Silent Majority in Embattled Hyundai

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), July 29, 2000 | Go to article overview

Silent Majority in Embattled Hyundai


``Where are the righteous civic groups and lawmakers, have they all gone on summer recess?'' a middle-aged Hyundai Group employee said in frustration.

Newspapers report the latest developments on the Hyundai situation on a daily basis, as if providing updates on a major war. Mug shots of the founding Chung family members and their top lieutenants have become a fixture in the mass media's blanket coverage.

Facing with increasing certainty prospects of the conglomerate unraveling, tens of thousands of Hyundai employees remain a silent majority, holding their breaths for the next turn of events and faithfully following orders from above.

In the Hyundai headquarters in central Seoul, it is hard to hear criticism about the founding family. Perhaps this is because such questions are regarded as sign of naivete and are rarely asked.

``Hyundai is the country's largest business group and should act responsibly accordingly,'' the disgruntled Hyundai employee said, after resisting many unsuccessful attempts to nudge him into revealing his true feelings about the whole Hyundai situation.

``Convene a National Assembly hearing and put Chung Mong-koo and Mong-hun on the stand. Ask them why they are fighting, why they are jeopardizing the country's economy, and us,'' he added.

Mong-koo, Hyundai Motor chairman and fifth son of group founder Chung Ju-yung, has been in a sibling dispute over control of the group with Mong-Hun, Mong-koo's younger brother and former group chairman.

``Should Lee Ik-chi be responsible for the group's woes, he should be fired,'' the Hyundai employee said. ``Everybody knows they are at fault, but I don't see any rallies by civic groups in front of the Hyundai building warning them to behave.''

The Hyundai employee also said that he knew the reasons why they remain free from any serious challenges.

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