A Honorary Chairperson of Washington Post
"A Giant, Who I Have Met in a Small Oriental Country"
Ho-Am was a charismatic business leader, as well as a very attractive person. I remember him as an extremely warm-hearted man. He was kind even to those who were not familiar with the management, like myself. When I heard that many Koreans consider Ho-Am as a bit difficult person to deal with, I was very much puzzled. He may seem a bit cool-hearted and stern, but he's a person with a heart of gold. I hope he would be recognized not only as an excellent businessman, but also as a person who has a spirit of humanity.
Most of the people think business is all about earning money. But in my opinion, he was a business leader who was beyond any desire for material comforts in life.
The most impressive thing about him was his extraordinary love for his nation and the people. The unique history of Korea may be a part of the reason for his patriotism, but I believe there's something really special about his management philosophy. Most of the people think business is all about earning money. And I know that Ho-Am had the special gift of making money, too. But in my opinion, he was a business leader who was beyond any desire for material comforts in life.
I think there are first-class enterprisers and second-class ones. To become the first-class enterpriser, one must pass beyond the greeds. In that sense, Ho-Am was the first-class enterpriser. I remember hearing him say one day, in an informal meeting that "management is basically to serve the nation, people and to contribute to the public
I believe that his spirit was high enough to achieve anything in this world.
People would say, never be a slave of money. But that's easier said than done. It is quite difficult trying to get rid of the desire for more money and power. Ho-Am contributed all of his private assets in establishing Samsung Foundation of Cultural Center. In other words, he has act exactly according to his beliefs and his words. In addition, he donated all of his valuable collections for many Koreans to see and enjoy. This grand action proofs his greatness as a first-class business leader.
I was surprised at the grand size of Samsung and its excellent facilities, when I recently had a chance to visit Korea. I could feel that Ho-Am's desire of providing the workers with a working condition that is in no way inferior to developed countries has been fulfilled. Though born in a small oriental country, I believe that his spirit was high enough to achieve.
Chung Ju Young
Founder of Hyundai
It is a well known fact that Ho-Am was an outstanding businessman. He founded Samsung with his precise decisions and keen insights. He made it possible for Samsung to become one of the greatest corporations, not only in Korea but in the world.
Ho-Am was a person who knew that business all deals with people.
In business world, the size of a capital doesn't always decide the success. The success of a company depends on the efforts of all the crew, as well as the efforts of the business leader himself. Therefore, not only the efforts of the business leader, but also the efforts of the workers must be recognized.
Ho-Am was a person who knew that business all deals with people. His managing philosophy can be summarized as "priority to human resources." His enthusiasm for opening offices for talented ones had an enormous influence over other corporations in Korea.
However, Ho-Am achieved much more than just opening ways for talented people. He was a person who was very self-disciplined. He was always dressed very neatly, and that is just one example of his self-discipline. His attitude of adherence on 'principle of the first' needs to be changed and developed at the present of 'era of infinite competition'.
Making dreams of success come true by pointing out and correcting every single mistakes! I know that in the middle of the rough road to success for Samsung, Ho-Am was standing tall.
Instead of talking about episodes that everyone already knows about, I would like to talk about Ho-Am's unique attitude toward victory and defeat. An enterpriser must be persistent enough to invest in uncertain future with a strong sense of confidence. Success is not guaranteed to anybody. Therefore, it is very important to put his all into the business with a belief that he will surely success. And this is especially the case with a leader of a business, who must have an accurate insight for the uncertain future.
I was able to see Ho-Am's attitude towards a victory and a defeat in numerous golf matches. It is often said that the way one plays golf shows his personalities well. I used to observe his attitude while we were playing golf together. Ho-Am hated being defeated, whether it is a matter of a business or a mere sports game. This was clearly shown in all the golf matches we have played together. Even if it is a goodwill match, he hated losing, and if he happens to lose, he would always defeat his defeater in the next match.
When the players are similar in skills and talents, it is only natural for him to win in a game and lose in another. Then why should he be so sensitive to his defeats? In my opinion, he wasn't so upset about the defeat itself, as much as he was upset over the way he played. In other words, he could cope with the defeat, but he could not accept his own mistakes during the match. I am pretty sure that Ho-Am looked back at each mistakes he had made after the game, and tried his best in correcting them in his next match.
One is sure to face with a turning point of victory and defeat, when managing a business. At some point, one must make a clear-cut decision however grim the reality may seem, and at other point, one must wait for another chance to come. In either cases, unless one is confident with his success, he can't but give up on everything.
