Success at KMI  

For 11 and half years until I quit Semikor in Feb. 1970 since I had graduated from college in Sept. 1958, I moved from one company to others many times, from only one months at shortest to less than a year mostly at other jobs, except Gold Star and Semikor for three and half years each. As they were all temporary jobs, there is nothing much to describe here. This 11 and half years were my ¡°Growing Period¡± learning a lot here and there, especially ¡°What not to do¡± in Gold Star and ¡°What to do¡± in Semikor, establishing my management skill and philosophy for later days.

Compared to the above ¡°Growing Period¡±, it was ¡°Implementation Period¡± now on starting from KMI, implementing what I had learned, testing it, creating results and confirming whether it was the right management or not. The reason I said ¡°testing¡± was there was no Korean company managed by modern American way of management and, though it was implemented in American subsidiaries in Korea, the way of thinking and management philosophy of mine was not really a usual American way either but ¡°the D. I. Cho Way" which was quite different from usual American way too, which I was not sure whether it will work or not in Korea and, if it works, how much it would be successful. It was my challenge and wanted to test it and confirm the result..

The chance came on Christmas Eve of 1969 when Manny Choy, former Controller of Semikor who returned to U. S. after 2 years assignment of Fairchild Semikor only a few months ago, called me after 10:00 PM asking me to meet him now. I wondered why he was asking to meet at such a late evening but went to his hotel as it seems to be something urgent and there was no curfew on Christmas Eve fortunately.  

At the meeting, what I had learned was – He made a deal with a company called AMI to establish an MOS-LSI assembly plant in Korea and he wanted me to work for him as the Plant Manager with full responsibility of the plant operation. He offered much higher salary than what I was paid by Semikor at the time, though my interest was not the salary amount but the chance I could test my management skill and philosophy I had learned for more than 11 years.

However, though I worked in semiconductor company, I had never heard about MOS-LSI nor the company name of AMI. I asked what they are and was told AMI is the American Microsystems Inc. in Silicon Valley which was established only a few years ago but very successful company producing MOS-LSI, which no one could ever mass-produced in the world, making a lot of money. They made too much profit and wanted to invest in Korea to avoid paying too much income tax to Uncle Sam.

Though he himself couldn¡¯t explain MOS-LSI as well as I could understand, since he was not an engineer but a financial guy, I could imagine it is a kind of large sized semiconductor. I thought it could not be any more than a different kind of semiconductor and I accepted his offer to work for him at the first meeting.  

This was what I learned later but MOS means Metal Oxide Silicon (structure of the product) and LSI is large scale Integrated Circuit with hundreds of transistors in one small silicon chip (about human nail size). The latest technology puts even more than a billion transistors in a chip and hundreds means SSI (Small scale IC). But it was quite a large scale IC at that time as most IC chips contained only tens of transistors.

While Fairchild Semiconductors, Motorola and Texas Instruments – the first generation of  Semiconductor TRIO – were all successful of MOS-LSI at research lab., but all failed at mass-production lines, only AMI founded by 3 guys from Fairchild was succeeded to mass-produce it for the first time in the world.  

It was just about the time when the first simple electronic calculator was introduced in the world (not the computer but the desk top calculator) and the demand for MOS-LSI for the calculator was so great which made AMI a very rich company within a few years. The second generation of semiconductor TRIO – Intel, AMD and National Semiconductors – started at almost same time but they were far smaller company than AMI at that time.

Another reason AMI wanted assembly plant in Korea in addition to tax saving was : AMI had a subcontract assembly operation in Tijuana, Mexico, tested final product in Santa Clara and shipped to customers manufacturing calculators all over the world. Among these customers, Ricoh in Japan was one of the biggest customer for AMI and it would be very convenient for AMI to assemble, test and ship to Japan directly out of Korea, saving a lot of time and shipping cost. Therefore initial plan of Korea plant was to produce only the volume for Ricoh which was slightly lower than 20% of their total volume.

I joined KMI, the Korean Microsystems Inc., on March 1st. 1970. at the age of 35. We established KMI at Boopyung Export Trade Zone, about half way from Seoul to Inchon. When we started KMI, about 10 guys quit Semikor and joined us. Among them were Kyu-Man Shim and Chung-Kyu An.  

