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December 18, 2018

Frank Ahrens

Vice President
BGR Public Relations

Hyundai Motor Heir Cements Power in Korea

Originally published in Forbes

Hyundai Heir Uses Year-End Exec Shuffle To Cement Power

Frank Ahrens

The year-end executive shuffle is an annual event at South Korea’s mighty family-owned conglomerates, or chaebol. Samsung, Hyundai Motor, LG, SK and others retire, promote and reassign their executives in order to fix problems, or get rid of them. If you’re a Korean salaryman, you’ve come to expect the unexpected. You may go to work one day at Hyundai Motor and, after you get the news of your new assignment, drive across Seoul to finish the same day in your new job at one of Hyundai’s many affiliate companies. Executives who are being sent to company postings overseas will get a little more warning, but not much.

Good executives are promoted or sent to turn around poor-performing affiliates; bad or older ones are retired out, or “go home,” in the parlance. You come in the day after the shakeup and ask, “Where’s Mr. Kim?” “He went home.” “Ah.”

This week, Hyundai Motor Group executed its annual year-end executive shuffle, but this one was more meaningful than most: In this shuffle, newish Executive Vice Chairman Euisun Chung – son of Chairman Mong-koo Chung, grandson of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung – firmly put his stamp on the company and set its course for the future.

Euisun Chung, also known as E.S., 48, is the first of the founding family members to be educated outside of Korea; he went to grad school at the University of San Francisco. Unlike his father, Euisun Chung’s English is fluent. At the launch of Hyundai’s B-segment Kona CUV in June 2017, he appeared on-stage in a t-shirt and jeans rather than a suit and tie, sending ripples of surprise through Hyundai’s workforce. At Hyundai Motor Group headquarters in the Yangjae neighborhood of southern Seoul, there’s now a nearly a no-tie policy, partly because of Euisun Chung but also because of the way younger Koreans think and work today. The image of the rigid, conformist suit-and-tie Korean salaryman is largely no more.

In September, Euisun Chung was elevated from Vice Chairman to Executive Vice Chairman of the Hyundai Motor Group, essentially making him de facto chairman. At some point the formality will take place and he’ll be named chairman. As such, he is installing his people around him, making the generational changes as father before him did.

Read the full article in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankahrens/2018/12/13/hyundai-heir-uses-year-end-exec-shuffle-to-cement-power/#58a6486b46b0

Tagged: West Virginia, South Korea, Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUSFTA), Free Trade,

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