I believe that Samsung's steady success since 1960's, is thanks to Ho-Am's attitude toward success. Nobody expected that Samsung would succeed this much in the field of semiconductor. But I know that behind the success, there were massive efforts of Ho-Am and his crew in sorting out their merits and weakness in every step. Making dreams of success come true by pointing out and correcting every single mistakes! I know that in the middle of the rough road to success for Samsung, Ho-Am was standing tall.
Chariman of GE
"Low Voice That Held Progressive Ambition"
I met Ho-Am for the first time when he visited General Electrics Company in the U.S. There was something very special about him... as if he was shielded by an aurora. I had the impression that he was a very wonderful person. Most Americans tend to speak in loud voices, but I remember him speaking in a very soft one. So in order to listen to him, we had to pay close attention. Maybe that is one of the reasons why I thought he was surrounded by an aurora. Just imagine us all standing near him in order to catch every words he spoke... I felt myself completely lost in his speech... as if by magic.
He was highly motivated as well. It is difficult for an elder person to be as motivated as a young man. He was still progressively motivated for his age.
I had several occasions to meet him in person due to the joint-work of our companies, and during those times, I had a feeling that he and I shared a lot in common. I believe that there are four most important things that are required for business leaders. They include, taking responsibility, putting priority to workers, the ability to arrange the right person in the right place, and having an accurate vision. Ho-Am was a business leader who possessed all these traits as a business leader. I especially agree with his principle of 'putting priority to human resources.' I was moved by his remark of 'I strive for rationality in management not through working with robots, but through working with talented people. Even though the culture of the East and the West differ from each other, it is a common principle to seek good human resources and considering them as family while operating a corporation.
His sincerity and interest in development of technology could not be overlooked in terms of his manners. You would understand how Korea's incredible economic growth was possible if you had met Ho-Am at that time. He was highly motivated as well. It is difficult for an elder person to be as motivated as a young man. He was still progressively motivated for his age. Ho-Am intended to make Samsung a global corporation, and this drive was derived from a confidence in technology of developed countries.
One month before he passed away, I met him in Seoul concerning joint-ventures of our companies. I could notice that his voice was lower and his complexion was worse than before while we talked about the future of our two corporations and the possibility of a joint-venture. I felt that his time was coming to an end, and he probably felt the same way. Nevertheless, he was resolute and did his best until the very end, and it quite was impressive. I recall revering his attitude of sincerity which was entitled only to those who did their best throughout their entire life. I also believe that a real manager, like Ho-Am sacrifice his life and welcome his death for the longevity of a business.
Lee O Ryeong
Professor of Ewha Womans University
"A Golden Statue"
I met him quite often as an editor of Joongang Daily not in a formal meeting, but at his regular Korean restaurant behind the building of Hankook Ilbo. One day as I was going back to the office after a meal, he told me to ride in his car. I did not refuse because of the heavy rain of that day.
He made huge statues not out of cements, but out of Korean culture. And I no matter how heavy rainstorm may be, nothing can destroy or harm these magnificent statues.
As we passed Sejong Street in his car, he whispered 'goodness' as he gazed at the landscape outside. The makeshift plaster statues of ancestors displayed on Sejong Street during the military government were being pulled down with the rain. It was a shameful scene.
"That is a scene of our history and culture. It is shameful to build a statue which cannot withstand the rain, while other countries make ones that last for centuries.." I boldly asked him, "Why don't we build such a splendid statue? What I envy most about cities in Europe is the magnificent statues. Since 'statue' and 'ancestor' are pronounced alike, I mentioned a joke emphasizing its double meaning. Then he suggested that I find Korean figures who can represent Korea in a serious light He added that Japan could succeed in its modernization by building statues of Ninomia Sondogu who was a national model.
He told me, "You had better find intimate figures of culture rather than kings, politicians and soldiers." He stressed that economy, politics and welfare of every family in a nation will prosper on the basis of culture and morality, therefore, a model to be understood and learnt by everyone is necessary. Of course I agreed, but any hero of culture did not come to my mind. In the end, I could not keep the promise and it seemed to be forgotten. But he was different. I realized that his affection for our culture was not a temporary sentiment. He was willing to constitute his fortune and cultural properties to society by establishing a foundation of culture after a while.
