February 12, 1910|
Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do, Korean Empire
|Died||November 19, 1987
Seoul, South Korea
|Alma mater||Waseda University in Tokyo|
|Occupation||Founder of Samsung Group|
|Revised Romanization||I Byeongcheol|
Lee Byung-chul (February 12, 1910 Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do – November 19, 1987 Seoul) was the founder of the Samsung Group and one of South Korea's most successful businessmen. With the breakup of the Hyundai chaebol, Samsung is now South Korea's largest business group.
Byung-chul established a trucking business in Daegu on March 1, 1938, which he named Samsung Trading Co, the forerunner to Samsung. Samsung means "Three Stars" which explains the initial corporate logos.
By 1945 Samsung was transporting goods throughout Korea and to other countries. The company was based in Seoul by 1947. It was one of the ten largest "trading companies" when the Korean War started in 1950. With the conquest of Seoul by the North Korean army, Lee was forced to relocate his business to Pusan. The massive influx of U.S. troops and equipment into Busan over the next year and a half of the war proved to be highly beneficial to Lee's trucking company.
In 1961 when General Park seized power, Lee was in Japan and for some time he did not return to South Korea. Eventually a deal was struck and Lee returned but Samsung had to give up control over the banks it acquired and follow economic directives from Park's government.
Later in life, Byung-chul served as chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries and was known as the richest man in Korea.
After his death, Byung-chul's estate (Ho-Am) was opened to the public for tours. His collection of Korean art is considered one of the largest private collections in the country and it features a number of art objects that have been designated "National Treasures" by the Korean government. Ho-Am is located a short distance from the Everland park, South Korea's most popular amusement park (Everland is also owned by the Samsung Group).
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||Chairman of the Board of the Samsung Group
March 1938 – December 1987