Women have the final say now: Mrs. Lee Ki Nam, Female entrepreneur in Korea

The word entrepreneur commonly associates a goal-driven male leader. However, the perception of such a notion is rapidly changing as more successful women enter the arena and have final say in the boardroom.

Studies between female and male entrepreneurs suggest that women with powerful, decisive, multitask-oriented personalities are a good fit for the competitive world of business. With their modern leadership style, they head corporations and dominate certain well-known companies alongside male underdogs.

Likewise, Korea has plenty of examples on such female entrepreneurs, but this particular article is focused on one particular female entrepreneur who should be acknowledged for her contribution to the country.

Mrs. Lee Ki Nam, a female entrepreneur and chair-woman of the Hunminjeongeum Society, is gaining global publicity through her unique export: the Korean alphabet. The Hunminjeongeum Society, also known as the Hunminjeongeum Research Institute, was founded in 2007 and is an organization that exports the “Korean” language to countries where phonetic language is nonexistent. One case of successful exports was to Indonesia’s Cia-Cia tribe, which gained global recognition and publicity on the cover of the NYT and WSJ. In interviews when asked the reasoning behind her actions, she stated that her main objective was to express the will of her ancestor King Sejong, who created Hangeul. Interestingly enough, she is a direct descendant of King Sejong. Funding her business through the fortune she raked in from her involvement in real estate and construction businesses when she was younger, Mrs. Lee decided to expose the importance of language to a particular society, in which written systems were inadequate to record their languages.

Some accounts of Mrs. Lee’s work highlights her noteworthy background in terms of entrepreneurship. Even in her late 70s, she is still very active in the entrepreneur world, be it for profit or non-profit. Her career began as a junior high school teacher and later devoted herself to family business in the real estate industry, allowing her fortune to build and fund her businesses. One of her earlier ventures was to initiate the Korean font for Macintosh PC in the 1980s, which many are unaware of. Another interesting fact is that she also instigated the Korean-Israel Chamber of Commerce in the early 90s before Korea-Israel ties were officially recovered from their foreign diplomatic ties. Mrs. Lee is also heavily active in philanthropic work involving arts and culture through the Wonam Culture And Arts Foundation. Currently, she is working on a prospective business to satiate the growing demand in the G2 community; factors such as fierce competition, age and gender will not stop her from doing what she loves.

With extraordinary experiences in entrepreneurship, Mrs. Lee is definitely an excellent role model for upcoming entrepreneurs. This includes both male and female, as both are striving for the same goal in terms of moving up the ranks. Furthermore, Mrs. Lee’s positive energy, focus, determination and thinking outside the box, has made her dreams into reality. Her noble ambition shall continue to be observed and appreciated.

In summary, prospective entrepreneurs should not only be profit driven but also should organize their ventures that could lead to creating shared value, wherein those in need of support should be given a lending hand.

(This article was developed with H.G. Byun, a publicist at KingsBay Capital.)


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