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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Samsung, Lee Kun-hee and the son

Samsung Anycall SH-770 (click for a larger photo in a new window)Some link and google hopping.
Hankyoreh has a main page story of the tenth anniversary of the appearance of Samsung Anycall (the first model SH-770; click the picture on the right for a larger photo) and the first kimchi refrigerator. Kimchi fridge is now in 57% of Korean families.

When looking for a picture of the SH-770 model, I ended up at a Money Today piece (via Empas) on the personal history of Lee Kun-hee (이건희), the chairman of Samsung (or whatever his formal title in the company is).

Born in Daegu, "close to a brothel area, next to a marketplace" as one of three sons and five daughters in 1942 to the house of Samsông Sanghoe; this is how the signboard of the company has looked at the time: 三星商會. An interesting piece of personal info is that he went to the university in Japan and graduated from Waseda in 1965, the year Republic of Korea and Japan normalized (?) their relations. The colonial experience of Korean businessmen has not been insignificant, as can be read from for example Carter Eckert's Offspring of Empire: The Koch'ang Kim's and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism 1876-1945). (Update. Sugar Shin in the comments adds that Lee Kun-hee's father, Lee Byung-chull, was a Waseda University dropout during the colonial time.)

Lee Kun-hee and sonAnd then I was reminded of all the not that positive reporting amidst all the success of Samsung Electronics of the not-that-beautiful maneuvering of assets between the chairman Lee Kun-hee and his son Lee Jay-yong, who are the richest and second richest persons in Korea.
Especially Ohmynews has done a good job in keeping track of Samsung's exploits. Here they express disappointment at the decision of the Supreme Court to reverse the fines given to Samsung by the Fair Trade Commission for handing over shares to the next generation (the son Jay-yong) way below the market price.

And let's also add a column from Chosun Ilbo, in which the writer has questions to the chairman Lee that needs to be made despite of all the praises that the company undoubtedly deserves.
The Lee family has been able to control Samsung Electronics through their ownership in Everland and Samsung Life insurance company. Now that the government is drawing designs for legislation to restrict the power (ûigyôlkwôn) of financing companies, it is as if the Korean control would be in danger of being snatched by foreigners in Samsung Electronics, of which 57% is in foreign ownership. Samsung is said to try to lobby the public opinion by saying that is the "signboard company" of the Republic of Korea going to be handed over to foreigners. (The writer reminds that there's been no talk of fears of losing the control of company in Nokia despite of 89% of the ownership being outside the land of origin of the company.)
둘째, 삼성생명을 통한 지배구조를 언제까지 끌고갈 것인가다. 삼성생명의 돈은 고객 돈이다. 고객 돈으로 지분관리를 하는 것은 합법적이지만 정도(正道)는 아니다. 국민정서도 산업자본과 금융자본은 분리해 나가야 한다는 것이다. 20~30년 후를 내다본다면 이건희 회장은 이제 그룹 지배구조에 대한 단안을 내려야 한다.
셋째, 삼성은 자구(自救)노력을 하고 있는가다. 삼성전자가 그룹에 중요한 회사라면 우선 이 회장은 다른 계열사 주식을 팔아 삼성전자 지분율을 끌어올리는 성의를 보여야 한다. 먼저 이런 노력을 한다면 국민여론도 삼성에 우호적으로 바뀔 수 있을 것이다.
삼성은 이건희 회장 가문에게 차등의결권 주식(dual class share ·보통주보다 훨씬 많은 의결권을 갖는 주식)을 부여하는 방안을 정부에 타진한 것으로 전해진다. 이렇게 되면 삼성의 경영권은 탄탄하게 될 것이나, 상법을 고쳐야 한다.

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Comments to note "Samsung, Lee Kun-hee and the son" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous Anonymous> said on 8.9.05 : 

nice blog, indeed.

can you tell me where I can find the picture of Lee Byung Chull, founder of Samsung. thanks


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