K. M. Shim was just few years younger than me and had responsibility of Engineering and Quality at Semikor. He was one of 3 Musketeers of Fairchild Semikor with me (Manufacturing Engineering Manager) and Young-Il Lee (Production Manager). He didn¡¯t have plant operation experience prior to Semikor but graduated Engineering College of In-Ha University, which I was going to enter but couldn't because of simple error reading my watch as already described in another chapter, at top school record. He was appointed as the Engineering Manager of KMI with same responsibility as he had in Semikor but reporting directly to Manny Choy, the General Manager of KMI.

On the other hand, C. K. An has majored Chemical Engineering at Han-Yang University and was hired as the store keeper at Semikor at first. When we talk at the cafeteria, he expressed many times he didn¡¯t like to work in store but want an engineering job in the production area. When I was Manufacturing Engineering Manager, I picked him up and appointed him to the Production Equipment Maintenance supervisor which usually requires mechanical or electrical engineering back ground rather than chemical engineering. However, I was really amazed very soon, as he was such a hard worker learning new knowledge so fast, functioning his new job even better than mechanical or electrical engineer within just few months.  

Therefore, I gave him additional responsibility of Facility Maintenance too and he digested that job also within a few months and he is now the best expert of semiconductor assembly plant facility in whole Korea perhaps. When I moved to Local Sales Manager, I made him to succeed my position making him the Manufacturing Engineering Manager. He also joined me to KMI and took same position as the Manufacturing Engineering Manager reporting to me just as he did in Semikor.

Now, K. M. Shim, C. K. An and D. I. Cho became a new 3 Musketeers of KMI operation, tightly united together under my lead, since not only I was the Plant Manager but also I was most experienced on plant operation and eldest among three, which is another important factor in Korea working together.

K. M. Shim is very intelligent, calm and logical guy, while C. K. An is quite a sentimental guy with strong ardor. There was nothing impossible to him and drove his people crazy most of times to do the job. However, he also loved his people so much and did whatever he can do to help his people even on personal matters whenever his people faced difficulties. Therefore, his people also loved and respected him very much. These 3 Musketeers were very strongly united together always. I couldn¡¯t find right Production Manager and acted the position myself.

On the first day I joined KMI officially (March 1st. 1970), I left for AMI to get 2 months training at AMI and K. M. Shim followed me about a week later to join me. This was my first trip to United States and I traveled together with my 2nd. sister through Hawaii by Korean Airlines flight. We stayed in Honolulu for a few days and went to L. A.  

At the first night in Honolulu, just as everybody experiences, I could not fall in sleep well, went out of hotel and walked around beautiful Waikiki beach streets at the midnight. When I walked around enjoying a lot of palm trees which I had never seen in my life, a young white man with dirty clothes approached me asking to help as he couldn¡¯t have dinner yet.

Well, I recalled instantly that we poor Koreans had been always helped by Americans after the liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945, especially during Korean War, and now, I got the chance to repay it. I didn¡¯t hesitate to give him a $1 bill. I had no idea how much I should give to beggar in U. S. A.. Since $1 was not a big money in Korea, I just gave him $1. It seemed $1 had really surprised him and he said ¡°Thank you¡± so many times and left.

Later, when I arrived AMI, I told this story to AMI guys and I asked how much they give to beggar usually. They laughed and said they usually give a dime or a quarter at the most. It seemed Americans were far less generous than us. Any way, I was very happy with the feeling that I have repaid small part at least of what we owed them during last 25 years.

When I arrived San Francisco airport through L.A., Mr. Charlie Isherwood, the Vice-President Manufacturing of AMI greeted me and took me to a very nice restaurant called Velvet Turtle in Santa Clara. I ordered roast beef following his recommendation and amazed how much Americans eat for dinner. The beef was so big and thick that I had to cut not only vertically but also horizontally (It is about an half size now.). I could eat only 1/3 of it and took the left-over to our apartment in doggy bag. They said it is doggy bag though every body knows it is not for dogs. They just didn¡¯t want to say it was for themselves perhaps.

