Friday, January 05, 2007

LG Celebrates its Past

As a historian and student of entrepreneurialism, I enjoy reading about the origins of companies. LG, Hyundai-Kia, and Samsung all have different roots. LG is celebrating its 60th anniversary, so there is lots of media on the Group's past. I'd like to share LG's past.

Chosun Ilbo notes some milestones:
The first product Lucky Chemical Industrial produced in 1947 was Lucky Cream. It came in a brown container bearing the image of the Hollywood starlet Deanna Durbin and boasted such a sophisticated design that many people mistakenly thought it was imported from Shanghai. [ The word Lucky came from one of the most popular American brand seen in post WWII Korea, Lucky Strikes cigarettes.] [ I not sure why LG picked Deanna Durbin--she was a popular young singer-actor of the 30s, with some international exposure. She left the film industry in 1950.]

In 1951, the company entered the plastics business to make cosmetics containers and succeeded in developing less brittle kind of lid for them. The company ushered in the plastic age in Korea, introducing plastic combs, soap cases, toothbrushes and tableware. In 1954, it made Koreas first toothpaste brand, Lucky Toothpaste, and three years later, in 1957, it beat the U.S. brand Colgate to top the market here.

Gold Star, the predecessor of LG Electronics, was founded in October 1958 and also became a pioneering firm. In November 1959, the company manufactured the first made-in-Korea radio, marking a turning point in Korea's electronics industry. Since then, the company also made the first fan, automatic telephone, refrigerator and washing machine. When first introduced, the company's black and white TV was so sought after that people formed long queues to buy it.

[For many Americans, low cost Gold Star TV showed up in discount stores, drug stores, and even supermarkets in the late 60s. I remember them being sold in Acme Market in my hometown.]

In 1966, it introduced HiTi which later became a leading detergent brand. Its innovative spirit led to interesting developments. HiTi put an end to the need for Korean homemakers to beat clothes with washing paddles. The washing machine further lightened the load.


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