Chung Ju-yung

Chung Ju-yung (November 25 1915March 21 2001) was, along with his brothers, the founder of Hyundai Group, at one time South Korea's largest multinational conglomerate (chaebol). The Hyundai Group was split up from the 1980s till recently into many satellite groups. Chung had a very successful career. In Seosan, he carried out a successful reclamation project, using a decommissioned oil tanker as a cofferdam. Also he sent 1001 cows over the DMZ to North Korea. He was the first to propose the Geumgangsan sightseeing excursions. He developed the PONY as a first Korean car, which was the start of Hyundai Motors. He founded the Hyundai Heavy Steel Company which developed a non-dock shipmaking method. He died in 2001.

Early life

Chung Ju Yung was born the oldest of six children in Tongchon, Kangwon province (now within North Korea) during Korea under Japanese rule. As a boy, Chung dreamed of becoming a school teacher but his hopes were cut short because the restrictive environment at the time kept the family in poverty, effectively keeping Chung from the opportunities of higher education. Despite the setbacks, Chung continued to go to a local Confucian school run by his grandfather whenever his time was not taken up by tasks on the family farm.

Chung’s talent for business became apparent during his trips into town where he would sell wood. The fast paced atmosphere of the town along with the articles in newspapers he read sparked his imagination and he soon grew tired of the poverty that he and his family had to endure. At the age of sixteen, Chung and a friend decided to travel to the city of Chongjin for work in hopes of escaping the harsh realities of farm life. After a 15 mile trek through the most dangerous parts of the Paechun valley, the pair reached the town of Kowon where they took up jobs as construction workers. They worked long hours for low pay but Chung enjoyed the fact that he could independently earn money. Chung & his friend continued the work for two months until Chung's father found their whereabouts.

Second Attempt

The journey that Chung and his friend had embarked on made him realize his passion for civil engineering and gave him a sense of accomplishment that he had been looking for. Once he returned to Asan, he devised another escape plan; this time towards Seoul. With two companions, Chung left for Seoul in April 1933. The journey seemed to be destined for failure, especially since one of the boys had already got caught by a sibling early on. More misfortune came upon them when Chung was conned by a stranger who promised him and his friend jobs but instead took all of the money they had with them. The journey came to an end when Chung's father found the two staying at Chung's grandfather's house nearby.

Third Attempt

Chung once again found himself in Asan, where he remained for a year helping his father work on the family farm. Once his duties to the family were complete, Chung decided that it was time to make another attempt at getting out of poverty. He managed to get a train ticket for 70 won by selling one of his father's cows Once he arrived in Seoul, Chung enrolled himself in a local bookkeeping school hoping to start a career as an accountant. Things went smoothly for Chung for two months, when his father managed to find him and after a mild argument, took him back to Asan.

Rice Merchant

In 1931, at the age of 18, Chung decided to make a fourth attempt to escape. He left during the night with a friend who had been trying to escape a forced marriage. Once Chung had reached Seoul, he jumped at any job he could find. He first worked as a laborer at Incheon Harbor, later as a construction worker at Boseong Professional School and then as a handyman for a starch syrup factory.

After working for the syrup factory for nearly a year, Chung managed to land a job as a deliveryman at the Bokheung Rice Store in Seoul. Chung's new job offered him room for advancement and as Chung became more successful at it, he decided to stay on full time. Chung eventually won the praise of the rice store's core customers which impressed the owner so much that he allowed Chung to manage the store's accounting only after six months on the job. His experiences as the store accountant helped Chung thoroughly gain his business sense.

In 1937, the owner of the rice store became ill and decided that it would be in his best interest to give the store to Chung. At 22 years of age, Chung became the store owner and changed the name of the store to Kyungil Rice Store. The store grew and made good profits until early 1939 when the Governor-General of Korea implemented a rice-rationing system which forced Chung to lose profits and close the business.

Creation of Hyundai

A-do Service Garage

Chung returned to his village once his business failed and stayed there until 1940, when he decided to try again in Seoul. After mulling over his situation with the Japanese, Chung decided to enter the automobile repair business. Using a service garage he purchased from a friend, Chung started the A-do Service Garage on a 3,000 won loan. Within three years, the employee number grew from 20 to 70 and Chung was able to bring in a good income. In 1943, the Japanese Occupational Government forced the garage to merge with a steel plant as part of the war effort. Although his businesses were seeing their demise due to suppression by the Japanese, Chung returned to Asan with 50,000 won in savings to try and make the best of the situation.


In 1946, after the liberation of Korea from Japanese control, Chung started Hyundai as an attempt to return to the automobile business. Much of the company's profits during its early years came from American construction projects and car repair. During the North Korean invasion of 1950, Chung abandoned his construction projects and fled with his younger brother to Pusan for safety. Chung continued to build onto the company by gathering any kind of work he could get from the U.S. Army & the Korean Ministry Of Transportation. Once Seoul was regained by American forces, Chung reestablished the company and continued to gather more work from the Americans. From there on, Chung continued to grow and diversify the company.


Chung died at the age of 86 of natural causes at his home in Seoul, and was buried in accordance to Buddhist and Confucian customary rites. His wife, Byeon Jung-seok, passed away on August 17, 2007, due in part to long-term heart complications, and was buried in a family graveyard in Hanam, along with her husband and their son.





via Chung In-Young

  • Chung Mong-Guk.
  • Chung Mong-won. Chairman of Halla Group. Recently reacquired Mando Machinery.

via Chung-Soon-young

  • Chung Mong-sun. Chairman of Sungwoo Group (Hyundai Cement).
  • Chung Mong-suk. Chairman of Hyundai Welding Co., Ltd.
  • Chung Mong-hoon.
  • Chung Mong-yong. Chairman of Sungwoo Automotive.

via Chung Shin-yong

  • Chung Mong-hyuk. Former President of Hyundai Oil & Hyundai Petrochemical.

via Chung Se-yong

  • Chung Mong-kyu. Former Chairman of Hyundai Motor. Current Chairman of Hyundai Development Co., Ltd.

via Chung Sang-yong

  • Chung Mong-jin. Chairman of KCC.
  • Chung Mong-ik. Vice Chairman of KCC.
  • Chung Mong-yeol. President of KCC Construction Co., Ltd.

Notes & References

External links

  • Chung Ju Yung Cyber Museum

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