The funeral ceremony for former Daewoo Group Chairman Kim Woo-choong, who passed away at the age of 83, was held at Ajou University Hospital in Suwon on Dec. 9.
Kim, who worked hard to foster young businessmen in Vietnam, returned home in August last year due to poor health and has been receiving hospital treatment.
Kim was born in Daegu in 1936 and graduated from Gyeonggi High School and Yonsei University in economics. Kim, who has worked for fabric exporter Hansung Industries since 1963, established Daewoo Corp. with 5 million won in capital in partnership with Daedo Textile.
Daewoo Corp. exported tricot fabrics and products to Singapore from the first year of its establishment, resulting in $580,000 in exports, and expanded its market to Indonesia, the United States and other countries. In 1969, it was the first Korean company to set up an overseas branch in Sydney, Australia.
In the 1970s, Daewoo Corp. grew rapidly through aggressive expansion management, including mergers and acquisitions, the establishment of affiliates and overseas branches.
Kim founded Daewoo Co. in 1973. Since then, he has expanded the business scope to include finance, electronics and heavy industries by acquiring textile companies such as National Clothing, Tong Yang Securities, the predecessor of Daewoo Securities, and Okpo Shipyard, the predecessor of Daewoo Heavy Industries.
Kim, who had extraordinary skills in overseas operations, entered the African market, including Ecuador, Sudan and Libya, during this time, paving the way for his overseas business.
In 1981, Kim, then 45 years old, took office as chairman of Daewoo Group and founded Daewoo Motor in 1983.
Daewoo Corp., which Kim started with 5 million won in capital, grew into the second-largest conglomerate with 41 affiliates in 1998, more than three decades later. In 1998, Daewoo Group's exports totaled $18.6 billion, accounting for 14 percent of South Korea's total exports of $132.3 billion at the time.
In the 1990s, Daewoo Group began its global management in earnest, including the acquisition and establishment of local plants overseas. Kim, who also left a famous book titled "The World is Broad and has a lot of work to do," acquired or established auto plants in Poland, Hungary, Romania and Uzbekistan in the wake of the fall of Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
In 1998, Daewoo had 589 overseas networks, including 396 local subsidiaries, with 152,000 employees working overseas. At that time, the deceased spent more than 280 days abroad during the year.
However, when the foreign exchange crisis broke out in November 1997, Daewoo Group began to collapse. In 1998, the joint venture between Daewoo Motor and GM, which was a key issue of Daewoo Group's restructuring at the time, was shaken, financial authorities imposed restrictions on the issuance of corporate bills and corporate bonds, putting the company in a sudden liquidity crisis.
Daewoo Group announced a restructuring plan that calls for reducing 41 affiliates to four industries and 10 companies by 1999, but it failed to overcome the crisis and disbanded in August 1999 when all affiliates were subject to workout.