Samsung means “three stars” in Korean. Lee Byung-Chull founded Samsung in 1938. It started as a small trading company with forty employees, located in Seoul. The company did fairly well until the Communist invasion in 1950 which caused great damage to his inventories. He was force to leave and start over in Suwon in 1951. In just a year, the company’s assets had grown twenty-fold. In 1953, Lee created a sugar refinery—the South Korea’s first manufacturing facility after the Korean War.
“The company prospered under Lee’s philosophy of making Samsung the leader in each industry he entered” (Samsung Electronics). The company started moving into service businesses such as insurance, securities, and department store. In the early 1970s, Lee borrowed money from foreign companies to begin the mass communication industry by launching a radio and television station (Samsung Electronics).
South Korean President, Park Chung-Hee’s regime during the 1960s and 1970s helped Samsung Electronics and many other Korean firms. Park put great importance in increasing economic growth and development, and assisted large, profitable companies, protecting them from competition and aiding financially as well. His government banned several exterior companies selling consumer electronics in South Korea.
“To make up for a lack of technological expertise in South Korea, the South Korean government effectively required foreign telecommunications equipment manufacturers to hand over advanced semiconductor technology in return for access to the Korean market” (Samsung Electronics). This enormously helped Samsung to manufacture the first Korean dynamic random access memory chips. “Furthermore, although Samsung Electronics was free to invest in overseas companies, foreign investors were forbidden to buy into Samsung” (Samsung Electronics). Samsung quickly thrived in the domestic market.
Samsung Group later formed several electronics-related divisions, such as Samsung Electron Devices Co., Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., Samsung Corning Co., and Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications Co., and grouped them together under Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. in 1980s. Its first product was a black-and-white television set (Samsung Electronics).
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Samsung Electronics invested heavily in research and development, constructing the company as a leader in the global electronics industry. “By the 1980s Samsung was manufacturing, shipping, and selling a wide range of appliances and electronic products throughout the world” (Samsung Electronics). In 1982, it built a television assembly plant in Portugal; in 1984, it built a $25 million plant in New York; and in 1987, it built another $25 million facility in England (Samsung Electronics).
In 1993 Lee Kun-Hee, Lee Byung-Chull’s successor, sold off ten of Samsung Group's subsidiaries, downsized the company, and merged other operations to concentrate on three industries: electronics, engineering, and chemicals (Samsung Electronics).
Samsung became the largest producer of memory chips in the world in 1992. In 1995, it built its first liquid-crystal display screen, eventually equalizing its technology to Sony’s (Lee kun-hee).
Samsung has also tried hard to improve its international image. It has spent more than $6 billion since 1998 on marketing, sponsoring the last five Olympics and erecting a large video sign in Times Square in 2002 (Lee kun-hee). Samsung is very involved in the Asian Games, contributing Samsung Nations Cup Riding Competition, Samsung Running Festival, Samsung World Championship, and still many more around the globe (Samsung Electronics)