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Samsung’s guide dog school marks 30th anniversary

Sept. 19, 2023 - 15:12 By Jie Ye-eun
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (back row, second from left) attends the 30th anniversary event for the Samsung Guide Dog School in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. Next to him is his mother and former director of the Leeum Museum, Hong Ra-hee (back row, third from left). (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Group’s guide dog school, which began operations after the late Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s new management declaration in September 1993, celebrated its 30-year anniversary Tuesday.

Samsung held a ceremony commemorating the occasion at Samsung Guide Dog School in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, sharing gratitude for the late chairman’s insights, philosophy and passion for his dogs.

Lee Kun-hee established Korea’s first school for dogs, aimed at training them for work with the visually impaired, in search and rescue operations, and for therapy assistance. It remains the world’s only dog institute that is fully funded by a company, while most other centers are funded by private donations.

Taking inspiration from guide dog training methods in Europe and the US, the training center adopts 12 to 15 dogs per year. A total of 280 guide dogs have become the eyes and feet of the blind so far, with 76 dogs currently working.

“When we started training dogs for the first time, many people were not pleased. … To become a true welfare society, we need compassion and to be people who are considerate of those with disabilities and accept them without hesitation as fellow members of society,” the late chairman wrote in his unpublished essay.

Tuesday’s ceremony was attended by 200 people, including Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Hong Ra-hee, wife of the late Samsung chairman and former director of the Leeum Museum. It marked the first time that Lee and Hong participated in the guide dog event.

Regarding the guide dog school, Hong said, “It had been a business that (Lee Kun-hee was) very interested in and worked hard on during his lifetime,” and “I think he would have been very happy to see the 30th anniversary ceremony today.”

William Thornton, chair of the International Guide Dog Federation, was also present to celebrate the occasion, congratulating the company on the growth of Samsung Guide Dog School into a world-class institution.

Thornton also gave Samsung a plaque of appreciation at Tuesday's ceremony.

Lee Kun-hee had also received an achievement award from the global federation for his sincere efforts back in 2002. Adoption and retirement ceremonies for guide dogs also took place at the event.

Samsung is planning to extend its efforts for the visually impaired and guide dogs to continue their happy companionship by investing in improving facilities and training and education programs at the guide dog school.

"The late Chairman Lee Kun-hee's insight and beliefs, as well as everyone's love and dedication, made Samsung's guide dog business possible," said Park Tae-jin, general director of Samsung Guide Dog School. "We'll continue to do our best for these beautiful companionships."