When I saw American streets in Santa Clara for the first time in my life, it looked like a dead city. There was no one walking around and could not find any one to ask the direction, compared to Korean streets with so many people crowded. It was also very impressive to see so many trees in the streets. They were not specially expensive trees while Koreans used only expensive trees not growing fast in their gardens. I felt how nice it would be if Koreans would plant a lot of any trees in their homes just as America, as whole town looked like a park to me.

Any way, since it was my first visit to the United States, there were a lot of strange and interesting things I had seen.

There was a lady drawer in AMI who was a painter too. She invited us for a dinner at her house one day and I went her house with K. M. Shim. There, we could see what we would never dream to see.  In a wall of her living room, we saw a big nude painting of herself drawn by herself. It was a great surprise for us and couldn¡¯t believe our eyes. In addition, she invited her ex-husband and her current boy friend, both lived close, also for the dinner, which was another surprise of us. Not only that, these two guys were talking each other as if they were such good friends each other. If it would be Korea, no woman would invite ex-husband and boy friend at same time and these two guys would act as enemy each other. These would never happen in Korea and there was no way to understand all of them for us. What a different culture between Korea and United States!! It was really a cultural shock to us. Probably, we had seen the worst case (or best case ??) of this crazy California. This was just an accidental and exceptional experience while we stayed in California.

Not only this crazy lady, all AMI friends were so kind to us taking us to various beautiful and nice places such as Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco etc. in every week end days.

After 2 months of training, before we return to Korea, I visited Mr. Charlie Isherwood¡¯s office who was the Vice-President of AMI in charge of Manufacturing to be responsible KMI operation too and asked him whether he would send America expatriates to run KMI or not. I said ¡°If AMI send expatriates to run KMI, you would be relaxed trusting their experience. But Koreans would just follow their orders without taking any initiative, as it will be their responsibility to run KMI. On the other hand, if you do not send expatriate but let Koreans run KMI, you might worry about the operation as we are not as experienced on AMI operation as they are but we have to take full responsibility and have no choice but to take initiative for everything. We are confident we can handle it, but it is up to you to decide as it must be a very important decision you have to make.¡± He asked to give him a few days to think about it and told me a few days later that KMI would be operated under full responsibility of Korean management and he would not send any expatriate but just one Engineering Advisor who will only assist KMI engineers when there are unexperienced technical problems without involving any KMI management at all. After we agreed this principle, we returned home. I proposed this because I wanted to test my management in KMI taking quite a risk as I was not experienced it myself either and was not fully sure yet whether it would succeed or not. 

However, by this decision of Charlie Isherwood, I learned the difference between internationalized American management living with all kinds of race together and Japanese/Korean management who have to send so many own people whenever new oversea plants are established, as they can trust no one but their own race.

Meantime in Korea, C. K. An was in charge of plant construction. AMI Facility manager was designing KMI building in U. S. at first and asked me how many cars would be parked in KMI parking lots. He could not believe when I replied ¡°Space for 4-5 cars would be enough.¡± and asked ¡°How many employees are you going to have?¡± Well, in U. S., every employee brings their own car. But, in Korea, no employee had the car and there would be only a few company cars, which AMI people just could not believe!!

Any way, they said it would take about 6 months to design the plant and about a year to build it. C. K. An could not accept it and surprised AMI people saying he could design and build the plant in 6 months in total. As C. K. An insisted it, AMI guys asked C. K. to do whole job in Korea finally.

Actually, C. K. stayed so many nights in the office of design company with designers and the building construction was started in just about 1 month after the design contract was signed. As we hired the first group of operators in 4 months after the ground breaking, it was even less than 6 months to start the operation which really surprised AMI people and that was the C. K. An style job!!

KMI plant construction was started in early may right after I and K. M. Shim returned to Korea in early May and we had our offices in early August already. Then, except about 10 experienced staff members from Semikor, we hired fresh college or high school graduates only without any experience and started to train them. The reason we hired fresh graduates only was : I didn¡¯t want ¡°contaminated¡± people by other Korean companies and wanted to establish a ¡°KMI Spirit¡± among them from the bigninning.


I lectured on the first day of training of new employees myself and emphasized :

1) KMI is not a charity organization but a company established to make profit. Never misunderstand KMI as a charity organization.

