The Founder Of Hyundai Had To ESCAPE North Korea! Here’s What Happened.

Hyundai cars are popular vehicles 
in car markets all over the world.   But it wasn’t always like this. Their journey 
to the top was a difficult one that was faced   with a lot of challenges and situations 
that seemed hopeless. It all started with   a young boy born into an impoverished family in 
North Korea, an ambition, and a stolen cow.
  This is the story of Hyundai…
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  Jung Joo-Young was the eldest son of eight 
children. He belonged to a large and poor   farming family that lived in 
northern regions of Korea,   which would eventually become 
what we now know as North Korea.   When Jung was born on November 25th 1915, Korea 
was under strict rule by Japanese colonists.
  While he was still a young boy, Jung had dreams 
of becoming a school teacher. However, it became   evident to him soon enough that these dreams 
may never become reality. He got an education   but couldn’t go further than grade school because 
of how poor his family was.

After grade school,   his days were spent working on his family’s farm.
Jung discovered his talent for business on the   days when he would go into town to sell 
wood. Soon, he got tired of the life of   poverty that his family was living and made 
plans to leave that life behind.
  Jung had gotten fed up with the poverty he had 
to live in everyday, so at the age of sixteen,   he decided to run away from home.

He and a friend 
trekked for miles to Kowon county which was also   in the northern regions of Korea. The two friends 
worked as construction workers. It was tiring   work and the pay wasn’t good, but because he was 
earning his money independently, Jung preferred   the poor working conditions on the construction 
site to having to work on his family’s farm.
  Unfortunately, that didn’t last for too long. 
Jung’s father soon found out where he was and   he was forced to return to his home in Asan. But 
at this point, Jung had gotten a taste of freedom   and had discovered his love for engineering. 
Not too long after, he planned another escape.   He and two friends left for Seoul, but 
immediately encountered some setbacks.   Early on in the journey, one of the 
three friends was found out by a sibling,   leaving only two people to continue the escape.
The two remaining friends ran into yet another   difficulty. They were offered jobs by a stranger 
who ended up conning them out of all their money.   Finally, their escape plan was foiled completely 
when they were caught by Jung’s father.   Jung was once again left with 
no choice but to return home.   He stayed for about a year in Asan, busy 
with work on the family farm.
  Jung was 18 years old when he finally managed 
to escape from his father’s grip for good.   He made his trip to Seoul by train and 
paid for the expensive ticket by secretly   selling one of his father’s cows.
Once in Seoul, Jung looked for job opportunities   anywhere he could find them.

At different points 
in time, he was a laborer, a construction worker,   and a handyman at a factory. Eventually, he found 
a job in a rice shop as a bicycle delivery guy.   The job allowed him to rise through the 
ranks. He worked hard and gained the favor   of the customers and even the store’s owner.
In 1937, at the age of 22, Jung bought the store   on credit from the owner, who had fallen sick. 
The store grew and made good profits until early   1939 when Japan, in its war efforts to secure 
rice supplies for the country and its military,   imposed an oppressive rice-rationing system which 
forced Korean businesses out of trading rice.

  Jung returned to his village once his 
business failed and remained there until 1940,   when he decided to try again in Seoul. After 
considering the reality of restrictions   imposed on Koreans in certain industries by the 
Japanese Occupational Government, Jung decided   to enter the automobile repair business. Using 
a service garage he purchased from a friend,   Jung started the A-do Service Garage on 
a 3,000-won loan. Within three years,   the number of employees grew from 20 to 70 and 
Chung was able to earn a good income. In 1943,   the Japanese Government forced the garage to merge 
with a steel plant as part of the war effort.
  Jung went back to his village, 
but he was far from giving   up.
At the end of World War II, after Korea   had been liberated from Japan, Jung restarted his 
automobile repair business. This time, he named it   Hyundai which translates to “modern” in English. 
In 1947, he established Hyundai Civil Industries   in anticipation of the major reconstruction that 
was bound to happen because the war had ended.

  With the help of one of his brothers who was 
fluent in English, Jung won several lucrative   contracts from the United States military 
in South Korea. Unfortunately, his business   was once again disrupted by the outbreak of war 
between the northern and southern sides of Korea.   In 1950, when the war began, Jung and his younger 
brother had to abandon the business and run away   as South Korea was being invaded by the north.
When the war ended in 1953, Jung returned to his   company and resumed work. The company won more 
and more contracts and continued to thrive.   Soon, it was one of the largest construction 
companies in the entire South Korea.
  Jung’s company won many elite projects. In 
1967, the company built the Soyang dam which   was completed in 1973. In 1968, Hyundai Civil 
Industries began construction on the Gyeongbu   Expressway which is currently the second 
oldest and most heavily travelled expressway   in South Korea. The construction of 
this expressway was completed in 1970   and is known today as the most important 
expressway in South Korea.
  Jung had a mission to industrialize Korea 
so that the country wouldn’t have to depend   so much on foreign aid.

