[FORBES] How S. Korea’s AmorePacific became one of the world’s most innovative companies

August 19, 2015
AmorePacific’s green tea garden in Jeju Island. (Facebook/AmorePacific)

AmorePacific’s green tea garden in Jeju Island. (Facebook/AmorePacific)


It all started from a kitchen eight decades ago. Yun Sok-Jeong, an ambitious mother of six, began producing camellia oil and creams as a hair treatment for stylish Korean women. Sourcing the best camellias from peddlers who would travel the Korean peninsula delivering goods, Yun would spend hours extracting the flowers’ oil and set up her first shop in the village of Gaesong, a city that is now a part of North Korea.

At a young age her second son Suh Sung-Whan learned the tricks of the trade, biking a round trip of 88 miles to collect bottles and labels and concocting the creams beside his mother. Suh would then go on to take over the business in 1945, a vulnerable time in Korea’s turbulent history: World War II had just ended and with the subsequent demise of Japan’s colonial rule, the Korean War would soon rear its ugly head.

Keeping his eye on the possibilities, Suh initially named the company “Taepyeongyang,” which in English translates to the Pacific Ocean, a name that came from Suh’s early ambitions to take the company beyond the Pacific and create a strong foothold overseas.