2) Sorry to say but people is not much different from products in show windows in a shop. The value is decided by demand and supply. No more no less. If there are too many electronic enginners while not many electronic company in Korea, you can get low wage only and vise versa. And, if your quality is high demonstrating excellent performance, you will be paid high just as the high quality product in the shop is priced high. Only way to get higher salary is to improve your quality yourself.

3) Company bought 8 hours a day of your time. Therefore, it is company time, not yours. Instead, company has no right to involve rest of your time of 16 hours a day, which is all yours.

4) The company does not give you a job requiring any more than 8 hours a day. If you are capable guy to finish the job of the day in less than 8 hours, you may go home earlier. On the other hand, if you can not finish the job in 8 hours, you must realize you are an incapable guy. Unless there is an accident in the plant and you have to work longer than 8 hours, you have no right to ask overtime pay just because you worked more than 8 hours, and you shouldn¡¯t misunderstand as if you are a hard worker. We want efficient workers rather than hard workers.

5) Many people are asking the pay to guarantee your minimum living cost. What kind of minimum life are you talking about? Minimum life just to survive with 3 noodles a day? Yes, we guarantee it. However, minimum life playing golf and traveling around the world can not be guaranteed. Don¡¯t think of this kind of unclear request to the company.

6) These kinds of idea might be quite strange to you and hard to be accepted in Korea. However, regardless right or wrong, or you like or not, these are facts and I want you to think about them to work in this company.

I trained new employees this way from the first day. It might be still same mostly in Korea yet but this was really crazy revolutionary ideas in Korea at that ime which must have made them puzzled very much when they heard of it for the first time in their life. However, I heard a lot of feedback later from them that they have really learned a lot from me and really appreciated me for the lectures.

On the other hand, the plant was built with C. K. An¡¯s idea mostly which was quite different from typical Korean plant. The building was painted light blue and white to create peaceful atmosphere, there was no wall but beautiful trees around the plant as the fence, front yard had green grass just as American companies in U.S. with beach parasol which was a rest area for employees, there was no security guard house but information desk at the entrance hall of the building instead to guide visitors (I hated guard house of Gold Star Co.) and all of these considerations have created very friendly atmosphere to all employees as well as visitors, which became a very famous plant in Boopyung Industrial Park.

We started to train the first 20 operators in mid-August and hired 20 operators every week thereafter. They were trained for 2 weeks at Training Line and sent to Production Lines after a Qualification Test by Quality Control. It was hot summer and the plant was still under construction. Therefore, there was no air-conditioner working yet and all of us were sweating a lot. We provided Coca Cola in boxes to operators under training.

We produced proto type products from early September. Other than very experienced AMI¡¯s Manufacturing Engineering Manager helping us for just about 2 months, we, K. M. Shim and I, were only guys trained for MOS-LSI assembly just for two months only. Practically, KMI was started by Koreans who had no experience of MOS-LSI operation at all, except these 3 guys. We sent these products to AMI for test and, oh my god, they have all failed AMI test. According to the failure analysis in AMI, some invisible contamination were shorting circuits which AMI engineers could not identify what ¡°the invisible contamination¡± was.

Now, KMI¡¯s ¡°War against the Ghost¡± called ¡°invisible contamination¡± had started. We did all we could do to find out what this ¡°Ghost¡± is. It really took whole October and November to find out the ¡°Ghost¡± which was the clear floor wax the Facility guys used to shine the floor of operation area. When they dried, it became invisible clear particles floating around in the air, burnt by 400F degree high temperature heater block and shorted the circuits, while they were still clear and invisible even after they were burnt and carbonized. It was just one of the standard wax many Korean companies had been using in their plant. As the result, we paid quite tuition just to learn nothing unconfirmed new material or process should be ever used nor implemented until it is fully tested and qualified for products and processes.

Whole employees spent several days to remove this floor wax completely from whole plant floor and additional week to clean them again. However, new products we sent to AMI have passed their intensive test finally at the end of 1970, which was the greatest Xmas present for all KMI employees.

