10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lee Hae-jin

Lee Hae-jin, the tech giant of South Korea who successfully built the internet empire Naver Corporation, is a name synonymous with innovation and economic success in the digital industry. Despite his high-profile status, there’s much more to Lee Hae-jin than just the facts you find on a brief internet search. This article will bring to light ten fascinating facts about the man who “changed the way Koreans use the internet”.

1. Humble Beginnings

Lee did not start his professional journey in the plush offices of a high-profile tech company. Instead, he was a regular employee at Samsung SDS, the IT and consulting arm of the Samsung Group. Hired as a system engineer in 1990, he was responsible for creating databases and designing interfaces. It was indeed this job that launched his journey in the world of technology.

His tenure in Samsung was a crucial phase in his career, as the years spent with this conglomerate gave him the necessary experience and knowledge about the business world that proved beneficial when he went on to establish his own venture in the years to come.

2. Where Time Stands Still

Lee Hae-jin is extremely specific about his work hours. At Naver, there is no time clock system, in sharp contrast to many other Korean companies. This dramatic break from tradition came about from Lee’s belief in continuous learning and innovation, not hours spent on the job.

By doing away with the omnipresent time-clocks, he revolutionized the corporate work culture at Naver. It goes to show that his beliefs aren’t theoretical, but practical, having a direct effect on his employees’ work life.

3. Pioneer of South Korean Web Industry

Lee is known as a pioneer in the South Korean web industry. He is the visionary mind behind creating the first South Korean search engine, marking a noteworthy milestone in the global internet industry. It is an achievement that conveys his deep-rooted understanding and dedication to the world of technology and the internet.

Moreover, he spearheaded Naver to venture into big data research, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning domains, a move distinguishing him as a trailblazer who fearlessly adapted his business to the tides of change.

4. Private Life

In spite of being one of the most influential figures in the tech industry, Lee is essentially a private person. There isn’t much information available in the public domain about his personal life. He keeps a low profile, allowing his work and Naver’s continual growth to speak for him.

Despite his background and success, he is said to maintain a relatively simple lifestyle, deliberately focusing on his work and family. His ability to balance his high-pressure career without letting it interfere with his personal life is truly commendable.

5. Military and Global Aspirations

Lee Hae-jin took a break from his position as Chairman for Naver to pursue a business venture in Europe. This was only after completing mandatory military service in South Korea. Unlike many of his peers, he never sought exemption from military service, despite his notable position.

His global aspirations can be seen through his various ventures across Europe and the broadening of his businesses across various international markets. Despite his success in Korea, he never allowed himself to be confined to his home country.

6. Philanthropy

Coupled with his entrepreneurial endeavors, Lee Hae-jin is also a dedicated philanthropist. He regularly donates a significant amount of his earnings towards charity, specifically in the field of arts and culture. He is a strong advocate of cultural enrichment and ensures that he plays his part in contributing towards it.

Though he prefers to keep his philanthropic activities away from the media, his significant contributions to various arts and research programs have earned him a reputation as a generous benefactor and an ardent philanthropist.

7. Financial Success

Although Lee Hae-jin never sought direct profits from his creation, his efforts have yielded considerable financial reward. As of 2021, his net worth is an approximation of $1.4 billion. His path-breaking ability to innovate and create new ventures has not only catapulted his worth but also benefited his employees.

Interestingly, his wealth doesn’t primarily come from his holdings within Naver but from investments in various other ventures. Despite his wealth, he remains grounded and committed to innovation, showing that success is not merely a product of financial gain.

8. Not a Fan of the Limelight

Despite his great success and towering presence in the Korean tech world, Lee is not a fan of the limelight. This could be attributed to his modest upbringing and his focus on business rather than fame. He rarely appears in public and when he does, it is generally for business meetings or philanthropic events related to Naver.

Media houses and newspapers often find it hard to organize interviews with him due to his preferential privacy, making him one of the most enigmatic figures in the South Korean business cosmos.

9. Maintaining Stability During Crisis

During the 2009 global financial crisis, a majority of companies reeled under recession, with many laying off employees. However, under Lee’s leadership, Naver only grew stronger. He led the company to diversify and innovate, ensuring an upward curve in loyalty, respect, and revenue.

This showcase of leadership strength and strategic management during a global crisis is one testament to his outstanding prowess as a business leader and an entrepreneur.

10. Commitment to Innovation

What makes Lee stand out in the world of business is his commitment to innovation. He initiated the Naver Webtoon, a service that offered cultural content and was not directly related to the company’s profit model. Lee has constantly been in the pursuit of innovative business models that would give more value to users.

His investment in AI, his dedication to providing a platform for cultural content, and his work in providing a search engine for South Korea all stand testimony to his innovative approach to business.

The journey of Lee Hae-jin is a captivating story of determination, risk-taking, innovation, and success. The facts shared above reflect the ethos of an individual who has created a technological empire from scratch, navigating through economic crises, and continuously striving for progress and innovation.

For more information about Naver Corporation and Lee Hae-jin, you can check NAVER. To know more about his life, career, and contributions, visit his profile at Bloomberg Profile.