ong Dae Lee was born in Kumrung, Kyung Buk, Korea, on May 28, 1933. He graduated from Kimchun High School in 1950 and attended Teachers College of Kyung Buk University, Teagu, Korea. In 1955, he received a bachelor of science degree in science and engineering from Kyung Buk University. Before joining YuHan Corporation in 1967, Mr. Lee held positions in several paper companies: Chung Ku Paper Manufacturing Company, 1954-1958; Korea Straw Pulp Manufacturing Company, 1959-1961; Poong Kuk Paper Manufacturing Company, 1961-1965; and Ehwa Paper Manufacturing Company, Ltd., 1965-1967.
After joining YuHan Corporation, Mr. Lee was a key person in the formation of the joint venture YuHan-Kimberly, Limited, which became effective in March 1970, and he was appointed head of the initial plant operations. On January 1, 1979, he became vice president and executive director, and in November 1980, president of the company.
Today, YuHan-Kimberly is the largest tissue and personal care company in Korea, with sales in excess of $400 million U.S. It is regarded as one of the best joint venture companies in Korea. Mr. Lee is credited with building the company from its initial start to its current 2,500 employees. The company holds the leading market share in all categories in which it competes, in many cases in excess of 50 percent total share.
Because of Mr. Lee’s drive and reputation, he was able to convince Kimberly-Clark management to place in Korea in 1982 the first nonwoven spunbonded machine outside the North American
Through the operation of the simple, yet effective paper machinery based on sound, leading tissue-making technology, and adaptions for third-world usage of cutting-edge spunbonded technology, Mr. Lee’s company has achieved remarkable production records for many products, including facial tissue, disposable diapers, and industrial wipers (paper cloth), while maintaining good corporate standing in the community. In short, what he was able to do was take old machines and remake them into efficient machines using cutting-edge technology to help rejuvenate Korean’s industrial base. YuHan-Kimberly is recognized as contributing to Korea’s growing economy and rising standard of living.
Mr. Lee’s resourcefulness and drive were responsible for the initial and subsequent success of the company. He personally designed and supervised the building of YuHan-Kimberly’s first paper-machine winder from material salvaged in the aftermath of the Korean War. Stories abound about building paper-machine rolls from 155mm gun barrels, with a sound basis in fact. He personally designed and supervised the building and marketing of smaller-scale and much lower-cost tissue machines, based on Kimberly-Clark crescent former and other technologies, which are for sale in third-world developing countries. Such machines are operating in El Salvador and Columbia. Key to this success was maintaining performance while simplifying and reducing machinery costs. Mr. Lee also designed and built lower-cost fine paper machines for companies in the Pacific Rim. Generally, Mr. Lee’s machines cost approximately one-third that of comparable machines for North America and Europe.
Mr. Lee was recognized by the Republic of Korea for contributing positively to the balance of payment through his entrepreneurship in achieving export sales of this machinery. He is a member of the Korean Paper Manufacturing Association and is presently chairman. In 1990, he received the Kimberly-Clark Corporation Entrepreneurial Achievement Award.
Mr. Lee retired in 1995. He had planned to retire earlier, but in response to a personal request from Mr. Darwin Smith, chief executive officer of Kimberly-Clark, he stayed on longer and retired in the year of Mr. Smith’s death. Mr. Lee and his wife, Kyung Aye Lee, have three grown children. They reside in Kwachon-si, Kyungki-do, South Korea.