The Hyundai Motor Company Founding Chairman
Hyundai’s Founding Chairman
Chung Ju-Yung – 1915 – 2001
Chung Ju-Yung was born in North Korea in 1915 as the eldest son of a poor peasant farming family. At the age of 18, he set off for good to Seoul with hopes of finding a better life.
Success was not immediate. He worked in various jobs, such as railway construction, bookkeeping and dock work. Mr. Chung’s first experience as an entrepreneur came in 1938 when he started his own rice store. However, he was forced to close his business a year later because of the policies of the Japanese occupation forces.
After the liberation of Korea in World War II, Mr. Chung went into business repairing trucks for U.S. Armed Forces. He then went into the engineering and construction business, eventually building multibillion-dollar mega-projects around the world.
His venture into the shipbuilding business is legendary. Despite a lack of experience in shipbuilding, he persuaded a customer to give him an order to build a ship for tens of millions of dollars. Now the company that he started is the largest shipbuilder in the world.
By sheer force of effort and creativity, Mr. Chung built businesses that helped make Korea the economic powerhouse that it is today. From humble beginnings, he rose to great heights. But even at the peak of his success, he remained disciplined, lived simply and worked hard.
In his final years, he turned his efforts toward the reunification of Korea. This son of a farmer sought to open avenues of communication between the North and South Korean governments and between the people, north and south. In private talks with leaders, in cross-border business ventures and in grand gestures, such as driving 1000 cattle back to North Korea, he helped bring hope back to the most cherished goal of reuniting the Korean people. It may well be that this final act of kindness and concern, while acting as an ambassador of peace, may be viewed by history as Mr. Chung’s greatest achievement.
Our Honorary Founding Chairman had many great philosophies that he lived by, but the one that we should all remember is: “It is failures rather than successes that teach us invaluable lessons – It is not necessary to remember one’s success. That should be remembered by others instead. Rather, we should remember our losses and failures – Those who forget their failures will fail again and again.”