Homeless man dies with $100,000 in the bankA homeless South Korean man died of cancer without being able to use a single penny of his life savings of $100,000 because he could not prove his identity to his bank.
Residents of the Yongbong district of Gwangju, in southwestern South Korea, knew little about the quiet man who had drifted into their neighborhood in 2007. He pulled a cart during the day to collect and sell scrap metal and other junk and slept in the cart or a shipping container. In mid-April, he looked so fragile that people ignored his protests and called an ambulance. He was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
The man then told the officials that his name was Na Hae-dong.
He had 128 million won in a bank account opened under his name decades ago. But in 1993, South Korea introduced an anti-corruption law that required an account holder to prove that the account had been opened under the holder’s real name before withdrawing money. People were given a grace period during which they could transfer their money to real-name accounts.
Apparently, Mr. Na had never heard of the law. But he had continued depositing his few earnings into the account. When he went to his bank after the cancer had been diagnosed, however, he could not take out his savings because, officially, he did not exist.
Local officials filed for court approval to give him an identity. But before the court ruled, Mr. Na died in the hospital on April 28.
His savings were expected to be donated to the state. He had no other belongings except his cart, a wristwatch and a quilt.
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