A founder falls, martyrs marry and a scholar is suspectedNov. 19, 1987
Lee Byung-chul was 28 years old when he opened Samsung Trading Company in Daegu, exporting fruit and dried fish to China and Japan. Born in Uiryeong, South Gyeongsang province, Mr. Lee started from scratch, with the mottos “Being in the red is a crime” and “Patriotism by business.” No wonder his Samsung ― meaning “three stars” in Chinese characters ― became today’s Samsung Group, the No. 1 Korean conglomerate. Until he died on this date at the age of 77, Mr. Lee left his footprints deep in Korean history, not only as the head of Samsung but as a pioneer of modern Korean society. He founded JoongAng Ilbo, one of Korea’s three major newspapers, in 1965, and established Ho-Am Art Museum in Yongin, Gyeonggi province, the biggest of its kind in Asia. With a reputation as a principled perfectionist, Mr. Lee was known for being open to change, and for challenging accepted ideas in business; he read extensively, met a wide variety of people and took constant notes. Lee Kun-hee, his son, took over Samsung Group after his father’s death and is still chairman.
Nov. 19, 1995
Kim Tae-nyeon and Seo Hyeon-mu were flowers who died before they could bloom. The two Chung-Ang University students died in 1960 taking part in the April 19 Revolution, protesting then-President Syngman Rhee’s ambitions for dictatorship. They were among more than 100 people killed in the suppression of the protests by riot police. Mr. Kim and Ms. Seo were 22 and 23 years old. Many Koreans believe that those who die before marrying do not rest in peace. The parents of Mr. Kim and Ms. Seo thus decided to give their spirits solace by holding a wedding for them, called yeonghon gyeolhonsik. The wedding took place in Nov. 1960; on this date, the couple was buried together in the national cemetery for the April 19 victims.
Nov. 20, 1997
Nobody would have guessed that the scholar Go Yeong-bok was a North Korean spy before the Agency for National Security Planning made the charge on this date. An honorary professor of sociology at Seoul National University, Mr. Go had been designing social development programs in the Park Chung Hee administration, a hard-core anti-Communist regime. Published for decades in right-leaning journals and books, Mr. Go might have been one of the last people suspected of working with North Korea. The agency, however, said that Mr. Go had been spying for the North for 36 years. Mr. Go’s friends and family defended him, saying that the government should consider that he had family in the North. The following year, a court found Mr. Go not guilty of espionage, saying there was scarce evidence that he had actually given North Korea useful information; however, he was sentenced to serve two years in prison for meeting with North Korean spies.
by Chun Su-jin