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S. Korea: Hyundai Asan Chairman Commits Suicide (update)
Chosun Ilbo (NKchosun.com) ^
| Youm Kang-su, Chae Sung-jin
Posted on 08/04/2003 3:48:30 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Hyundai Asan Chairman Commits Suicide
by Youm Kang-su (firstname.lastname@example.org) and by Chae Sung-jin (email@example.com)
Chung Mong-hun, the Hyundai Asan chairman who was implicated in the secret transfer of money to North Korean before the June 2000 inter-Korean summit, killed himself early Monday morning by jumping out of his company office on the 12th floor of Hyundai group's head office building in Gye-dong, downtown Seoul, police and company officials said. Mong-hun had been under investigation over the "cash-for-summit" scandal and an allegation that he raised a W15 billion political slush fund.
A janitor found Chung's body in the garden at the entrance to the parking lot of the Hyundai building at 5:50 a.m. A parking-lot maintenance official said Chung's body lay in the garden and that the window to his office on the 12th floor was open.
Hyundai Asan officials said that the chairman entered his office at 11:52 p.m. Sunday, and police speculated that he jumped out of his office between 12:50 to 1:50 Monday morning, judging from the onset of rigor mortis in Chung's body.
According to police, Chung left what seemed to be suicide notes to President Kim Yoon-kyu of Hyundai Asan, Chung's wife and to his three daughters. In the note to Kim, he asked that his ashes be spread over the Mt. Kumgang region and that Hyundai's ongoing investment projects in North Korea to be pushed forward, as desired by his father and Hyundai founder, Chung Ju-yung.
In the notes to his wife and three daughters, Chung asked for their forgiveness for his suicide.
According to the police investigation so far, Chung had a drink with a high-school classmate, identified only as Park, who is known to be an executive of Hyundai Merchant Marine and is suspected of playing a key role in the firm's alleged illegal fund transfer to North Korea.
Police said that family members of the two alumni dined together with their families. The family members of the two went home, while Chung and Park went to a bar and drank late into the night. The police questioned Park, who said that he shared two bottles of wine with Chung before going their separate ways. Park said that while the two were drinking, Chung never mentioned the fund transfer and made no hints that he was thinking of killing himself.
Meanwhile, prosecutors said that while moving ahead with their inquiries into the W15 billion secret fund transfer, they conducted three different investigations into Chung, summoning him in later July and in early August. The prosecutors said that on August 2, two days before the suicide, they interrogated Chung for about 12 hours.
At about 8:10 on Monday morning, Chung's body was sent to Asan Medical Center in eastern Seoul, a hospital founded by the business group. Prosecutors said an autopsy has been conducted on Chung, with the consent of his family members.
Close acquaintances of Chung said the Hyundai Asan chair had been depressed and deeply concerned over the general public's divided attitudes towards the firm's investments in North Korea, despite that Chung had inherited the investment projects from his father.
Prosecutors had been investigating Chung's alleged illegal money transfer of US$500 million to North Korea, reportedly done to prepare for the summit talks between the two Koreas in June 2000.
Chung's sudden death is likely to throw a major roadblock in front of the prosecutors' investigation and to have a severe impact on the various Hyundai group-led North Korean investment projects, including the Mt. Kumgang tour and the Kaesong Industrial Complex construction projects.
Several family members of the late Chung Ju-yung gathered at the head office of the group in the morning to consult on the repercussions of Mong-hun's suicide. Those who were seen entering the building included Chung Mong-koo, Mong-hun's elder brother and the chairperson of the Hyundai Motor group, and Chung Se-yung, the former chair of Hyundai Motor and the young brother of the Hyundai founder.
As the news of Chung's death hit the share market on Monday, the share prices of the listed firms of the Hyundai group plunged across the board.
As of 10 a.m., the shares of Hyundai Merchant Marine and Hyundai Corp. whose the largest shareholder is Chung, shed more than 10 percent, while other Hyundai-related firms, including Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, all dropped in value.
The funeral is to be held Friday.
TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: chungmonghun; suicide
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Hyundai Son Struggled to Survive Dynasty Feuds
by Choi Hong-seob (firstname.lastname@example.org
Chung Mong-hun, 55, committed suicide on Monday. He was the fifth son of Chung Ju-yung, the founder of the Hyundai business group, formerly the nation's largest conglomerate. Mong-hun had been leading the group's various investment projects in North Korea.
The younger Chung led the group in founding Hyundai Electronics in 1992, and fostered the company into a rival of Samsung Electronics, Korea's largest firm. Hyundai Electronics changed its name to Hynix Semiconductor after the 1997 economic crisis.
Mong-hun's career at the Hyundai group earned him the respect of his father. In 1998, the elder Chung's faith in his son led him to hand-pick Mong-hun to be the co-chair of the group along with his elder brother, Mong-koo. Hyundai watchers at that time predicted that Mong-hun was the heir apparent to the family business, succeeding the octogenarian Ju-yung.
Since the later 90s, Mong-hun was picked by his father to lead the group's North Korean investment projects, including the Mt. Geumgang tour program. The projects paved the way for Mong-hun to become the new single owner of the Hyundai group, before its spin-off into separate groups in early 2001.
In March 2000, the Hyundai founder picked Mong-hun as the official single successor to the group, bypassing Mong-koo, the eldest son. Mong-koo, however, separated from the group, taking Hyundai Motor and its subsidiaries out from the group, and Mong-jun, the soccer federation chairman, also split Hyundai Heavy Industries and its subsidiaries away from the group.
The split-up was caused by the loosening grip of Ju-yung over the group. The eldest Chung appeared too old at that time to effectively rule his business empire.
Mong-hun found himself left with Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Hynix Semiconductor and Hyundai Merchant Marine, all of which were suffering from severe financial difficulties. With the ailing subsidiaries, Mong-hun ended up leading the miniature Hyundai group, which no longer ranked even in the top 10 business groups in Korea.
Mong-hun took office in June 2000 as the chair of Hyundai Asan, a small unit of the group, which was in charge of North Korean projects. Chung devoted all of his effort and time to the fledgling company, but was quickly involved in various speculative deals with the Stalinist regime, including an alleged multi-million dollar transfer to Pyongyang.
He is survived by his wife, one son and two daughters.
Market Speculates over Fate of Hyundai
by Song Eui-dal (email@example.com
With the death on Monday of Chung Mong-hun, the future of the Hyundai group is uncertain. Launched in 1947, the earlier Hyundai group was split into two sub-groups in early 2000, due to family infighting over control of the subsidiaries.
Chung Mong-koo, the eldest son of the group founder Chung Ju-yung, emerged from the struggle with the automobile and steel units of the Hyundai group, while Chung Mong-jun took over the heavy industries subsidiaries. The remaining subsidiaries, which included Hyundai Asan, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Hyundai Elevator, were taken over by Mong-hun, but the group itself rapidly deteriorated due to heavy losses from the subsidiaries.
Mong-hun held a 4.9 percent stake in Hyundai Merchant Marine and 1.2 percent in Hyundai Corp. His shares in Hyundai Engineering and Construction and in Hynix Semiconductor were forfeited in 2000.
Most of Mong-hun's businesses have been taking huge losses, resulting in the capital of the firms being totally wiped out by a pile of debt.
Hyundai Merchant Marine, the core unit under Mong-hun's ownership, posted W142.2 billion in net profit last year, but observers said the net profit figures were misleading because the company sold off its automobile transportation division for W1.8 trillion at the end of last year.
The shipping unit incurred about W300 billion in losses in both 2000 and 2001.
Hyundai Asan, the lead firm for the group's North Korean investments, has so far made no profit at all since its incorporation in 1999. The firm's capital was reinforced by W450 billion through about six different capital expansion plans, but the losses from the Mt. Geumgang tour projects wiped out the firm's capital.
Hyundai Asan submitted petitions to the government and the National Assembly, begging for government support for its reeling inter-Korean projects. The petitions were denied.
Under the worsening situation, observers predicted that the subsidiaries of the Hyundai group would have to be run by professional managers instead of by Chung family members.
