Kim Woo-jung

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Kim Woo-jung
Revised Romanization Gim U-Choong
McCune–Reischauer Kim U-Choong

Kim Woo-Choong (born December 19, 1936) was the founder and chairman of the Daewoo Group (대우). Born in Daegu, he was the son of the provincial governor.

He was a newspaper delivery boy when he was a youngster, helping a family that depended almost solely on him during a brief period. He graduated from the prestigious Kyunggi High School, then finished with an Economics Degree at Yonsei University in Seoul. His father was the teacher or mentor of Former President, Park Chung Hee, who in turn supported Kim to a great degree both financially and business-wise.

After graduating from Yonsei, he entered into a small trading corporation, later specialising in textiles and clothing. He broke off and created Daewoo Industries with 5 people as his associates. Using his connections in both alumni of the Yonsei and political backing, he managed to do well, and consecutively bought many different companies. It would not be wrong to say that Daewoo Group was originally built on companies that were bought (most heavily in trouble). Kim was a magician in turning near-bankrupt companies into successive cash machines. With a company that had a history of 30 years, by the 90s, Daewoo Group was listed Number 2 on assets, Number 3 on revenues, an unbelievable achievement for anybody with knowledge of how the other Big 3 Korean companies, (Hyundai, LG, Samsung), made their mark.

But due to its rather hollow financial structure, even though it had the most Overseas Branch offices, when the Asian Financial Crisis came about, the unstable Daewoo Group plummeted. It had to sell off nearly 50 division corporations, only focusing on the major companies.

Kim was on the list for the Interpol when he was in exile, because of how he left Daewoo with the insurmountable debt, to his employees etc...

He was arrested soon after he returned to South Korea on June 14, 2005, and apologized "for hurting the nation and accepted full responsibility for the collapse of the group, adding he is ready to accept whatever the authorities have in store for him," according to the Chosun Ilbo.[1] In May 2006 he was sentenced to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of charges including embezzlement and accounting fraud. 21 trillion won ($22bn) of his fortune was seized and he was fined an additional 10m won.[2]

On 30 December 2007, he was granted amnesty by President Roh Moo-hyun. South Korean presidents traditionally hand out pardons for the new year.[3]

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