The elements that beautify the world are first imagined in someone’s dreams. For people of action, those simple and unimposing dreams form the seeds of great achievements. The idea emerged that cultivating trees would bring forth a great forest, just as cultivating people brings forth talent. The belief is that the forest will help shape a better future. For the last 40 years, SK has been committed to attaining the goal to ensure ‘the next 100 years will be greener and happier’. That bright and joyous story can now be shared, through a forest of abundance, a green forest of talented personnel. We have been moving forward with our ‘forest of talent' for the past 40 years and forward into the next 100.
The first Korea nGreen Awards was held at Seoul Press Center on December 26th 2006. The former SK Chair Choi Jong-Hyeon was the winner, and while he is no longer with us, we will nonetheless celebrate his noble spirit. He believed that the future of Korea would stem from the trees and forests, and likewise from talented people. His firm belief, remarked upon at the award ceremony at the award, is reflected in a vibrant forest of healthy trees, 'the forest of talent’.
Deungsan is a steep mountain reaching 667m high, and facing Lake Chungju, in Sancheok-myeon, Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do. It has three peaks, named Cheon (Heaven), Ji (Earth) and In (People).Cheon Deung is in the north, Ji Deung in the south, and In Deung sits between them. In Deung is covered with white birch, seeming to reach high into the sky. The peak embraces the noble spirit of SK, reflecting SK’s belief that its roots are grounded in its people.
Sancheok-myeon resident, 69 year old Yoon Su-Gyu , participated in the SK reforestation project on the foot of Mt Deung Mountain on land covering 496,000 m2, where the Hwarang, Korea’s Shilla era army, once practiced martial arts and maintained two military bases with two stables, large and small, and living quarters.
Deung Mountain was the cradle of the Hwarang, a symbol of talented Shilla people. Perhaps when SK Chair Choi came to this remote mountain village in Chungcheong-do in the early 1970s he knew of its historical background. Regardless, it is obvious in retrospect that SK, the cultivators of talent, would establish its reforestation project here.
The land on the Korean peninsula, including In Deung Mountain, was devastated by decades of occupation and war. In the 1970’s, the mountains became very deforested as Korea sought rapid industrial development. In 1972 Choi decided to plant trees on the bare mountain slopes, as part of a reforestation project, with no certainty as to when he might gain a return on the investment. During the Saemaeul Movement, people prioritized staving off starvation over all else, while companies were obsessed with immediate gain. All of the employees were against the forestry project, which had no clear way of creating profit. Nonetheless, Choi advocated the project offering a very simple reason. In 30 years, after the sky is no longer visible from the forest, he would harvest and sell lumber to generate seed money for scholarship funds.
At that time other companies were engaged in forestry, but Choi valued Korea and its people over making a profit. He planned to harvest lumber rather than importing it from abroad at tremendous cost. Today, SK is proud of his long term project, which showed just how farsighted he was.
He foresaw the future of his dreams in the forest, when others did not have that breadth of vision. Choi faced obstacles in making a living forest, however, and many people were suspicious and upset when he was scouting a site, but he put all opposition to rest by purchasing land in a remote mountain area.
Former SK Forestry president and In Deung Mountain reforestation project manager, Seong Baek-Jin: I once asked him to get land in the Seoul Area to generate a more profitable forest. Our former Chair said that a forest in Seoul would disappear in 20-30 years when the development boom arose. He overcame a lot of difficulty in this large, no profit investment, with reforestation plan modifications and poor working conditions.
SK Forestry employee from 1974 and reforestation project participant Yook Cheon-Su (63), referring to everyone working onsite: I did not recognize who the Chair was. He took his time and continued moving forward with his goal, taking on reforestation as a long-term mission. Now 40 years later, we see an enormous forest with 3 million trees over 4,000 ha.
Sancheok-myeon resident and SK reforestation project participant Ahn Gwang-Ho (61),: Choi took the initiative ahead of the government.
Sancheok-myeon resident and SK reforestation project participant Yoon Su-Gyu (69): We tilled the soil to plant seedlings..like this, and now they have grown a lot!
SK’s far-reaching plan for the development of people and social contributions finally came to fruition. For the past 40 years and next 100, the hope for Korea is eternally found in its forests. With people as our future, the forest allows us to appreciate SK’s care and attention to its people and the world around us. We can achieve SK’s dreams for the future in this forest full of happiness. SK is cultivating a forest of talent to create a better world and achieve a universal dream. 100 years from now, this forest of talent will lead the way to a green future. We cultivate trees like we cultivate talent, and nurture the future as we do the forest of talent.