Chung Mong-hun

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Chung Mong-hun
Native name 정몽헌
Born (1948-09-14)September 14, 1948
Died August 4, 2003(2003-08-04) (aged 54)
Hyundai office, Seoul
Cause of death Suicide by jumping
Nationality South Korea
  • Entrepreneur
  • businessman
Korean name
Revised Romanization Jeong Mong-heon
McCune–Reischauer Chŏng Monghŏn

Chung Mong-hun (September 14, 1948 – August 4, 2003) was the 5th son of Chung Ju-yung, the founder of the South Korean Hyundai conglomerate. After the death of his father, he took over part of his father's role and became the chairman of Hyundai Asan, the company in charge of various business ventures between North and South Korea. He committed suicide in 2003.

Professional career[edit]

Chung Mong-hun graduated with a degree in Korean literature from Yonsei University. He joined Hyundai Heavy Industries in 1975, and became head of the group's shipping interests within six years. His management style and loyalty impressed his father, and he was placed in charge of the corporation's highly successful electronics ventures.

Nearing retirement, his father Chung Ju-yung named Mong-hun Hyundai group co-chair in late 1997. This angered the eldest son Chung Mong-koo. In March 2000, Mong-koo made his boldest move: he tried to oust Mong-hun as group co-chairman while the latter was on a trip to Beijing and Shanghai. The patriarch, now 86, intervened. In another public drama played out on national TV, he pressed Mong-koo to let his younger brother be sole group chairman while he headed the car companies. He tried to oust Mong-hun in March, but his father made Mong-hun sole chairman instead. Mong-hun quit all Hyundai companies except Hyundai Asan.

On May 31, 2000, in a surprise announcement, Kim Jae Soo, executive vice president and head of the group's restructuring unit, read a note that patriarch Chung Ju-yung had dictated that morning. In essence, the note said that he and his sons Mong-koo and Mong-hun were resigning from all managerial positions within the Hyundai group. This was in response to mounting pressure from the media, the public, and the government for a top-level revamp of the debt-troubled company. Chung Ju-yung was willing to oblige, but only if all his sons quit the group. Anyone left behind could lord over the professional managers appointed to run Hyundai.

Mong-koo, announced that he was not going to resign as chairman of Hyundai Motors Co. and Kia Motors Corp. On the contrary, Mong-hun dutifully announced his resignation from all but one of his positions in the chaebol, including the group chairmanship. The only post he kept was the chair of Hyundai Asan, which his father wanted him to continue running.

Scandal and suicide[edit]

Chung was indicted in June 2003 for his role in the Cash-for-summit scandal on charges of doctoring company books to hide the secret money transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars by the Kim Dae Jung administration to North Korea to set up the historic North-South presidential summit in 2000. Facing up to three years in prison and apparently shamed after he was forced to testify in court about the secret money transfer days earlier, he committed suicide on August 4, 2003 by leaping from his 12th floor office.[1] Police claimed he left several suicide notes. He was reported to have apologized for his suicide, and claimed "everything is my fault". He had been accused of secretly transferring millions of dollars to the North Korean government. Buddhist monks presided over the last rites conducted during his funeral.[2][3][4]

See also[edit]