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Country’s top executives credit their success to doggedness

Jan 01,2018
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On the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the year of the golden dog, and top executives of major Korean companies born in the year of the dog are getting a lot of attention.

Those born in the year of the dog are said to be hardworking and have a strong sense of responsibility while maintaining good relationships, important traits of CEOs.

Among top Korean executives born in the year of the dog, the 1958 generation is exceptionally noticeable. They were the first to attend school without a tracking system.

Previous generations of students were assigned to high schools based on exam scores, but children born in 1958 onward were randomly assigned to public schools.

The year 1958 was also a baby boomer year, as 900,000 children were born that year. As a result, CEOs that were born in 1958 rose to the ranks through intense competition.

One such executive is Kim Ki-nam, the president of Samsung Electronics’ device solutions division who helped the tech giant become the world’s top semiconductor manufacturer.

There is also Yoon Gap-han, a president at Hyundai Motor who has worked on the company’s production line for more than 30 years; Park Sung-wook, the SK Hynix senior vice chairman who helped the semiconductor company achieve record profit this year; Song Dae-hyun, president of LG Electronics’ home appliances and air solutions division; and Doosan Infracore CEO Soon Dong-yeon, known for his tech background.

The Korean business community is particularly interested in Kim of Samsung Electronics and Park of SK Hynix because they will be responsible for continuing Korea’s top performance in semiconductors this year.

And at Hyundai Motor, Yoon will face many challenges as the Korean automaker seeks to improve sales in China and the United States while developing its future businesses, including self-driving cars.

In the financial industry, executives born in the year of the dog include Shinhan Bank CEO Wi Sung-ho, Shinhan Investment CEO Kim Hyung-jin, DB Financial Investment CEO Koh Won-jong and Lotte Card CEO Kim Chang-kwon.

But among top financial CEOs, the one best known for his resilience is Mirae Asset Group Chairman Park Hyeon-joo, who started out at the bottom rung of the brokerage industry and now leads one of Korea’s top financial investment groups with Goldman Sachs-level ambitions.

Other self-made CEOs born in the year of the dog include Yang Hyun-suk, head of YG Entertainment, who was born in 1970, and Moon Kyung-ahn, chairman of golf ball manufacturer Volvik, born in 1958.

At the leading conglomerates, top executives born in the year of the dog include Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group and grandson of the company’s founder; and Lee Boo-jin, chief executive of Hotel Shilla and daughter of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee. Both were born in 1970.

Chung is the richest among CEOs born in 1970 as he has 2.3 trillion won ($2.1 billion) worth of stock listed in the market and Lee trails behind with roughly 2 trillion won. This year is expected to be a challenging year for both their businesses as they have been affected by diplomatic tension between Korea and China over the installation of a U.S. missile shield.

The oldest CEO in the country born in the year of the dog is Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho, who was born in 1922, and the youngest is Chung Ki-seon, vice president at Hyundai Heavy Industries, born in 1982.


BY SOHN HAE-YONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]