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In 1938, Lee Byung-chull (1910–1987) of a large landowning family in the Uiryeong county moved to nearby Daegu city and founded Samsung Sanghoe . Samsung started out as a small trading company with forty employees located in Su-dong (now Ingyo-dong). It dealt in dried-fish, locally-grown groceries and made noodles. The company prospered and Lee moved its head office to Seoul in 1947. When the Korean War broke out, he was forced to leave Seoul. He started a sugar refinery in Busan named Cheil Jedang. In 1954, Lee founded Cheil Mojik and built the plant in Chimsan-dong, Daegu. It was the largest woollen mill ever in the country.
Samsung diversified into many different areas. Lee sought to establish Samsung as leader in a wide range of industries. Samsung moved into lines of business such as insurance, securities and retail. President Park Chung Hee placed great importance on industrialization. He focused his economic development strategy on a handful of large domestic conglomerates, protecting them from competition and assisting them financially.
In 1947, Cho Hong-jai, the Hyosung group's founder, jointly invested in a new company called Samsung Mulsan Gongsa, or the Samsung Trading Corporation, with the Samsung's founder Lee Byung-chull. The trading firm grew to become the present-day Samsung C&T Corporation. After a few years, Cho and Lee separated due to differences in management style. Cho wanted a 30 equity share. Samsung Group was separated into Samsung Group and Hyosung Group, Hankook Tire and other businesses.
In the late 1960s, Samsung Group entered the electronics industry. It formed several electronics-related divisions, such as Samsung Electronics Devices, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung Corning and Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications, and made the facility in Suwon. Its first product was a black-and-white television set.