twenty and then continued to the Chinese city of Dalian (then Dairen) by himself. This was his first step toward becoming a businessman dedicated to the good of his nation and people. In China, he achieved financial success by developing a new sales system. After meeting the patriotic poet Yi Yuk-sa, Shin supported the independence movement and set a new goal of helping Koreans by becoming a capitalist for the people. His meeting with Yi proved to be a turning point in Shin’s life, and he made up his mind to become a successful businessperson in China even as he cherished more lofty ambitions. Within a few years, Shin had established a grain company called Bukilgongsa in Beijing and put his company on the right track through his unique blend of hard work and creative thinking. Shin’s belief that he should have enough willpower to punch a hole in an oak tree hinted at the strength of his can-do spirit, which blazed a trail in the wilderness.


Examining each situation from all possible angles

The end of World War II threw China into turmoil, forcing Shin to return to Korea without a cent to his name. After that, he set up and ran companies in various fields, including publishing and silk weaving, but all of them went under. Despite this series of frustrations and failures, Shin always got back on his feet, like a coil that springs up each time it’s pushed down. At last, he realized that the only asset available to Koreans in the ashes of war was education. Instead of sinking into despair, Shin treated this crisis as an opportunity. Driven by his passion for education and drawing upon his past experience, he became the first person to combine education and insurance in 1958. He established Daehan Education Insurance (called Kyobo Life Insurance today) and began selling education insurance policies, which enabled students from poor families to stay in school and continue their education. Thanks to education insurance, countless students had the opportunity to learn and grew up to be the drivers of economic growth. This helped Shin achieve his goal of becoming a capitalist for the people, which was inspired by his meeting with Yi Yuk-sa.


People make books, and books make people

Shin’s philosophy about business and his view of life remain an ideal that we should strive for today. By opening Kyobo Book Centre in the middle of Gwanghwamun, Shin both took a step toward promoting education for Koreans and expressed his commitment to expanding the reading population and creating a cultural space for young people. Under its slogan “People make books, and books make people,” Kyobo Book Centre became a place where people could both relax and develop their intellect. The foundations that Shin established (the Daesan Foundation, for cultural advancement and the globalization of Korean literature; the Daesan Agriculture Foundation, which promotes the welfare of humanity through developing agriculture and rural areas; and the Kyobo Foundation for Education, which runs programs to support the environment and education) exemplified his business philosophy that a corporation’s ultimate goal is not making a profit but rather being socially responsible. It was Shin, the literary connoisseur, who suggested putting up a billboard at Gwanghwamun (the Gwanghwamun Geulpan) to carry messages of comfort and hope to the busy pedestrians crossing the intersection below. Shin remained active until his death at the age of 86 in 2003, demonstrating his passion for education and his commitment to cultural projects.

Blazing a Trail When the Road Ends is an exciting account of Shin’s life of endless creativity and ambition—his unusual childhood, his participation in the independence movement in his youth, his refusal to be discouraged by failure in his middle age, and his success turning Kyobo Life Insurance into one of the leading firms in the industry. The business philosophy and life values imparted by Shin will have a powerful impact on readers, teaching them the wisdom and courage they need in their lives.


About the author

Jeong In-yeong was born in 1933 in Okcheon, Chungcheongbuk-do, Korea, and graduated from Sungkyunkwan University with a bachelor’s degree in Korean language and literature. He made his debut as a novelist when his books Horizon without Exit and Sound Image won the Hyundae Munhak (Contemporary Literature) Award. His major works include the short stories “Limitation of Adam,” “Strange Land,” “Soiled Wings,” “Yellow Circle Belt,” “Prisoner’s Season,” “Specter of Naught,” and “Yukmun,” and the novel Grandchild.





A life in pictures: Daesan Shin Yong-ho and the path he walked


| Chapter 1 | Mt. Wolchulsan Rises in the Heart of Gwanghwamun

Cutting a twenty-two-floor building down to seventeen

The boy saved by the energy of Mt. Wolchulsan

Not allowed to attend elementary school

Gaining knowledge through self-study

Books make people

Practical knowledge makes people


| Chapter 2 | Dreaming Big Dreams

Success means staying one step ahead

A grand plan to go to China

Looking for niche markets

Tending a garden of one’s own is better than working the field for someone else

Meeting Yi Yuk-sa

An unfamiliar path


| Chapter 3 | The Young Lion Roars in China

Japan’s plunder of China

Hands-on learning in China

Meeting Korean businesspeople

A guerilla in the grain business

Creativity and diligence lead to opportunities

Bukilgongsa ready for the next step

The sad loss of a mentor, and Japan’s defeat

Back home and broke, with nothing to show but experience


| Chapter 4 | Continued Failures and Frustrations

A crisis is not a disaster but an opportunity

Getting into publishing to rebuild the nation

Surviving under the North Korean flag

Back to square one


| Chapter 5 | National Education and Domestic Capital

The world’s first education-based insurance

A business license at last

Launching as “educational insurance,” not “life insurance”

Finding new markets in the early days

Reaching the top of the industry through trust

Look far and wide


| Chapter 6 | Training People Brings Hope

Kyobo Book Centre: the dream of national education

From prime real estate to book heaven


| Chapter 7 | Company Buildings Filled with Hopes and Dreams

Company buildings create the corporate image

Kyobo Tower: where philosophy meets art

Fundamental mind training at Kyeseongwon


| Chapter 8 | A Passion for Public Good Projects

Modernizing the farming village, the foundation of life

Systematic support for literature, the core of culture

Toward a sustainable future

Honors for a pioneer of the insurance industry


| Chapter 9 | The Path of Endless Challenges

A decade after being diagnosed with cancer

80th birthday feast with all Shin’s friends and acquaintances

Always and everywhere, there’s a way


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