Stop TB Partnership

About the Kochon Prize

Chong Kun LeeThe Kochon Prize is awarded annually by Stop TB Partnership to individuals and/or organizations that have made a significant contribution to combating TB. The Kochon Prize, which is endowed by the Kochon Foundation, a non-profit foundation registered in the Republic of Korea, consists of a USD $65,000 award.

The Kochon Prize was established in 2006 in honour of the late Chairman Chong-Kun Lee (left), founder of the Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corporation and Kochon Foundation in Korea, who was committed throughout his career to improving access to low-cost lifesaving antibiotics and anti-TB drugs. "Kochon" was a pen name that he used.

Born in a small Korean village in 1919, Chairman Lee was too poor to access higher education. Despite his poverty he grew up with a constructive and optimistic view of the world. Through Chairman Lee’s diligence, frugality and initiative, the small drug store he founded in 1941 grew to become the Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corporation, one of the most important Korean pharmaceutical manufacturers. While doing business, he realized how the high price of drugs would negatively affect access to life-saving drugs like antibiotics and anti-TB drugs. These drugs were expensive because most were imported. Chairman Lee decided he could reduce prices though bulk production of drugs via synthesis and fermentation technology.

In the 1960s, the government and people of Korea were still struggling in their fight against TB. The country's weak economy did not allow poor patients to afford then-expensive anti-TB drugs. That changed when Chairman Lee's company began producing anti-TB drugs such as ethambutol and rifampicin using its own technology and became the major supplier of both raw materials and final products.

Once Chairman Lee's business stabilized, he sought a way to share his achievements with society. At first, he helped employees pursue studies at night and then he decided to provide young people with better opportunities for education. In March 1973, he established the Kochon Foundation to award scholarships, grants and research funds. The assets of the Kochon Foundation grew from $20,000 USD at the outset to $21 million USD in 1993, the year he passed away.

The Kochon Foundation, a non-profit organization, is legally and financially independent from the Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corporation. Chairman Lee emphasized that he had a mission to supply better medicines to everyone who needed them. The Kochon Foundation is unable to supply medicines, but it has been implementing his philosophy. The Kochon Foundation's desire to actively contribute to the fight against TB resulted in the establishment of the 2014 Kochon Prize.