The lost spirit of “Kimghis Khan”
In 1995, American current affairs magazine Time named Genghis Khan one of the Most Important People of the Millennium. Genghis Khan is considered to have ruled the largest land in history that included China, East Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
There is a Korean man who is called “Kimghis Khan” after the Mongol leader. It is none other than former Daewoo Chairman Kim Woo-choong. Upon graduating from Yonsei University in 1960, he joined Hansung Industry and gained experience in trading. Seven years later, he founded Daewoo Industry with 500 million won ($429,000) and less than 10 employees. At its height, Daewoo Group had more than 40 subsidiaries and over 400 branches overseas.
As entrepreneurship is especially emphasized today, Kim’s challenges and global management have special meaning. Regrettably, various forums and events inspiring entrepreneurship today do not mention Kim much. “Kimghis Khan,” who had aggressively expanded the business around the world, is forgotten in Korea today. Of course, there are mixed views on the dissolution of Daewoo Group during the financial crisis.
But Kim started with light industry and developed a business portfolio to include shipbuilding, heavy industry and construction. And he focused on pioneering new markets in Vietnam, Central Asia and Africa.
Kim is a living person with a thing or two to teach young Koreans trying to start up global businesses. He can tell college students stories of his pioneering spirit, success and failures as he started his own business after graduating from college and working for a company. No foreigner with outstanding entrepreneurship can advise young Koreans with patriotism and passion as a fellow Korean can.
by Hong Dae-soon, Professor at the Ewha Womans University School of Business