One of CBNU’s proud alumni, Lee Yong-jae, operates Dasan Electron, which exports telecommunications equipment to over 40 countries. Furthermore, as the president of the CBNU Alumni Association of Seoul, he has made an effort to unite CBNU alumni together and always take care to make a better CBNU. Now, he tells you about his story as a national trader as well as an alumnus.
Not only you but all your brothers and sisters graduated from CBNU. Moreover, your late father, Professor Emeritus Lee Kang-o, was in office at that time as well. Regarding this, can you tell me about your campus life?
When I was a senior in the Department of International Trade and Commerce, my elder two brothers studied in the College of Humanities and the College of Engineering. At the same time, my two sisters were in the College of Education and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. When we are together nowadays, it looks like an alumni reunion. More interestingly, my wife and her siblings all graduated from CBNU. Several years ago, becoming the new president of the alumni association of Seoul, this unusual connection between CBNU and me affected me a lot.
Can you tell the detailed story of when you first started a business?
When I worked at an export company, I was in charge of communication equipment and started my current business by chance. At first, meeting with my new American buyers, I proudly displaced my amplifiers, but they did not work at all and the meeting definitely failed. Back in Korea, I tried them again but it worked very well! It was so awkward. It was about compatibility, but at that time, I did not know, and it took three years to learn it exactly. After that, I always rechecked developed products to upgrade even though I was not an engineer. On weekends, I have experimented with my wife regarding new headsets and did not have holidays for experimenting by myself. Now, I have considerable knowledge and experience like a professional engineer, so some buyers talk to me directly when they have technical problems.
Recently, have you have had any problem with your business?
Today, young generations are reluctant to apply for small enterprises. Even though the size is smaller than a major enterprise, they can learn more field experience and do various kinds of work in small enterprises. Of course, I understand the young generations’ worry. However, the reason that they avoid small enterprise should not be about the size of the enterprise. There are many small enterprises which are competitive and stable. I hope that more young people depart from the false stereotype.
You have contributed to CBNU in various ways. In particular, recently, you donated half a billion won. How did you make that hard decision?
My father was a faculty member, so I was supported by CBNU. Some people may think that I am very rich. However, this donation is what I received from CBNU and learning from my father. My late father was so frugal that he refused any benefits from the government and always went to work with an old bike and a backpack. At that time, I did not receive financial support from my parents, so I really dissatisfied about it. However, I think it was a great education for me. Imagine what you can do when you have one billion won. It looks easy, but in reality it is difficult. Regardless of amount, I hope that my contribution returns to students in succession to my late father’s teaching and leads other alumni’s attention for CBNU.
As an alumnus, do you realize the growth of CBNU?
In comparison with the past, CBNU has grown in a quantitative respect and recent various university evaluations prove it. Now, qualitative improvement needs to be done. I think ”maturity moving beyond growth” is the great purpose of CBNU and hope for it to be more mature. Since becoming the president of the CBNU Alumni Association of Seoul, a surprising fact I’ve learned is that considerable numbers of CBNU alumni play active parts in many fields like law, journalism, and finance. CBNU is one of the few universities which has every college. Feel pride in your CBNU and go for your dream!
These days many young students are interested in start-ups. Can you advise students who want to start a business?
It is good news that young people are interested in starting a business. However, I have heard many hackneyed business items. Do not start without careful consideration. I hope that they set a purpose on professional technology or capacity, not on just money. If the final goal is money, you would be passive or be enslaved to money. Furthermore, I want you to learn lavish investment and abandonment. When I worked at a company, my supervisor encouraged me to invest in diverse fields. Even though the result was not that good, he did not reprimand but rather taught me how to give up regardless of investment amount. This lesson is my important ironclad rule even now. Take a warning from your failure. At the same time, it is necessary to prepare a backup plan for your failure.
Did you feel his affection for you and CBNU? As a proud alumnus and trader, he always cares for making a better CBNU. At the same time, he says diligence is fundamental to success and it will help you realize your dream. Thanks to successful and active alumni like him, CBNU has developed a lot. Without a doubt, the next proud alumni are you!
Son Woo-kyung, Editor