Samsung chairman encourages staff at birthday

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 9, 2014 - 21:02
  • Updated : Jan 9, 2014 - 21:02
Lee Kun-hee
Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee on Thursday hosted a New Year’s dinner gathering for president-level executives to mark his 72nd birthday.

The country’s richest man has been inviting senior Samsung executives to his birthday celebrations since 2008.

Lee’s remarks are often closely watched as they can set the tone not just for South Korea’s largest market-cap conglomerate he inherited from his father but also for the entire business community.

Lee also attended a separate ceremony prior to the dinner to award dedicated employees.

Hong Ra-hee, Lee’s wife and the director of the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, accompanied the chairman, along with Lee’s other family members including his son Lee Jay-yong who will be taking over Samsung.

Lee’s two daughters ― Lee Boo-jin, head of Hotel Shilla Co., and Lee Seo-hyun, head of fashion division in Samsung Everland Inc.― also attended the dinner event, company officials said.

This year, Samsung has expanded the invite list to include vice-president level executives and their spouses in an apparent bid to bolster ties among employees amid the prolonged economic challenges from home and abroad.

The annual “Samsung Award of Honor” ceremony was established in 1994 to recognize dedicated workers in commemoration of Samsung’s so-called New Management Initiative, the conglomerate’s key business strategy announced in 1993.

One of Lee’s most famous lines in announcing the strategy, which aims to turn the group into a world-class business entity, was “Change everything but your wife and children.”

Samsung insiders said Lee, who returned home in December after spending two months abroad, plans to head overseas again but is not likely to visit the Consumer Electronics Show, which runs through Friday in Las Vegas. Lee has visited the CES in 2010 and 2012.

Samsung Electronics Co., the key affiliate of Samsung Group, is estimated to have posted a record-high operating profit of 36.77 trillion won ($34.46 billion) in 2013, the company said in a regulatory filing Tuesday, although its fourth-quarter operating profit in that year is assessed to have plunged 18.3 percent from the previous three-month period. The estimate fell short of initial expectations, casting a cloud over its future performance.

Earlier this year, Lee said in his New Year’s message that Samsung needs to look further out than others and come up with new technologies and enter new markets that call for the convergence of industries and technologies. (Yonhap News)