Jungwook Hong, chairman and largest shareholder of Herald Corp., has launched new corporate vision “Re-imagine!” after four years as a lawmaker in the National Assembly. In a recent interview with The Korea Herald, Hong spoke about his intention to expand the company’s presence beyond the media.
Hong outlined his plan to create a company that influences consumers’ lifestyles, revealing his ambition to enter the consumer market with a series of new businesses.
Following is a Q&A with Hong.
KH: What have you been doing since you completed your term in the National Assembly?
Hong: I would like to express my gratitude to those who supported me so that I could finish my four-year parliamentary term without any major mistakes. I donated all of my parliamentary allowances from April before my term finished in May and started to work on setting a new vision and business for Herald Corp. as the largest shareholder of the company. I am also managing Olje, a non-profit corporation aimed at providing academic and cultural content for the public. As the major shareholder of the company, I am responsible for keeping the company financially healthy and should take moral responsibility as well as managing its performance. Now, I am concentrating more on establishing a mid- and long-term vision, leading the company’s drive to create new business and building a sense of pride among all members of Herald Corp.
KH: What are your general goals for Herald Corp.?
Hong: I want to make the company grow and make a contribution to society with the success of the company. It’s been 10 years since I acquired the company. I’ve been the driving force in operating the company in the black for seven consecutive years, resolving its impaired capital and turning it into the media company with the highest profit rate in Korea. Now it is time to set a new plan for another 10 years.
Herald Corp. has infinite possibilities to go beyond its media business and become a company that influences consumers’ lives. Herald also has a brand power that is modern, sophisticated and that also goes beyond differences in ideologies.
By taking advantage of the company’s unique brand and its wide media network, we need to break the barrier between subscribers and consumers in the areas of manufacturing and retail.
We need to expand the size of the company so that we can better deal with market variables and secure freedom of the press.
We are going to face a “media big bang” in the next three to five years. There will be many media companies that go under during the massive restructuring process. Companies with vision and enough cash will survive. And the Herald is one of them.
KH: What new businesses is Herald Corp. expanding into?
Hong: The two core businesses of Herald Corp. are “Information & Knowledge” and “Lifestyle & Environment.” For the environment-friendly business part, I needed to find items that allow the company to make a gradual investment but produce profits stably at the same time.
The company’s new subsidiary Herald Ecochem satisfied these criteria. The Lifestyle business was developed by using our media platforms. Herald Corp. has various subsidies including two major newspapers ― Herald Business and The Korea Herald ― and their online platforms, Donga TV, Artday and social shopping platform Bongpong. By having businesses work together, we will develop proper lifestyle products that also well represent the Herald brand.
KH: Lastly, what are your hopes as chairman?
Hong: I will do my best to make subscribers and consumers think that the Herald is different. Under the company’s new slogan “Re-imagine!”, I will expand the company’s presence beyond its media business and turn the company into one that influences consumers’ lifestyles.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)