중앙데일리

Proud developers of local technology

[The faces inside KOREA’S CONGLOMERATES:82] Growth in demand for LED displays, along with the industrial diamonds used to cut them, have driven recent growth at Iljin.

Aug 09,2010
Iljin Group has a simple mission: to produce high-tech materials with strictly Korean technology. It’s a goal it’s always striven for in its core businesses: materials, components, electrical systems and communications.

Although not as well known as Samsung or LG, Iljin made major contributions to cutting Korea’s need for technology imports, helping make local electronics makers into exporters since its founding in 1967. Iljin also managed to develop most of its products using its own technology.

Iljin founder Huh Chin-kyu was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps when he discovered that all of Korea’s essential military equipment such as ammunition and vehicles were being imported from the United States. When Huh learned that even such basic sectors such as electricity, development and construction were highly dependent on overseas technology, he felt that Korea’s economy would be threatened in the future if it did not develop domestic equivalents.

Huh started his career as an engineer, but soon had to look for a new path when his first employer went bankrupt in his first year. Instead of getting a new job, Huh decided to start a business of his own out of his house, working with nonferrous metals such as aluminum. He named the company Iljin. Though there were only two employees at first, Huh didn’t waver in his ambition to shift production to Korea. Today the conglomerate is ranked between the 50th and 60th largest in Korea by assets.

Iljin tasted its first success in 1969, when it designed and made power distribution fittings for the Korea Electric Power Corporation. More opportunities followed in the 70s, and eventually 90 percent of Iljin’s close to 400 products were developed through its own technology, from communications, fiber-optic and high-pressure electric cables to industrial synthetic diamonds.

In the ’80s and ’90s, Iljin expanded its main business areas to include other sectors such as semiconductors, displays, new materials, finance and even broadcasting. The group has four listed companies including Iljin Holdings, Iljin Electric, Iljin Diamond and Iljin Display, and eight subsidiaries including Iljin Copper Foil, Iljin Steel, Iljin Semiconductor, Iljin Unisco, Jeonju Television, Initus, Vimed Systems and I-Tech Investment.

With its main products including equipment for electrical transmission and distribution, gas-insulated switchgear, extra high voltage power transformers and cables, Iljin Electric successfully merged with Iljin Heavy Industries in 2007, becoming the first company in Korea to specialize in both electric products and heavy industry. Among the top three extra high voltage power cable companies in Korea, it hopes to reach 600 billion won ($516.6 million) in annual sales by 2015.

Employees of Iljin Electric show their spirit in front of its production facility in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi. Provided by Iljin Group

Iljin Diamond was the first Korean company - and the third in the world - to develop industrial synthetic diamonds. It is now one of the largest industrial diamond manufacturers in the world. It plans to invest an additional 10 billion won by the end of the year to increase production of diamonds for light-emitting diode (LED) displays and solar energy boards.

Iljin Display, which split off of the Diamond sector in 2004, produces sapphire wafers, the main materials for LEDs, and touch panels for touch screens. The display unit also plans to invest 14 billion won by the end of the year to expand production.

But the driving force behind all of this is Iljin’s technology.

Iljin was the first to localize a wide range of technologies including power distribution hardware, copper-clad steel wire, electrodeposited copper foil for printed circuit boards and liquid crystal display panels for projectors. It is also the domestic leader in curtain wall technology for the construction of tall buildings.

The group has always emphasized research and development, employing 100 research professionals in seven facilities. In 2008, Iljin decided to restructure and established Iljin Holdings.

Huh Chin-kyu, the group’s chairman, received his bachelor’s degree in material sciences and engineering at Seoul National University.

Choi Jin-yong, the group’s vice chairman and chief executive of Iljin Electric, started his career at Taihan Electric Wire after graduating from Inha University, earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Choi joined Iljin Group in 1993 as a director at Iljin Electric and made his way up in 2004 to chief executive of Iljin Heavy Industries, which later merged with Iljin Electric. Choi became the group’s vice chairman this year.

Huh Jung-suk, the oldest son of Huh Chin-kyu, joined Iljin Group in 2002 as a director and became the president and CEO of Iljin Holdings in 2007. He is also the co-CEO of Iljin Electric. The second-oldest son, Huh Jae-myung, is president and CEO of Iljin Copper Foil.

Choi Kyoo-sool, the vice president and CEO of Iljin Diamond, worked his way up from the bottom of the corporate ladder after joining Iljin Diamond in 1990. Choi has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Chonbuk National University.

Shim Im-soo, the president and CEO of Iljin Display, spent most of his career at Samsung SDI, becoming a specialist in display technology. After spending 20 years at Samsung, Shim joined Iljin as the CEO in 2009 to push Iljin’s display sector in a more competitive direction. Shim earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics at Pusan National University and a master’s degree in business administration at the same school.

With its industrial diamonds successful globally and other products holding down sizeable market shares, Iljin’s vision continues to be to provide the best products and services using native technology.

Always emphasizing its R&D, Iljin plans to continue investing and developing new products in its main sectors.

“Iljin Group’s main subsidiaries include Iljin Electric, Iljin Display, and Iljin Diamond, where Iljin Electric has brought the group stable profits until now,” said Hong Jin-ho, an analyst at IBK Securities. “Recently, LED displays have shown huge industry growth and even came to the point where there is a shortage in supply.

“This is why the display sector, along with the industrial diamonds used to cut its products, will be the group’s greatest strengths in the future,” Hong added.


By Jung Seung-hyun [seungjung@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장