Grateful, Humble, pioneering, challenging spirit
Haiam Lee Jong Deok

Haiam Lee Jong Deok

  • Frugal and diligent life

    Leading a frugal life

    Haiam was a living symbol of frugality, sustaining the entire season with a mere one suit and considering jjajangmyeon (inexpensive black bean noodles) as the best lunch. Even when he was on a business trip, he insisted on using economy class, saying, "Do you go faster if you take first class seats?" He also saved even small pieces of paper. Some jokingly say that all the factories of SeAH were designed on the back of old calendars. After he retired from management, he used to use subways instead of using cars, saying, “I don't deserve to take my car because I don't even work enough for the price of oil".

  • Credibility over money

    Building up credibility with honest, conscientious business dealings

    Haiam was an energetic, healthy person and he found value in life from working extremely hard. Particularly, his convictions got stronger after he learned the honesty of land from his farming experiences during his childhood. Even when the price of iron and steel materials was unstable due to insufficient supplies and currency fluctuations, Haiam did not seek to make easy money or to accumulate wealth by taking advantage of the situations. He valued honest business dealings and built up credibility, rather than money.

  • Humans are the greatest asset

    Workers are family members

    Haiam spent most of his time working onsite and thought about workers first at the production sites. With the initial public offering of the company in 1969, Haiam introduced the Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which was rare at that time, as part of the welfare policy; this reflects his thinking. It was practicing his conviction that if a company makes profits, the profits must be returned to workers as well. Haiam drew on this conviction from his experience as a tenant farmer that, even if the amount of crops increased, there was no benefit to the tenant farmers.

  • Human connections based on mutual trust

    Valuing human connections

    Haiam's belief of valuing trust in human relations was also expressed in the relationship with his customer companies. One good example is that he still maintains a business relationship with Japan's Kawasaki Steel (current: JFE), which was a company for importing materials since the founding of his company, for over half a century. Haiam left a valuable lesson of trust, “Once I believe, I entrust everything. Once I have a human connection, I do not desert easily".

  • Benevolent individual

    Giving words of encouragement for employees who work hard without saying much

    Haiam encouraged employees who worked hard under poor working environments and gave them the conviction, "You can do it”, to help them overcome difficulties one by one. He said, “People who work at factories cannot sustain hard work if eating only noodles”, so he asked the company cafeteria to cook rice for workers, demonstrating his generosity. Early in the mornings, he rode his bicycle and toured each corner of the factory, encouraging his workers.

  • Payback to society

    People are hope and competitiveness

    Haiam practiced coexistence and co-prosperity. He returned company profits to society and the community. To make his philosophy concrete, he established the SeAH Haiam Scholarship Foundation in 1992 with his own money. Since its launching, the foundation has been practicing its conviction, “People are hope” each year. He wanted to pay back to the society that provided a place for his business by fostering creative human resources needed by the nation, and by assisting young talents so that they can concentrate on studying without experiencing financial difficulties.