"Welcome! Nice to meet you!"
A loud yet friendly greeting of welcome rang out from behind the face mask. Behind it, it was easy to make out a strong but gentle smile. TYM Chairman Kim Hiyong’s office is full of fascinating objects like a painted folding screen, a fencing sword, and various paintings and photographs. Over the interview, we came to understand that these objects embody Chairman Kim’s story and considerable experiences.
A young man who loved paintings and books
In his youth, Chairman Kim’s parents operated movie theaters and he became fascinated by the artists who hand-painted the movie posters. This experience sparked his life-long interest in painting and colors. Hiyong Kim fell in love with books as soon as he learned to read. From comic books to novels, he voraciously read anything he could find. In particular, history and biographies have always been a major interest. This was apparent during the interview, as he frequently referenced historical events and figures from various regions like China and Iran, hinting at the amount of historical knowledge he has accumulated since childhood.
A passion for painting and design
While his parents ran their company in Korea, the chairman left for the US to study business administration at his parents’ behest. Not long after he arrived, he rekindled his childhood passion and he stopped studying business administration to study design. Chairman Kim’s parents cut off his financial support, but he could not give up on his dream so easily. So Kim started working any part-time jobs he could find. As a young student who had to financially support himself, it was a tough time for him but nothing else mattered as long as he could finish his studies. In his words; “Just as I lived in books when I was young, I lived in design. Once I started something, I had to persevere.”
Becoming the head of Tong Yang Moolsan
After Kim had finished his studies, he stayed in the US and worked in the design industry for several years. Then one day, his parents called him to return to Korea and join the family company. That’s how he came to be in charge of Tong Yang Moolsan in the 1980s. The company was in crisis but Chairman Kim was able to turn things around and grow the company over a period of 15 years. His achievement makes one wonder; “What special quality does it take to transform a declining company to one that is globally expanding today?”
People are strength
When he joined Tong Yang Moolsan, all Kim Hiyong could see were deficits. Since there wasn’t an understanding of quantitative productivity within the company, he needed to set in place specific plans to increase productivity. For Kim, the starting point was human resource management. The first things he established as key strategies was to find the right people, to build a fair system for employees, and to discover employees’ potentials and give them opportunities. On these foundations, Tong Yang Moolsan grew to the TYM that we know today.
The need to have a dream and a vision
Chairman Kim states that he has lived his life based on the understanding that living in fulfillment everyday should be the most basic and ultimate purpose for human beings Even when it comes to seemingly inconsequential things like reading, drawing, or fencing, he gives it his all and sees them out till the end. There’s no doubt that the chairman’s attitude has had great influence on TYM employees over the years. “It's important to have dreams and goals. But if you don’t live everyday to the fullest, you're just living in a pipe dream,” he summarizes.
What it means to live for today
After all, he says, the most important attitude to have is to live in the 'here and now’ and that tomorrow is a new day where our actions of yesterday and today culminates. For the chairman, living a fulfilling day everyday means living a good life. He offers the analogy that “Just as one drop of water meets another and becomes a small puddle, then gathers and flows to become a mighty river, the perseverance of sincerely living every day is more important than anything else.” That's how dreams are realized.
For this generation’s young farmers
Chairman Kim is interested in giving young people more opportunities and possibilities. In particular, he has a soft spot for young farmers in Korea. He stresses that eating and living well, dreaming, and living for today is the best thing that the young people can do for themselves. Kim also emphasizes the importance of moving forward together with your community, not just alone.
TYM actively promotes virtuous cycles
Kim expresses his desire to remove the obstacles that young farmers face and help revive the stagnant agricultural sector, which he defines as the roots of Korean society. That's how the tractor donation program came into being. The program does not stop at donating tractors, but actively monitors recipients and offers further assistance. The chairman states that the goal of the program was never to simply help increase the farmers’ productivity but to better their quality of life. He says that he didn’t start the donation program with lofty aspirations but that the joy he feels by giving opportunities to those who need is a reward in and of itself. Now, the chairman is pleased to see that the crops produced using the donated tractors are being donated to good causes, and is advancing his vision of a virtuous community.
There is still a lot to do in 2022
Kim Hiyong is still dreaming of things to do in the future. He’s always thinking of new ideas to grow the Korean agricultural industry and better the lives of farmers. And in order to see out his plans, his resolution this year is to first take care of his health.
Although it has grown significantly in terms of business, TYM is motivated and has plenty of room to grow. This year, TYM is seeking to create a profitable model for a smooth corporate merger with the goal to create more jobs and develop efficient production systems. Chairman Kim sincerely longs for a world where farmers can thrive. His sincerity is obvious when he states that it is his calling to lead TYM to achieve his goals.