Barclays Bank

So, Jung also established 
an automobile manufacturing plant in Ulsan, South   Korea. His company grew and continued to spread.
The automobile company that Jung started was put   under the control of his brother.
At its birth, the company started off building two   car models for Ford Motor Company to serve 
the market in South Korea. However, in 1974,   the company decided to produce their own 
car. They hired an engineer, George Turnbull,   who went ahead to hire five other British car 
engineers to work on the project with him.
  Using some car parts from Mitsubishi and 
some from a Ford model that the company was   already building, the team drew on their 
combined experience and created the first   true Hyundai car – the Hyundai Pony.
This car was introduced to South Korea   and the rest of the world in 1975. 
The Hyundai Pony was the first   mass-produced and exported car in South Korea.
As Hyundai grew fast, Jung was constantly looking   for opportunities to expand and to diversify.
He was known for his nearly iron-fisted approach   to business.

He worked hard, determined to 
outshine other top conglomerates in South Korea   such as Samsung and the Daewoo Group.
Then one day, he decided to go into the   shipbuilding business. This was a bold move for 
him to take, considering that he had no experience   at all in the business of shipbuilding.
Undeterred by his lack of shipbuilding expertise,   Jung convinced a client to 
give him a contract to build   a ship worth tens of millions of dollars.
He travelled to England and met with some bankers   from the prestigious Barclays Bank in London. He 
showed these bankers a 500-won bank currency note   which had a picture of an iron ship that had been 
built in Korea in 1592 [Picture], 300 years before   the British built and launched their first iron 
ship. He convinced them, using this currency note,   that the shipbuilding industry had potential 
which had been suppressed in previous times.   With this, he successfully persuaded them 
to give him the shipbuilding contract.
  This was the beginning of Hyundai Heavy Industries   (also known as HHI) which is the largest 
shipbuilding industry in the world today.   HHI was built in Ulsan, South Korea.

Ulsan 
Shipyard, owned by Hyundai Heavy Industries,   is now the largest shipyard in the world.
The first ship built by this company was   completed in three years, which was two years 
sooner than what was originally expected.
  Hyundai Heavy Industries thrived and achieved its 
current status as the largest builder of merchant   ships in the world within 30 years of operation.
In time, Hyundai’s name was all over South Korea.   Hyundai built roads, bridges, ships, 
trains, cars, electronics, and more.   Ulsan, which was the city where Hyundai had the 
headquarters of its shipbuilding, construction,   and automobile manufacturing businesses, was 
informally known as Hyundai City.
  Jung wasn’t satisfied with his success in just 
South Korea.

He was interested in entering into   foreign markets. So, true to his methods, 
Jung went ahead and did just that. He bid   for several contracts overseas and won some. In 
the 1970’s he won a contract to build the Jubail   Industrial Port in Saudi Arabia which was, at 
the time, the largest construction project of the   20th century and is still considered one of the 
largest industrial ports in the world. In 1986,   Hyundai entered into the U.S. automobile market. 
They provided cars that the average consumer found   valuable while other automobile manufacturers were 
beginning to focus their attention on building   expensive, high-end vehicles.
Jung had successfully built an   empire that was giving Korea’s economic 
status a huge boost.
  Toward the end of his life, 
he used his business skills   to lobby relentlessly for South Korea to 
be the host of the 1988 Summer Olympics.   Eventually, they won. Hosting the Summer Olympics 
brought great pride to the people of South Korea.
  Later in his life, Jung worked 
to reunite North and South Korea.   In 1992, he ran for president. Although the party 
he created won 30 seats in the National Assembly,   he lost the presidential race.

Despite this, 
Jung continued trying to unite the two Koreas   as a civilian. In a grand gesture, he made a trip 
in 1998 across the North Korean border. He took   with him 1000 cows as a gift to North Korea 
to pay for the cow he stole from his father.   He had plans to negotiate with the North Korean 
government and to embark on projects that would   reunite the two Koreas. Unfortunately, he died 
before he could bring this dream into reality.
  In present times, the Hyundai Conglomerate is 
restructured into various groups based on the   services or products delivered. Each group is 
worth billions of dollars today. It’s almost   hard to believe that all this started from a 
young boy, an ambition, and a stolen cow.
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