The Korea Herald


Leader with an unassuming taste, many hobbies

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 20, 2012 - 13:40

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While leading 47 affiliated companies at home and 65 abroad, LS Group chairman John Koo is a family-oriented master baduk player who likes simple dishes like sujebi.

Wearing a jumper, he often goes to a small restaurant in an apartment complex in Daechi-dong, southeastern Seoul, for the hearty soup with dough flakes torn by hand.

“People laugh when I say I waited alone in a line to get into a small restaurant, but that’s who I am,” Koo said.

As the eldest of four brothers and two sisters, Koo places great importance in family and filial duties.

The 66-year-old chairman lives in the same building with his 91-year-old father and 90-year-old mother. His parents live on the seventh floor and he lives on the eighth.
LS Group chairman John Koo (right) hikes a mountain with executives of wire and cable maker SPSX, a U.S. affiliate with the group.(LS Group) LS Group chairman John Koo (right) hikes a mountain with executives of wire and cable maker SPSX, a U.S. affiliate with the group.(LS Group)

“My wife still visits them every morning when they have breakfast, even when I’m away for work,” Koo said.

Koo has family lunches with his parents and siblings every other month.

“We take turns and buy the meals, and we made it a rule that each meal does not cost more than 30,000 won per person,” he said.

LS Group is famous for joint management among cousins.

The conglomerate was founded in 2003 by the three brothers of LG Group founder Koo In-hwoi ― Tai-hwoi, Pyong-hwoi and Doo-hwoi.

The brothers had their eight sons run the group from the start.

John Koo’s only son runs a venture capital in Silicon Valley after earning an MBA in Stanford University.

Koo said it wasn’t time yet to speak about when his son will officially assume a position in LS Group management, but that his research and investment in clean tech companies were greatly helping the conglomerate plan its green business.

The chairman’s favorite hobbies include hiking, reading and playing baduk.

He likes to hike with members whenever he visits LS factories and offices.

“I used to enjoy playing golf, but I rarely play now because hiking gives me much more time to think,” he said.

He has always liked to read, with his latest interest in books on spirituality, religion and philosophy.

Being a superb baduk player himself, Koo has sponsored young baduk players not just in Korea, but also in Vietnam.

Born in 1946, John Koo graduated from Princeton University with a major in economics in 1973 and entered LG International Corp. in the same year.

He headed the company’s branches in Hong Kong between 1979 and 1981, and then in Singapore from 1982 to 1987.

Koo then returned home to serve as an executive at LG Electronics and became chairman of the electronics company in 2003.

Following LS Group’s spin-off from LG Group in November 2003, Koo has been served as chairman of the LS Group from 2004.

By Kim So-hyun (