We finally started regular operation at the beginning of 1971, had some difficulties from time to time due to the lack of experience as expected, but could continue relatively smooth operation without any major accident thereafter with the help of AMI¡¯s Technical Consultant stationed in KMI for 2 years.

One of my routine work at KMI was to patrol around operation area once or twice a day and repeat same thing I had learned from Mr. Lyle Clevenger of Fairchild Semikor. What I was pointing at the operation area were :

Is the badge of operator really vertical in good order?
Is operation instruction sheet hung in front of operator clean and perfectly vertical? 
Are all dry box doors 100% closed always?
Are all dry boxes always in straight line?
Is every thing – materials, tools, - on the working table placed neatly in parallel or vertical to working table?
Is there any place with dirt, even at any corner?

Those are not directly related to the product mostly but most important for the operation (Please read my Semikor story first, if you don¡¯t understand.) and, whenever I walked in operation area, everyone was looking at their badges first to make sure they were in vertical.

KMI started this way. We could reduce product Defect Rate by 90% compared to AMI¡¯s Tijuana plant in 6 months and by 95% in a year. As the result, KMI made a lot of money for AMI saving tremendous amount of material cost which was far greater than KMI operating cost, which meant KMI made a lot of money without spending any money to operate.

KMI operation sailed smoothly for about 6 months and the operation was stabilizing day by day, when there was a big accident in AMI Tijuana plant. The cause of the accident was a rather simple negligence of precaution by a material handler there, but the result was horrible. AMI lost millions of dollars every day and had to halt all shipments to customers as their product was failing 100% at final test.

Hearing this story, KMI proposed AMI to transfer all production to KMI from Tijuana. At first, AMI still could not fully trust KMI operation as it was just a start-up operation with small volume only. They were not confident whether KMI could expand to the full volume and still maintain same performance. However, it was too big disaster for AMI and KMI was demonstrating such a wonderful performance. As contract with Tijuana plant was about to expire in 3 months, AMI finally wanted to take a risk and asked us whether we could expand our capacity to 5 times in 3 months.

Though expanding the capacity to 5 times in 3 months could not be an easy task, we could not miss the chance. We accepted the challenge and our effort of fast expansion took place for 3 month from July through September.  We hired 60 operators a week instead of 20 a week, started 3 shifts 24 hours of training of new operators – 20 a shift - and expanded operation too to 3 shifts from 2 shifts. We had to hire line supervisors, mechanics, technicians, store keepers – all for additional shift and lines in hurry (all totally unexperienced guys again) and train them in short period of time. In addition, we also had to install many new equipments from AMI to expand the capacity. Since not only there was no manager in grave yard shift including myself to supervise the operation but also grave yard shift work itself was not well known in Korea at that time. None of them were either familiar or experienced to the grave yard work. It was really another war against time.

However, for these 3 months, we have produced all volume AMI asked to produce on time without any delay. All KMI employees were so well united for this unusual task and there was no accident at all – even a small accident. During this period, the Defect Rate, which AMI management worried so much as the volume expanded so rapidly, also had been maintained very well going up only less than 1%. Thus, KMI surprised AMI management so much and they called KMI "A Miracle Operation¡±, which boosted KMI morale greatly and all of them were so proud of their KMI operation managed by Korean people only without American expatriate.

While we were so busy to expand KMI production capacity, on one day in Sept., we were called from Blue House (American White House of Korea) and was informed Korean President Chung-Hee Park was going to visit us on very next day. Since KMI was always so clean and everything well in order, we didn¡¯t need to prepare anything but welcome his visit. It looks like he got a very strong impression and sent his daughter Keun-Hye Park, who was a student of Seokang University majoring electronics, to KMI for two weeks to learn about KMI operation and I was awarded a Medal of Industry from the President Park in Blue House in October.

By the time we have successfully expanded our capacity to produce 100% of AMI volume in only 3 months, the recession had started from the 4th quarter of 1970. AMI had to reduce their work forces laying off people in Santa Clara, CA. AMI had to request KMI also to reduce number of operators by 1/3.

