Chung Mong-koo 101: Leading Hyundai to Success
Zatrun Published at July 30, 2023

Chung Mong-koo, born on March 19, 1938, in Kangwon Province, South Korea, is a distinguished figure in the business world. He serves as the honorary chairman and was previously the CEO of Hyundai Motor Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, overseeing 54 subsidiaries, including Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, and Hyundai Steel. His journey in the corporate realm commenced in 1970 when he joined the engineering and construction division of the Hyundai Group, laying the foundation for a remarkable career.

Mong-koo’s ascent to the helm of Hyundai Motor Group is closely tied to the conglomerate’s founder, Chung Ju-yung, who happened to be his father. When the Hyundai Group underwent a significant split in 1999, Chung Mong-koo assumed leadership of the Hyundai Motor division. He holds the distinction of being the eldest surviving son among Chung Ju-yung’s eight sons, signifying the weight of the responsibility that fell on his shoulders.

Chung Mong-koo: A Legacy of Leadership

Despite the controversies that have surrounded Chung Mong-koo’s career, he is known for his unwavering commitment to Hyundai Motor Group. Described as a “vigorous septuagenarian,” he sets a remarkable example by starting his workday as early as 6:30 a.m. He actively engages with senior executives in monthly quality reviews, showcasing his hands-on approach to management and leadership.

It’s important to note that although Chung Mong-koo holds only 5.2% of Hyundai Motor’s stock, he exerts a disproportionately strong influence over the company. This influence is facilitated by intricate corporate governance structures. Hyundai Motor holds 34% of Kia, which, in turn, owns 16.9% of Mobis. Remarkably, Mobis holds 20.8% of Hyundai Motor. This complex web of ownership ensures that external shareholders lack the power to appoint board members. Chung Mong-koo’s strategic positioning in this corporate ecosystem is a testament to his control and influence.


Chung Mong-koo’s career has not been without its share of controversies. One of the most notable incidents was his 2007 conviction for embezzlement and breach of fiduciary duty. He was accused of embezzling 100 billion won (approximately $106 million) from Hyundai to create slush funds used for bribing officials.

Although he was sentenced to three years in prison, Chung Mong-koo’s sentence was suspended in consideration of the significant economic impact his imprisonment would have. He was ordered to perform community service and make a substantial donation to charity. This case was seen as a pivotal moment for transparency and the rule of law in South Korea.

In addition to the embezzlement case, Chung Mong-koo faced accusations of nepotism. His son, Chung Eui-sun, was often referred to as his “heir apparent,” despite concerns about his business and leadership capabilities. Questions of nepotism were further fueled when Ozen, a bakery cafe linked to Chung Mong-koo’s daughters, set up shop within the company’s premises, although it eventually closed in 2012.

Despite the legal challenges and controversies he has faced, Chung Mong-koo’s influence on Hyundai Motor Group is undeniable. His dedication to the company’s growth and unwavering commitment have contributed to the conglomerate’s success. Chung Mong-koo’s leadership continues to shape the future of Hyundai Motor Group and the South Korean economy. For a comprehensive exploration of this influential figure, you can turn to the detailed coverage provided by

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