Dongwon Group Chairman Kim Jae-chul, 84, said he will step down as chairman to mark the 50th anniversary of the group's foundation.
"The year 1969 when Dongwon was founded was the first year of spaceman Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon," Kim said at a ceremony held on April 16. "After working hard, Dongwon today has the sixth industry covering all of the first, two and three industries."
Kim, who was the only apprentice navigator of the country's first oceanic fishing vessel, the "Jinnamho," became the nation's youngest ship captain in three years. He launched Dongwon Industries in 1969 with three employees and one ocean-going fishing boat at a small office in Seoul.
Dongwon Industries has since grown into the country's largest fisheries company after exploring new fishing grounds, introducing advanced fishing methods and overcoming the oil shock crisis.
Dongwon Industries later accelerated its growth as the country's first canned tuna, "Dongwon tuna," released in 1982, enjoyed great popularity. Since its release, more than 6.2 billion cans of Dongwon tuna were sold, a volume that can travel 12 and a half laps around the globe.
Dongwon Group also entered the securities business by acquiring Hanshin Securities in 1982. In 2000, the company established Dongwon F&B, which is a comprehensive food company, and expanded its reach to dairy products, health function foods, and online distribution.
By acquiring Dongbu Express in 2016, the company expanded its logistics business, and it generated 7.2 trillion won in annual sales last year based on four major pillars of fisheries, food, packaging and logistics.
Chairman Kim has provided scholarships to students in his hometown since his days as the captain of the ocean-going fishing boat, and founded the scholarship foundation "Dongwon Educational Foundation" by investing 10 percent of his shares in 1979, the 10th year since its foundation.
For 40 years, the foundation has been striving to nurture the nation's talent through scholarships, research funds and education development funds worth nearly 42 billion won.
"Dongwon's founding spirit was the realization of social justice through sincere business activities and its vision is a social need company that creates new values," Kim said. "We should always remember that going to the right direction is the path of the winner. I will continue doing for society."