Daehan Kyoyuk Insurance Company, renamed Kyobo Life Insurance today, stands at the heart of Korea’s capital city, Seoul. The charismatic entrepreneur who founded the company in 1958 was Mr. Yong Ho Shin, otherwise known under the nom de plume of Daesan – which means "The Great Mountain."
At the time of the establishment of Kyobo, Korea was suffering from both social and economic difficulties after the devastating Korean Ward. Daesan, however, saw a ray of hope in the potential of youth and decided that it was essential to promote education. He believed that for a nation with limited resources, the only step toward rebuilding the nation’s economy was through the provision of quality education. Thus, Daesan created the world’s first "educational insurance policy" by combining life insurance principles with youth education.
His indomitable spirit as a pioneer and an inventive creator contributed significantly to wide distribution of educational insurance during Korea’s modernization era, to the growth of the domestic insurance industry, and to the rapid development of Korea’s economy. The company’s name itself Daehan Kyoyuk meant "educational insurance."
In the 1980’s, to further uphold the national spirit and culture, Daesan founded the Kyobo Book Center to serve the young as a cultural plaza for exchanging knowledge and information. At the same time, he launched a campaign to expand Korea’s reading population to 10 million.
In 1987, he published a book titled New Management, which contains detailed insurance and management philosophies, and this book is widely read in the insurance field for manager of all levels. Moreover, it provides guidelines for a better u understanding of Kyobo’s Core Values, namely, "customer focus", "honesty and integrity", and "challenge."
Emphasizing the need for strength for survival in this global era, Daesan established "Gyesungwon", which is Kyobo’s Human Resources Development Institute, for the development of elite human resources with agility and creativity. The institute’s training programs are based on case studies that involve all trainees who participate as mutual teachers.
To enhance public awareness in remote areas and to restore vitality to rural areas, he set up the Daesan Foundation for Rural Culture and Society in 1991. Also, Daesan Foundation was established in 1992 to promote the national culture and literature to the world. In order to undertake environment-friendly education programs, Kyobo Foundation for Education and Culture was inaugurated in 1997. Aside from these corporate citizenship activities by the Foundations, Kyobo is involved in various domestic and overseas culture exchange programs, such as scholarship programs, support programs for the preservation and development of local cultures, and book donations to major universities and culture centers around the world.
Daesan was the first Korean entrepreneur to be nominated as one of the "top 20 domestic entrepreneurs who contributed to Korea’s economy." For his achievement in establishing a model company for education insurance, Daesan received the Presidential Commendation and Citation by the President of the Republic of Korea. He was given the Corporate Ethics Award for his selection as the most respected entrepreneur by the youth of Korea while becoming the first living entrepreneur to win the Grand Prize of Founder from the Korean Academy of Business Historians. He is the first Korean businessman to receive the Golden Crown Order of Cultural Merit, the highest accolade given to outstanding individuals in the world of culture and art in Korea.
Further, he was honored with the Crown Award from the International Association of University Presidents and the John S. Bickley Founders’ Award from the International Insurance Society. He was appointed as Honorary Professor and the Mentor of Insurance award from the University of Alabama, US, and he received the 2000 APO National Award presented by the Asia Productivity Organization.