Over sixty years ago, the dream of Hanwha’s founders began to unfold. With a vision for better values for future generations and a daring spirit undeterred by challenges and changes, Hanwha continues to move forward.
The division of Korea following World War II and the devastating effects of the Korean War in the early 1950s left South Korea in economic ruin. Most of the country's infrastructure, including the majority of its power plants and other important installations, was left devastated, while many of its people were forced to live in poverty.
It was around this time that Chong-Hee Kim, a spirited young man and a chief manager at Joseon Gunpowder Joint Market, Inc., recognized that the gunpowder industry would be one of the driving forces behind Korea’s future industrialization. He became completely devoted to contributing to the rebuilding of the nation and the cultivation of society through his work.
As the war ended in 1952, Kim acquired Joseon Gunpowder Joint Market, Inc. and established Korea Explosives Company (Hangook Whayak). As the reconstruction of the nation’s infrastructure expanded, so did the need for explosives. Korea, however, did not possess the technology necessary to meet the growing demand and was forced to rely on foreign imports, particularly those from Japan. Due to this, supplies were limited and prices remained high.
Knowing that localizing the production of imported products was a matter of national interest, Kim and his colleagues at Korea Explosives dedicated their time and effort to research and development for three years, adding operations in Incheon and buying the power plant operated by Chosun Oil and Fat Company in 1955. During this time, Hanwha was successful in developing nitroglycerin, an ingredient used in the manufacturing of explosives. This development allowed Korea to become the second country in Asia to have the ability to domestically produce industrial explosives by 1958.
Chong-Hee Kim’s belief that the explosives business would eventually help the economic growth of the nation turned out to be accurate, and it was his dedication to “事業報國 (pronunciation:sah-up-bo-gook),” which means “contributing to the nation and society through business” that came to be Hanwha’s founding philosophy. The drive to contribute to society and to the development of the nation through its business remains at the core of Hanwha’s vision.