Lee Byung-chul

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Lee.
Lee Byung-chul
Founder of Samsung Corporation
Founder of Samsung Corporation
Born (1910-02-12)February 12, 1910
Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Korean Empire
Died November 19, 1987(1987-11-19) (aged 77)
Seoul, South Korea
Nationality Korean
Alma mater Waseda University in Tokyo
Occupation Founder of Samsung Group
Religion Confucianism
Korean name
Hangul 이병철
Hanja 李秉喆
Revised Romanization I Byeongcheol
McCune–Reischauer Yi Pyŏngch'ŏl

Lee Byung-chul (February 12, 1910 Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do – November 19, 1987 Seoul) was the founder of the Samsung Group and one of South Korea's most successful businessmen. With the breakup of the Hyundai chaebol, Samsung is now South Korea's largest business group[1]

Early life[edit]

Byung-chul was the son of a wealthy landowning family (a branch of the Gyeongju Lee clan). He attended college at Waseda University in Tokyo, but did not complete his degree.[2]


Upon the early death of his father, he used his inheritance to open a rice mill in his home town of Gyeongnam.[2]


That endeavor was not especially successful so he established a trucking business in Daegu on March 1, 1938, which he named Samsung Trading Co, the forerunner to Samsung.[2] Samsung means "Three Stars" which explains the initial corporate logos.

By 1945 Samsung was transporting goods throughout Korea and to other countries. The company was based in Seoul by 1947. It was one of the ten largest "trading companies" when the Korean War started in 1950.[3] With the conquest of Seoul by the North Korean army, Lee was forced to relocate his business to Pusan. The massive influx of U.S. troops and equipment into Busan over the next year and a half of the war proved to be highly beneficial to Lee's trucking company.[3]

In 1961 when General Park seized power, Lee was in Japan and for some time he did not return to South Korea. Eventually a deal was struck and Lee returned but Samsung had to give up control over the banks it acquired and follow economic directives from Park's government.[3]

Cheil Worldwide[edit]

In 1953, he founded Cheil Sugar (currently CJ CheilJedang) which became very successful and profitable. Using the income from Cheil Sugar, he founded numerous other companies which sold products in a wide variety of markets: textiles (Cheil Wool Textile Co.), cars, insurance, department stores (Shinsegae), and consumer electronics.

Federation of Korean Industries[edit]

Later in life he served as chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries and was known as the richest man in Korea.[1]

Korean art collection[edit]

After his death, his estate (Ho-Am) was opened to the public for tours. His collection of Korean art is considered one of the largest private collections in the country and it features a number of art objects that have been designated "National Treasures" by the Korean government.[4] Ho-Am is located a short distance from the Everland park, South Korea's most popular amusement park (Everland is also owned by the Samsung Group).

Ho-Am Prize[edit]

The Ho-Am Prize was founded in 1991, named after Lee's Art-name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bang, Jung-hyun, "Hail the Father of Business, Lee Byung-chul", Korea IT Times, February 11, 2010, [1]
  2. ^ a b c Woo, Jaeyeon, "Memorializing the Company Founder, With Ads, 3-D and Holograms", Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2011, Korea Realtime, [2]
  3. ^ a b c Watkins, Thaer, "The Chaebol of South Korea", Website, downloaded July 22, 2011, [3]
  4. ^ Ho Am Art Museum, "Official Web Site"

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Chairman of the Board of the Samsung Group
March 1938 – December 1987
Succeeded by
Lee Kun-hee