I called AMI and told them ¡°We understand the situation. However, there is no word of lay-off in Korea. Especially, if we lay-off people now right after crazy expansion, we will loose our face to Korean society and we will have extremely hard time to hire people again when we need them in the future. In my calculation, total labor cost of 1/3 of operators in KMI is no more than the salary of just a few engineers there. Why don¡¯t you lay-off a few more engineers there which will be a lot more beneficial for the future of AMI., as the face of the company is so important in Korean society. Unless we are facing the situation of no choice but to shut down the plant permanently, I don¡¯t think we can lay-off people here for the future.¡±

Finally, AMI agreed to me and gave up the lay-off plan of KMI. However, our volume decreased rapidly day by day because of recession and we had to work 5 days a week at first and 4 days a week at last at the end of the year.

Under this situation, I went to the General Manager one day and proposed craziest idea to him. ¡°Now, since we don¡¯t have enough volume to operate KMI, how about to shut down the plant for 2 weeks and send operators to celebrate New Year with their family in country side.¡± It was OK up to here. I continued ¡°The morale of the employees are very low now. Let¡¯s pay a half month wages as the bonus so that they can travel to country side homes with some New Year gifts for the family." I still remember his face. His face showed ¡°This Plant Manager is totally out of mind and crazy¡±

Well, I was crazy sure but not out of mind. I had my own idea with a smart calculation. The half month wage was no more than a few thousand dollars only, as Korean wage rate was so low and we didn¡¯t have too many employees at the time. There was a bonus system in Korean companies which was actually a forced savings rather than bonus, as all companies paid fixed amount of bonus regardless company makes profit or loss. It was always expected bonus. And, no one appreciated this kind of bonus but it was considered as a part of salary.

Now, we were in very difficult situation and how much would all employees appreciate to the company if we pay any amount of totally unexpected bonus under this kind of difficulty? My idea was actually - Let¡¯s buy royalty and unity of all employees with very cheap cost!!

The General Manager was so surprised at first but had to agree to my idea when I have explained my idea in detail. We paid bonus and all employees could really enjoy two weeks of paid vacation with families. (I will explain later, but this cost was recovered later by many many times.)

One day, the General Manager complained operators were using company letter head papers for their own personal letters to home or friends. I said ¡°They are all from country side poor family. If they write a letter on the paper with KMI logo, how proud their parents would be thinking their daughters are in very important positions in the company and how proud operators too. The total cost of office supply is less than 1% of our total operating cost. Why don¡¯t we encourage them to use it and make them happy and proud. If we can boost the moral of operators this way, I will recover many times of it¡¯s cost improving defect rate by just 0.001%.¡± We didn¡¯t encourage it but the General Manager didn¡¯t complain any further.

Another episode is – the General Manager said ¡°The best operators will have a company paid oversea trip as a reward on the Anniversary Day of the company.¡± It was just an instant statement without thinking much.

Now, the Anniversary Day was approaching but the cost was the secondary. There was no way we could get passports of the operators to travel overseas from government at that time. I had a dilemma how we could keep commitment of the General Manager to the operators. My management philosophy was - regardless who committed, General Manager or Supervisor, it is the commitment of the company which must be kept to maintain the trust of employees. We can not just cancel it saying it was our mistake.

I came up with an idea and proposed to send the best operators to Cheju Island which is a kind of ¡°oversea¡±. We sent 40 Best Operators with a supervisor to Cheju Island for all company paid vacation trip for one week and operators were so excited and happy, not only because of the trip but also taking airplane for the first time in their lives. And, I was happy as we could keep our word to the employees somehow.

One time, it was the time of annual wage increase. I called all supervisors and managers and discussed about the wage increase. I asked their honest opinion how much increase would be the most reasonal increase in their mind. As I have asked this face to face, they could not ask too much and asked about 7-10% as reasonable increase.

I went to the General Manger and proposed 12% increase. He puzzled at first about this always crazy Plant Manager but agreed as a few more % was not a large amount anyway at that time. We increased wages by 12% and we had never heard any wage complain from employees thereafter.

About a year earlier before we moved to U. S. A., there were great activities of labor union in Korea. Especially, there was a Christian society agitating employees of every company which was a great headache of many companies in our area. However, they could not touch KMI because KIM was operated with family like atmosphere and all employees were so loyal to the company. When I was asked from a visitor what I would do if they try to penetrate, I replied ¡°Let them try in KMI. I will not stop them as I am confident enough that the labor union would never happen in KMI."

