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Former STX Chairman Kang Deok-su released from prison

Posted October. 16, 2015 09:07,   

한국어

Former STX Group Chairman Kang Deok-soo was a man who achieved a legendary success as an ordinary office worker. In 1973, Kang began to work for Ssangyong Group as a rank-and-file employee. When the company went under in 2000, he bought the company at his personal expense and launched his own company named STX in the following year. "Kang’s STX" had grown fast enough to join the top 10 Korean conglomerates after acquiring ailing businesses one after another to normalize their management.

As the global economy suffered a heavy downturn in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008, however, Kang’s aggressive management faced head wind. Starting with shipping, the financial conditions of his heavy-industry affiliates worsened dramatically. Kang donated his personal property in a bid to resuscitate his company, but it wasn’t enough. In 2013, he had to resign from management and was reduced to a failed businessman. To make matters worse, he was detained by the prosecution in April last year in charges of window dressing, misappropriation, and embezzlement, to be sentenced to six years in prison at the first trial. It was the darkest time of his life.

On Wednesday, the Seoul High Court largely commuted his punishment to three years in prison term and four years of probation period. The court ruled that Kang was not guilty on the charge of committing account fraud worth 2 trillion won and that he was more than 80 percent innocent for the alleged misappropriation. The fact that the former chairman made an effort to normalize the management of STX, and that a petition for leniency has been submitted by the members of labor union, building cleaners, and janitors, served as mitigating circumstances. In a year and a half since the imprisoned, Kang Deok-soo disrobed his prison uniform and returned to society.

After the release, the former chairman implicitly expressed his will to come back to management, but it would not be easy. Most of the shares he used to own are gone, and his personal finance is reported to be far from opulent. That he was convicted at the first and second trials may also pose a setback. Despite the fall, however, he has been proven to be a great leader with generous charisma was attested to during the trials by those who worked closely with and stood by the former chairman, which is undoubtedly his forte. Now, it will be noteworthy to watch whether Kang will be able to make a comeback and reprise his miraculous success that he achieved from the bottom rung.



shkwon@donga.com