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Samsung board gets more diverse

Addition of female academic and foreign businessman is rare
Feb 24,2018
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Samsung Electronics plans to name a Korean-American, a female academic and a computer engineering professor to its board of directors.

The decision was made at a board meeting in Suwon nearly three weeks after Samsung Electronics’ Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was released from custody after an appeals court halved his sentence to two and a half years and suspended it for four years. Lee did not attend the meeting.

Naming the Samsung heir to the board of directors in October 2016, Samsung came up with measures to “resuscitate shareholder value” including attracting independent board directors from global enterprises. Samsung increased the number of directors from nine - four internal and five independent - to 11 - five internal and six independent. By increasing the number of independent directors, the board hopes to step up Samsung’s global management and reflect the diverse demand from various stakeholders including those abroad.

The three new independent directors are: Jeong Kim, co-founder and executive chairman of Kiswe Mobile, a U.S. start-up focused on interactive mobile video; Kim Sun-uk, the former President of Ewha Womans University; and Park Byung-gook, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Seoul National University.

Jeong Kim, 58, who was born in Seoul and immigrated to the United States at the age of 14, founded Yurie Systems, a technology firm, and sold it to Lucent for $1 billion in 1998. He served as the president of Bell Labs for eight years from 2005 and was nominated in February 2013 to be Korea’s minister of future creation and science, but withdrew his candidacy.

Samsung Electronics hasn’t had a director with foreign nationality since 2009. Jeong Kim will be the fourth foreign director in the company’s history.

Kim Sun-uk, 66, was the first female minister of government legislation under the Roh Moo-hyun administration and served as president of Ewha Womans University for four years from 2010. Now professor at Ewha Law School, the public law expert is known to have contributed to collaborative projects between the academic sector and businesses during her term as president. She is the second female independent director at Samsung after Kim Eun-mee, former dean of Ewha Womans University’s Graduate School of International Studies whose term spanned between 2013 and 2015.

Park Byung-gook, 59, is a renowned academic in semiconductor research, having served as head of the Inter-university Semiconductor Research Center and the Institute of Electronics and Information Engineers.

The outgoing independent directors who are set to have their terms terminated next month are Kim Han-joong, former president of Yonsei University, and Lee Byeong-gi, honorary professor of electrical engineering at Seoul National University.

Among the internal board of directors, Kwon Oh-hyun, chairman of the board and CEO, Yoon Boo-keun, vice chairman and CEO, and Shin Jong-kyun, vice chairman and CEO, will be handing over their posts to Kim Ki-nam, president of device solutions, Koh Dong-jin, president of mobile business, and Kim Hyun-suk, president of the consumer electronics business.

Lee Sang-hoon, former chief financial officer, will be chairing the board.

The new board members will be confirmed at the regular shareholders’ meeting scheduled for March 23.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]