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Koo Bon-moo, chairman of LG Group, dies at 73

Koo Bon-moo, chairman of South Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate LG Group, died Sunday at the age of 73.

He reportedly had two brain surgeries last year and was hospitalized due to side effects since early this year.

His family refused life-sustaining treatment and decided to carry out a simple and private funeral, in accordance to the wishes of the deceased, company officials said.

“Seize opportunities to grow amid changes and build foundations for permanency overcoming the crisis.” This was the last official phrase made by Koo in January 2017 in a speech to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the group.

Past successes are no longer meaningful, considering the newly unfolding business environment nowadays, Koo underscored.

(LG Group)

Koo was born in 1945 in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, as the eldest son of LG Group Honorary Chairman Koo Cha-kyung, the eldest son of group founder Koo In-hwoi.

He went to Yonsei University in 1964 and then graduated from Ashland University before earning a Master of Business Administration from Cleveland State University.

In 1975, he joined the group through LG Chem, where he worked as a rank-and-file officer for years going through managerial training in accordance with the Koo family’s inheritance principles.

After serving in LG Chem’s exports management department, Koo led the maintenance department of the chemical firm until 1980. Then, he moved to LG Electronics as a director and worked at its Tokyo office until 1984.

LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo (Yonhap)
LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo (Yonhap)

It was in 1985 that he officially geared up for his future leadership as he joined the chairman’s office. He became chairman of the group in 1995 and took helm of the holding company LG Corp. in 2003.

Throughout his years as the group’s top chief, Koo had widely been credited for managing the conglomerate in a stable manner, keeping a clear focus on personnel and technology research and development.

The late Koo has five siblings: Heeseong Group Chairman and Korea Baseball Organization Commissioner Bon-neung, LG Electronics Vice Chairman Bon-joon, Heesung Group Vice Chairman Bon-sik, and two sisters.

Koo married folk artist Kim Yeong-sik, daughter of former Minister of Health Kim Tae-dong, and they have two daughters. He adopted his nephew Koo Kwang-mo, now vice president of LG Electronics, in 2004.

As news broke that the chairman was in a critical condition at a hospital in Seoul on Thursday, his adopted son Koo Kwang-mo was named to join the board of directors of LG Corp. as one of the representatives of major shareholders, which raised speculations about the group’s speedier succession procedures.

“Under the owner family’s strict principle of handing over the leadership to the eldest son, the chairman’s son by document, Koo Kwang-mo, is joining the board,” an LG Corp. official said. 

By Song Su-hyun (
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Korea Herald daum