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Samsung Electronics marks 53rd anniversary in low-key

Chaebol leaders pay tribute to victims of Itaewon crowd surge

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Bloomberg)
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Bloomberg)

Samsung Electronics on Tuesday marked the 53rd anniversary of its foundation in a toned-down event, out of respect for the victims of the recent deadly Itaewon crowd crush.

The annual event, held at a convention center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, is typically one of the Korean tech giant’s biggest celebrations. This year in particular, speculation was running high that recently promoted Chairman Lee Jae-yong would unveil concrete plans for his “New Samsung” vision.

But the mood at Tuesday’s event was far from festive, starting with a silent tribute to the victims and their bereaved families. All of the festivities, including a music concert, were canceled as well.

Saturday’s deadly tragedy left 156 people, mostly in their 20s, dead and another 151 injured as of Tuesday morning.

With Lee’s absence, Han Jong-hee, one of the co-CEOs who oversees the smartphone and home appliance business division, delivered a message to employees during the ceremony.

“Our real competitiveness can be demonstrated in difficult times,” Han said. “Based on our potential and hungry spirit, let’s take another big leap to make a new history.”

He stressed that the company will enhance efforts to realize sustainable management and innovate a new way of communication and working.

Han also pinpointed artificial intelligence, internet of things, robots and metaverse as new growth drivers that would reshape people’s lifestyles in the future, hinting at a renewed push to nurture new profit sources in these burgeoning areas.

Samsung Electronics was originally established on Jan. 13, 1969, but the foundation date was changed to Nov. 1 to commemorate the day when the company was merged with its semiconductor arm in 1988.

In the meantime, other chaebol groups also kept a low profile in light of the national mourning period this week. They were advising employees to avoid unnecessary dinner meetings while reviewing ways to offer support for the Itaewon victims.

Hyundai Motor Group has ordered all flags at its production and research facilities nationwide to be lowered, with its blue logo replaced with a black one for its social media channels.

Earlier in the day, its Chairman Chung Euisun, accompanied by Hyundai Motor CEO Chang Jae-hoon and Kia CEO Song Ho-sung, paid a visit to a mourning altar for the victims set up at Seoul Plaza in central Seoul.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who doubles as chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other leaders of business groups also visited the altar.

Local businesses have canceled their Halloween-themed marketing activities in the aftermath of the deadly crush that happened during Halloween celebrations in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Saturday.



By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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