Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee and his wife Hong Ra-hee have donated a total of 12 billion won ($11.2 million) since last year to help build a Won-Buddhist temple in New York, industry sources said Friday.
Hong is known to be a devoted follower of Won-Buddhism, a Buddhist sect originating from Korea. Lee has no religion.
Established in 1916, Won-Buddhism aims to modernize and rejuvenate Buddhism by using conventional teachings for practical purposes.
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee and wife Hong Ra-hee
The sources said the couple has made several donations over the past year to contribute to constructing the Won Dharma Center in upstate New York.
The temple, due to open in October, will have a large meditation hall, offices, guest houses and residential facilities in a 520,000-square-meter site.
Won Buddhism operates more than 15 temples and meditation centers across the U.S.
Hong, director of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, has been an avid supporter of the religion. Her devotion is believed to come from her father Hong Jin-ki, former chairman of JoongAng Ilbo and a devout Won Buddhist.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)