Il Yeon Kwon



Leadership is about taking chances. More than that, it’s about taking a chance on your dream. The name – Il Yeon Kwon – is a pretty popular one by now. Known as the Founder of H Mart, Kwon has made a name for himself as a global business owner and international food entrepreneur. But back in 1982, Kwon was just a man with a dream, a dream that led him to open a small, single store in Woodside, Queens. 

Despite its humble beginnings, H Mart is now recognized as one of the fastest growing retailers in the National Retail Federation’s HOT 100 RETAILERS (#13 H Mart). Supermarket News has listed H Mart as one of the Top 50 Small Chains and Independents in the United States & Canada. Il Yeon Kweon’s immigration to New York in the 80s – a true American Dream story – has grown into a huge supermarket chain with over 4,000 employees. 

“One of my favorite parts about this journey has been to see my daughter get involved with the business. She’s turning into a great leader and I couldn’t be more proud.” For Kwon, the intersection between entrepreneurship and leadership is important. And with H Mart being dubbed as the pioneer of Asian food in America, Il Yeon Kwon’s leadership abilities are of no question to anyone familiar with his success. One of the reasons for H Mart’s success was Kwon’s intrinsic ability as an innovative leader. For Kwon, half of the battle of leadership is about innovation — always staying on the edge and looking for new and creative ways to shake up the norm and break away from the status quo. “We were pretty instrumental in bringing Korean cuisine to the states. And as dishes like Korean BBQ and Kimchi are becoming household favorites, we are continuing to branch out and offer dishes that a lot of people haven’t even heard of.”

But even with all of the business success in mind, one of the most profound reasons for the success of H Mart has been Il Yeon Kwon’s ability to understand the power that food has in bringing people together. “In an increasingly polarized time, I think it’s really important to continue to gather around a table and celebrate the many small blessings on life — and one of them is certainly food.”

For more, be sure to follow Il Yeon Kwon online for the latest insights and updates into the world of entrepreneurship and leadership. In addition, be sure to check out H Mart online and find out where you can find a store near you!