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About the founder, Byung Chang Cho (조병창)

Mr. Cho was born in Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, (경상남도 합천군) South Korea.  After serving 8 years as a government officer, he immigrated to America in 1973 and tried his hand at a number of trades before finding his footing in the NYC wholesale world.  For over 40 years he has worked not only to provide for his family, but also to benefit the Korean American community and society at large.   

 

Mr. Cho’s life has been marked by a spirit of philanthropy and a desire to promote greater cultural relations and understanding between Korea and the US.  Through the years, Mr. Cho has worked with and helped numerous children and organizations. 

 

  • In 1983, Mr. Cho helped found Broadway Korean School (now known as Manhattan Korean School), one of the first Korean schools in Manhattan.  For over 30 years, the school has promoted a deeper understanding of the Korean language and culture to countless students, young and old.  

  • Working with local Gift of Life program, Mr. Cho helped over 10 young children from South Korea receive treatment and surgery for cardiac disease and disorder.  For his efforts,

     he was awarded a Presidential Citation in 1989 by South Korean president Roh Tae-woo.   

  • As the 19th President of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, he created a special committee to help new immigrants acclimate to their new lives.  Also he annually honored Korean War veterans to promote friendship between South Korea and America.  

  • In 2005, Mr. Cho played a crucial role in creating a sister city relationship with Bergen County, NJ and his hometown of Hapcheon.  He worked to cultivate this relationship and initiated the Student Exchange Program in 2008 to provide Korean students an opportunity to experience the American education system.  

  • Over the past 25 years, he has sponsored 12 students annually through the ChildFund Korea.  He also became president of a supporting organization in New York, helping to set up more than 300 sisterhood relationships for children in need of financial support. 

 

Two of Mr. Cho’s favorite words are "mother" (어머니) and “hometown” (고향); "my mother gave me life; my hometown raised me," he says.  Though he has called the US his home for over 40 years, spending his formative years in post-war Korea left an indelible mark and he yearns for the day that his motherland will reunify.  As such, for many years, Mr. Cho has worked toward reconciliation between North and South Korea. Over a series of trips to North Korea - visiting Pyongyang, Mount Keumkang, and the Kaesong Industrial Region - he created and worked with programs to send supplies such as milk and fertilizer, and to reunite families who were separated during the Korean War.  For his efforts to promote a peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula through cooperation and mutual understanding, he was awarded Presidential Citations in 2007 and 2008 from South Korean presidents Roh Moo-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak, respectively.

 

In 2013, Mr. Cho received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) for his dedicated service and contributions to the community.  

  

Why the foundation? 

 

Mr. Cho has always understood the importance of education.  As the youngest of seven children in a struggling family from a rural town, Mr. Cho experienced firsthand the difficulty of completing one’s education with limited financial resources.  In 1982, Mr. Cho established a scholarship foundation at his alma mater, Ssang Check Elementary School.  In 2007, he started the Cho Foundation with the hopes of helping students further their educational goals.  Guided by his core principles -honesty (정직), sincerity (성실), share (나눔)  and  

service (봉사), - it is his hope that scholarship recipients will one day 'pay it forward' to the next generation of outstanding young Korean Americans.

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