The market is most concerned about the fate of Hyundai Asan. The firm's North Korean investment projects were done entirely by the group founder Chung Ju-yung, who used his extensive personal contacts to smooth out business deals. Hyundai watchers said that the firm's president, Kim Yoon-kyu, would be handling the day-to-day management of Hyundai Asan in the absence of Mong-hun, but eventually the Chung family members, including Mong-koo, whose Hyundai Motor group is doing good business, would take up a leading role in maintaining the on-going North Korea projects.
Observers also cautiously predicted that the government might take over all of the Hyundai-initiated projects.
To: AmericanInTokyo; Steel Wolf; OahuBreeze; yonif; Amelia; MEG33; Filibuster_60; FairOpinion; ...
As of 10 a.m., the shares of Hyundai Merchant Marine and Hyundai Corp. whose the largest shareholder is Chung, shed more than 10 percent, while other Hyundai-related firms, including Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and Hyundai Heavy Industries, all dropped in value
He's only one employee ... why do people freak out when a high level worker dies ?
posted on 08/04/2003 3:53:13 AM PDT
(We are crushing our enemies, seeing him driven before us and hearing the lamentations of the liberal)
I hate when people kill themselves by being pushed out of windows.
posted on 08/04/2003 3:54:08 AM PDT
(PROUDLY POSTING WITHOUT READING THE ARTICLE SINCE 1999!)
posted on 08/04/2003 3:57:01 AM PDT
(God Bless Our Troops!!)
He is also a big shareholder. He has been also mired in a big scandal. His company is financially in real bad shape. His death could set off a chain reaction of more financial problems being revealed, reorganization, and M&A.
This guy means little to me. However, I always think of David Kelly, the scientist who went for his "usual walk" to stretch his legs. It was SIX hours before they reported him missing????? I have a feeling this whole family was threatened. This guy was looking forward to returning to Iraq in a week and he was top of the line. Suicide????
posted on 08/04/2003 4:00:30 AM PDT
(God Bless Our Troops!!)
There are actually people suspecting a foul play. We will see.
My first thought too.
posted on 08/04/2003 4:05:36 AM PDT
(Qui tacet consentit!)
I'd like your take on this.When it first was announced it looked like a bribe to facilitate talks between NK and SK. Was the former leader of SK also involved?
posted on 08/04/2003 4:07:54 AM PDT
Exactly. If they'd found him at Ft Marcy Park, no one would give a rats patooie.
He was. I even go futher and believe that he was at least compromised because he took some money from N. Korean regime over the years. It is on the record that he took $50K(?) from the regime. One of his minion, Suh Kyung-won, made a secret trip to N. Korea and met the late Kim Il-sung, the former leader of N. Korea, came back with that pocket money and delivered it to Kim Dae-jung. The minion went to jail for this but Kim Dae-jung got away.
If I say this in public, 30% of S. Korean population, Kim Dae-jung's core constituency, will jump up and try to kill me.:) To them, he is a god, who is above reproach at all times.
We can be very partisan here but no one is above questioning!I think South Korea must realize the danger the NKorean form of government is to their democracy.Young people must see the success of SKorea over NKorea.Sentiment seems to drive the yearning for reunification.I think it is not a good thing in America or anywhere when the leaders are held as someone above the law.
posted on 08/04/2003 4:37:49 AM PDT
To: Sacajaweau; Ronin; Lazamataz; RedBloodedAmerican
For the foul-play buffs here, here is something to ponder on. The following picture shows the window from which Mr. Chung was supposed to fall to his death. It is 38 inch wide, 21.6 inch high. It can be opened to allow 15 inch high openings at maximum. Isn't it rather too small for an adult to jump out of?
The presumed path of his fall:
Has Bill Clinton been in SK lately, giving Arkancide pointers? You know he was in the UK right before the BBC's yellowcake source committed "suicide", right?
posted on 08/04/2003 4:45:10 AM PDT
(this space intentionally blank)
Haven't heard him showing up here. However, you never know.:)
Very small opening indeed!
posted on 08/04/2003 4:49:59 AM PDT
Doesn't Hyundai stand for "Hope You Understand Nothing's Drivable AND inexpensive"?
posted on 08/04/2003 4:50:25 AM PDT
by Mr. Bird
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