Samsung Group (Hangul: 삼성그룹; Hanja: 三星그룹; Korean pronunciation: [sam.sʌŋ ɡɯ'ɾup̚]) is a South Korean multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul. It comprises numerous subsidiaries and affiliated businesses, most of them united under the Samsung brand, and is the largest South Korean chaebol.
Samsung was founded by Lee Byung-chull in 1938 as a trading company. Over the next three decades the group diversified into areas including food processing, textiles, insurance, securities and retail. Samsung entered the electronics industry in the late 1960s and the construction and shipbuilding industries in the mid-1970s; these areas would drive its subsequent growth. Following Lee's death in 1987, Samsung was separated into four business groups – Samsung Group, Shinsegae Group, CJ Group and Hansol Group. Since the 1990s Samsung has increasingly globalised its activities, and electronics, particularly mobile phones and semiconductors, has become its most important source of income.
Notable Samsung industrial subsidiaries include Samsung Electronics (the world's largest information technology company measured by 2012 revenues), Samsung Heavy Industries (the world's second-largest shipbuilder measured by 2010 revenues), and Samsung Engineering and Samsung C&T (respectively the world's 15th- and 63nd-largest construction companies). Other notable subsidiaries include Samsung Life Insurance (the world's 14th-largest life insurance company), Samsung Everland (operator of Everland Resort, the oldest theme park in South Korea), Samsung Techwin (an aerospace, surveillance and defence company) and Cheil Worldwide (the world's 16th-largest advertising agency measured by 2011 revenues).
Samsung has a powerful influence on South Korea's economic development, politics, media and culture, and has been a major driving force behind the "Miracle on the Han River". Its affiliate companies produce around a fifth of South Korea's total exports. Samsung's revenue was equal to 17% of the South Korea's $1082 billion GDP.
According to the founder of Samsung Group, the meaning of the Korean hanja word Samsung (三星) is "tristar" or "three stars". The word "three" represents something "big, numerous and powerful"; the "stars" mean eternity.