Lee Ji-song, known as a ‘manager of perseverance’ and the first President of Korea’s Land Housing Corporation, returns to his major area after three years of absence.
The former President of Hyundai Construction and President of Kyungbok College, Lee Jisong became the first President of Korea’s Land Housing Corporation(KLHC) returning to his major subject. Faced with the question of how successfully KLHC integrated and launched after a long-term discussion between large public corporations, will be steered, his sense of responsibility must be grave. However, many people believe he is the right person for the job because of his expertise, experience, and strong propulsive force in his work.
Lee was born in Boryung, Chungchung-nam-do and studied at Daejeon Middle School, Kyungdong High School, and the Department of Civil Engineering, Hanyang University. In 2003, he received a Ph.D. degree in Engineering from Hanyang University. As a second lieutenant in 1963, he specialized in engineering. Later he was a public official at the Ministry of Construction (currently, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs) and the Korea Water Resources Corporation. In 1976, he was a head of a worksite for Hyundai Construction, President of Kyungin Canal, President of Hyundai Construction, and President of Kyungbok College.
He presented three goals when inaugurated as President of Hyundai Construction in March 2003 and realized all of them. The tasks he presented at that time were the normalization of the management of Hyundai Construction, recovery of outstanding from Iraq, and the development of Seonsan, Chunchungnam-do, which were all critical due to the Asian Financial Crisis. At the time, his declaration gave him the reputation of being ‘a reckless man’.
However, he realized all these tasks successfully. Based on winning orders in various construction projects including a nuclear power plant, annual performance topped 2 trillion won for two consecutive years. In 2003, three years after winning the order, the company achieved a record operating profit of 436.2 billion won and the balance from orders was higher than 25 trillion won, contributing to the company’s sustainable development.
At the end of 2005, he turned Seonsan, a 20-year-long unfinished project, into a business city. The land is now worth its weight in gold. While everyone was skeptical, he recovered 684 million dollars amounting to the principal sum of money from Iraq.
His appointment as the first President of KLHC is based on these expertise and abilities. However, there is a pile of problems to solve. Integration between the Land Corporation and Housing Corporation has taken 16 years to achieve. The challenge now is how to quickly stabilize the organization and produce synergistic effects.
Its assets after integration reached 105 trillion won as of the end of 2008, the third largest after Samsung Group (175 trillion won) and Korea Electric Power Cooperation (117 trillion won). How to increase efficiency in this giant company is an important task. Total debts as of the end of 2008 were 85 trillion won and if the current situation continues, it is expected to be 100 trillion won by 2011. The number of employees is more than 7,300. Financial health, reestablishment of roles, and layoffs based on functional reorganization are other key issues for Lee.
On September 8, 2009, he held a press conference along with Kwon Doyeop, the first vice Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, and revealed his plan about the integration of the Land Housing Corporation. According to the plan, middle and large sized housing distribution, private-public competition PF projects, and housing rental will be discontinued while the Bogeumjari housing district, the land bank for housing construction, and green new deals will be strengthened. Furthermore, the number of current workforce will be reduced by 24% by 2012 and disposal of assets will be carried out by a special organization directly reporting to the President for financial improvement.
His management skills are being tested with these tasks again. Experts say that Lee’s past path in management is sufficient to guarantee the much earlier stabilization of KLHC. In the end, his ultimate mission will be to make the company reliable through the sound supply of cheap housing and land to the public.