My management philosophy is – Though the equipment and technology are very important factors for the success of the plant operation, the most important factor is operators, mechanics, supervisors who actually build the product most of all. Because I firmly believe the key of the success really depents on their mind, loyalty and enthusiasm, I spent a lot of time with them talking at cafeteria whenever I have time, to find their problems and become closer to them.

I always emphasized the importance of operators to all supervisors and engineers in the line saying ¡°The product is built by operators, not by you. Production supervisors and engineers are there not to supervise operators but to do the best to assist them on the area where they need assistance because of lack of knowledge, experience and/or authority. By same reason, I myself am here to assist you guys, not to supervise you. If you do not ask me any assistance, I have nothing to do and may be idling most of the times doing nothing.¡±

In next year of 1972, production volume was still very low and there were too many idling operators most of times. As it is very common that people tend to become lazy and complaint much to the company when they are idling as I had learned in Gold Star, I had to bring up some kind of idea to make them busy somehow.

After many study, I brought up ¡°ZD (Zero Defect) Campaign¡±. I heard about ZD Campaign many times earlier but never really understood what it was and how to do it. I went to book store, bought few books, studied it for the first time and prepared ZD program for KMI. And then, I trained people as if I was an expert of ZD Campaign.

My real purpose of ZD activity in KMI was to keep people busy rather than to reduce defect rate as the original purpose of ZD Campaign itself. This way, I could still make them to concentrate to the operation rather than to be idling and finding complains to the company. I would not discuss about our ZD Campaign in KMI in detail as it would not interest most of non-operational reader of this book.

The first quarter of 1972 was spent concentrating ZD Campaign which was somewhat helpful to reduce our defect rate further too and, from the 2/4, the semiconductor business started to pick up. Our volume also started to pick up rapidly and we became busier and busier week by week. Our efforts not laying off operators at all and concentrating ZD Campaign resulted a good training of all operators and ready for better operation. As their moral, loyalty and trust of the company management were very high to accept any hard work we had to ask them to produce high volume of good quality product, we could produce any volume AMI asked us on time without any delay, enabling only AMI could deliver good quality product on time to their customers. As the result, it was hard to calculate but we had recovered many times of our cost we paid as New Year bonus to all employees at previous year end.

After that, there was nothing happened specially. KMI sailed very smoothly without any major problem. Whenever, I made a trip to AMI, the Manufacturing VP met me at San Francisco airport and AMI people trusted me so much whatever I told them.

KMI operation itself was my best product in my life and it was the most enjoyable life for me. However, there were KMI 3 Musketeers – D. I. Cho, K. M. Shim and C. K. An – and whole KMI managers, supervisors and engineers as well as all other employees including all operators who had fully supported me behind always. Actually, it was the result of team work of all these people, reasonable and logical American style management philosophy, family like atmosphere of KMI as a single family all together etc. etc..

We played poker with all managers almost every week in my Hwakokdong home which was on the way back to their home from KMI after the work and went picnics also quite often on Sundays with all managers¡¯ families. Because we have lived all together just as a family and there are now many ex-KMI families moved to U. S. A., we meet here in Silicon Valley quite often still after more than 30 years, playing golf together once a quarter too.

In summer of 1973, I was proposed by AMI management to come to Santa Clara for 2 years to educate AMI Americans and coordinate between AMI and KMI, as they do not understand Korean people and society much, and cause some problems supporting KMI. (At the time, there were not many Americans who had seen latest Korea other than soldiers who saw only poor Korea during Korean War.)

I didn¡¯t have any intention to live in U. S. at that time. However, if it is only for 2 years, I could meet my commitment to Jane to take her to a forein country in 10 years, when we marry, though it was 1 year too late, and it seems not to be a bad idea to teach English to our boys early enough as world will become smaller and smaller moving to the globalization any way.

I accepted the proposal because of these reasons but was still going to return to Korea after 2 years assignment. We moved to Silicon Valley this way, but did not return to Korea and decided to live in California permanently as to be explained later.