He made huge statues not out of cements, but out of Korean culture. And I no matter how heavy rainstorm may be, nothing can destroy or harm these magnificent statues. He carried out his remarkable plans to fill the hearts of people with Korean culture. He bought back national treasures that were plundered or illegally sold by Japanese. By this, he was able to make an altar portrait of Buddhism here in Korea once again. He devoted his fortune and time to antiques for a pursuit of the beauty itself and with pure passion for preserving them. Everyone who has visited Ho-Am Art Gallery should understand what this means.
Who could have imagined the beauty of Korean culture, if those pictures were hidden deep in someone's closet? His collections are not only admired by Koreans, but by people from all over the world.
I became to respect and love Koreans through him. I met Ho-Am only several days ago in Seoul. He is a giant patron who loves and strives to continue Korean culture, rather than just a great enterpriser.
Ho-Am had not only influenced in introducing past cultural arts. But those who wishes to carry on Ho-Am's intention have founded an award named, 'Ho-Am Award.' The purpose of the award is to award people who are both intelligent and diligent.
This took place when there was an interview with the president of Pioneer Co., Ltd in Japan. I was able to reassure Ho-Am's passion and love for culture and his will to carry on the beauty of Korean culture. As soon as the president of Pioneer Co.,Ltd saw me, he said "I have heard of you a lot from Ho-Am. I became to respect and love Koreans through him. I met Ho-Am only several days ago in Seoul. He is a giant patron who loves and strives to continue Korean culture, rather than just a great enterpriser. We usually talk about the beauty of Korea's culture, rather than about business."
I had this chance to think of Ho-Am, not only as a great business leader, but also as a person who had extraordinary love for the country and its culture. I saw an illusion that miserable plaster statues that were falling down in the rain on Sejon street, changing into magnificent golden statues. I reassured to myself, "Let's not shiver in the cold anymore. There's no reason to stand in the rain any longer. For the beauty of Korean culture will not fall apart like those plaster statues, as long as a person like Ho-Am is in Korea."
Shin Yong Ho
Honorary Chairman of Kyobo Life Insurance
"Beautiful Air of Ho-Am That Was Formed By a Prominent Sense of Beaty"
I have felt lonely since my long-time friend, Ho-Am, passed away. Where would I find another one like him? Though it has been ten years already since he passed away, my longingness for him has not diminished in the least.
Ho-Am was a man who had the great taste to recognize skills. Ho-Am had a keen sense in appreciating the beauty of art.
Ho-Am was a man who had a great taste. Anyone who had a chance to see him in person would know what I mean, when I say I was always fascinated by his air of beauty. It was no secrete that Ho-Am was a very fashionable dresser. He always used the best quality products, not only his suites, but also in other things, such as belts or fountain pen. But when I say the "Best quality," I don't necessary mean a very expensive or fancy brands. Before Ho-Am became rich, he had a chance to measure his suite from a small and humble tailor shop in Tokyo. Though it was a small shop, the skills of the tailer was fascinating. The tailer was a very diligent Chinese man who moved to Tokyo. Ho-Am was very much impressed by the tailer's way of life, as much as by his excellent skills.
Ho-Am was a man who had the great taste to recognize his skills. Ho-Am had a keen sense in appreciating the beauty of art. Mostly, he was a person who appreciated and treasured the beauty of Korean traditional music. He would have a drink with two or three close friends, as often as twice or three times a week. It was not because he enjoyed drinking so much, but because he wanted to enjoy listening to Korean traditional music with his friends. If one of his friends got bored with the music and interfered, he would calmly stop him by saying, "Just listen to music." He especially enjoyed several paragraphs from "Hongboga," that is sung together in chorus with Gayageum. I can still remember him clearly, how completely lost he was in the music with his eyes closed. And at time, he would exclaim out aloud, "This is incredible!"
He was one of the rare person who really loved and enjoyed the deep meaning of Korean traditional music. His knowledge in traditional tune was in no way inferior to mine, though I am a great fan of the tune myself.
When Korean traditional music was being neglected, Ho-Am secretly supported traditional musicians publicly and privately. He was always willing to encourage them. Nearly every Korean traditional musician got benefits from Ho-Am, and by this, he had effected the history of Korean traditional music a great deal. I believe that all of his appreciation for beauty and art is what formed his air of beauty. I am quite sure that in order to have this unique air surrounding him, he must have went through a long period of self-training Ho-Am and I both believed that each individual must have one's own unique air. Unless one success in doing this, that person can never be valued as a true leader. The air Ho-Am held was enough to fill all the spaces of the world, and at the same time, he was a man to distinguish other's quality. I believe this is how Samsung co. is filled with so many able workers.
I am glad I can still recall his air of beauty, and the memory of our friendship still waters my eyes.