Korean businessman Chung Ju-yung founded Hyundai in 1946 (in Korean the name roughly means “modernity”). Interestingly, Hyundai actually began as a building company.
On this day died Korean businessman Chung Ju-yung, significant because he founded a major corporation, Hyundai, and had direct control over it until his death. Chung’s relatives still govern a large part of the companies derived from Hyundai. Indeed, today these companies together form South Korea’s largest industrial conglomeration.
The name Hyundai is now carried by the Hyundai Motor Group, an automobile company that is ranked fourth in the world in car production (after Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors). Interestingly, the Hyundai Motor Group is also the owner of a large part of the shares of another famous Korean carmaker – Kia Motors.
Today is perhaps even more significant that Hyundai Heavy Industries is the largest shipbuilding company in the world. Hyundai could theoretically build ships up to 1,000,000 tons. In addition, Hyundai is also engaged in the steel industry, production of elevators, finance, and other industries.
Chung Ju-yung, founder of Hyundai, was of humble origin and built his wealth almost from scratch. His adolescence was difficult, because Korea was under Japanese occupation at that time. The two business he started (rice trade and automobile repair) had to be discontinued because of the Japanese repression. It was only after World War II that he achieved real success. In the year 1946 he founded Hyundai (in Korean the name roughly means “modernity”). Interestingly, Hyundai actually began as a building company. After the World War II, Chung Ju-yung succeeded to get large construction contracts for the purpose of post-war Korea reconstruction. Hyundai built dams, highways, shipyards, and even a nuclear power plant. It came in handy that his younger brother knew English and was on good terms with the U.S. soldiers. Thus began the story of Hyundai, which continues to this day.