Dongwon Group Chairman Kim Jae-cheol to retire, pass control to his son Kim Nam-jeong

Published on
April 16, 2019

Dongwon Group Chairman Kim Jae-cheol announced his retirement at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the company he grew from a small-time fishing operation into one of the biggest seafood companies in the world.

His son, Kim Nam-jeong, who has been serving as the vice president of the Seoul, South Korea-headquartered Dongwon Group, will take over as chairman, with his father serving as an interim advisor through the transition, according to the Korea Herald.

Kim Jae-chul began tuna fishing in 1958 and became the captain of a tuna-fishing vessel in the South Pacific Ocean in 1963. He established Dongwon Industries in 1969 and grew the company rapidly after launching the first canned tuna in South Korea. In 1989, Dongwon Industries was listed on the Korean Stock Exchange and the Dongwon Group, a conglomerate consisting of the company’s fisheries, food, packaging, and logistics companies, was officially launched in 1996. Dongwon Group purchased StarKist in 2008, in the mist of the global financial crisis, for USD 336 million (EUR 298 million using April 2019 currency valuation). Dongwon Group now has total annual sales of around KRW 7 trillion (USD 6.15 billion, EUR 5.45 billion), according to MBN News.

“(The group’s) affiliates will continue to operate under an independent management system and the holding company Dongwon Enterprise takes charge of overall business strategies,” a Dongwon official told the Korea Herald.

In preparation for the succession of the chairmanship, the elder Kim has transferred the majority of his holding in the company to his son, who now controls around 70 percent of Dongwon Group, according to Forbes, which recently ranked the younger Kim as one of South Korea’s richest people, with a net worth of USD 1.1 billion (EUR 975 million).

In an interview with MBN News, Kim said he believes advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and robots will lead to unprecedented changes in global commerce, and that while the company has taken steps to stay ahead of the technological curve, such as introducing robotic process automation, the 84-year-old Kim said he had decided to pass the reins to his son because the company needed a "change of ideas." 

“Society is changing in the direction of demanding speed,” he said. “The future of Dongwon Group is the time for younger people to take responsibility.”

Photo courtesy of Dongwon Group

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500