중앙데일리

Dreaming of greener energy

[The faces inside KOREA’S CONGLOMERATES:Daesung group]
Born of a succession struggle, the current Daesung Group includes 24 subsidiaries from energy to culture,

Apr 06,2009
Younghoon David Kim (57) Bachelor’s degree in law, Seoul National University
Master’s degree in comparative law and business administration, University of Michigan Graduate School
Master’s in divinity, Harvard
“Faces inside Korea’s conglomerates” is a weekly series about key figures in major conglomerates to help readers understand Korea’s business world.

The soft-spoken and gentle Chairman Younghoon David Kim seems more like a pastor than leader of a conglomerate. In fact he once dreamed of religious life - he even has a master’s in divinity from Harvard University.

But today Kim is the chairman of Daesung Group, one of the top 50 conglomerates in the country, with 24 subsidiaries, including Daegu City Gas.

Daesung’s main business is energy with “strategic business” in content.

Kim is the second-youngest of the six children of Daesung Group founder Kim Soo-keun. His younger sister Kim Sung-joo is chairman of Sungjoo Group, known for the luxury brand MCM.

Daesung Industrial was founded as a briquette production company in 1947 with 12 employees, but it grew rapidly. After the founder passed away in 2001, the group fractured. The eldest son, Kim Young-tae, took control of Daesung Industrial, while Younghoon David Kim took over Daegu City Gas, a unit of Daesung Group. Both brothers renamed their companies Daesung Group, and the two have still not resolved their differences.

The second son Kim Young-min is chairman of Seoul City Gas, the third major component of the original Daesung Group.

All three brothers are in the energy business. The younger Kim in particular has been a leading advocate for global energy development. Since 2005 he has been a vice chairman on the 93-nation World Energy Council. With Kim’s help, Daegu will host a WEC meeting in 2013, with about 5,000 participants including heads of energy companies and government officials from some 100 countries.

Chairman David Kim has also taken an interest in climate change, and invested in eco-friendly energy. One of Daesung Group’s biggest ambitions is the “Green Eco-Energy Park Project,” currently under way in Mongolia. It’s designed to power facilities and homes in the Gobi Desert using a hybrid solar and wind power system, with the ultimate goal of water treatment and reforestation to reduce yellow dust.

But the chairman has also shown a keen interest in culture over the years. Daesung Group headquarters in downtown Seoul has a library of over 8,000 DVDs and 12,000 publications.

Daesung Group has over the years aggressively invested in film, television dramas, games and other content.

Most recently, the conglomerate signed a joint agreement with Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute and the New Zealand Institute of Screen Innovation to develop film and animation techniques.

The oldest sister, Kim Young-joo, is vice chairman of David Kim’s Daesung Group, while Kim Jung-joo is president of Daesung.com, cultural contents provider.

Both sisters are well educated in the arts and culture. While Young-joo is a famous artist, Jung-joo, who has a doctorate in theology from Harvard Divinity School, is currently a professor of theology at Yonsei University. Both sisters helped relaunch the Web portal Korea.com after Daesung Group acquired it in 2005.

Suzanna Samstag Oh, the only American among Daesung Group’s top officials, has been a senior adviser on energy and culture since 2006.

Oh is currently acting as the Korean liaison to the World Energy Council. A former staffer at the Korean-language edition of Newsweek, Oh was a big help in bringing the council meeting to Daegu. She also participated in the expansion of Daesung Group’s cultural businesses, including the recent New Zealand deal.

Lee Chong-moo, president of Daesung’s largest subsidiary Daegu City Gas, is the latest addition to the group. Lee was recruited in March 2009 for his expertise and ability to network abroad. Lee worked for more than 30 years as a diplomat in countries including Hungary, India and the oil-rich Kuwait.


By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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