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3rd generation making their moves

Oct. 25, 2016 - 16:06 By Park Ga-young
South Korea’s leading companies such as Samsung and Hyundai have more than 60 years of history under their belt and these family-run enterprises now face leadership transitions as the third generation begins to take over.

These conglomerates face the daunting task of balancing their multinational status with family control over management that now spans multiple generations.

Chung Eui-sun, Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman

Their challenges are further complicated by the slowing economy, low growth and spreading protectionism in major markets, along with debacles such as the suspension of production of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Note 7 and Hyundai Motor’s recall of faulty vehicles.

Bolstered by tight-knit succession schemes but restricted by tough critics, third-generation family members have started making their debuts after years of apprenticeship, moving to expand their presence through new initiatives.

Chung Eui-sun, 46, vice chairman and CEO of Hyundai Motor, is the eldest son of Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo. He holds 2.23 percent of Hyundai Motor shares and is a registered board member. He is also registered board member for three Hyundai affiliates including Hyundai Mobis, Kia Motor and Hyundai Steel.

He started working for Hyundai in 1999. In 2005, he was appointed the CEO for Kia Motor which had been struggling for several years. Chung emphasized design and recruited top talents from competitors, eventually turning the company around. In 2009, he rose to the position of vice chairman of Hyundai Motor. Since then, he has showcased his leadership, leading the development of the company’s premium brand Genesis.

Over at retail giant Shinsegae Group, the 13th largest conglomerate in South Korea, the past year has been a year of power distribution between two children of group Chairman Lee Myung-hee. 

Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin

Chung Yong-jin, 48, the vice chairman and CEO of Shinsegae Group, has focused on discount chain E-mart and new shopping malls. His younger sister, Chung Yoo-kyung, is president of Shinsegae Department Store.

Earlier this year, Shinsegae Group separated the management of E-mart and Shinsegae Department Store through a stock trade between the brother and sister. The vice chairman now runs E-mart, Shinsegae Food Inc., Shinsegae TV shopping Inc. and Starbucks Korea, while the president operates department stores and duty-free shops.

Hanwha Group, the nation’s 10th largest conglomerate, is also transferring power to its third generation. 

Hanhwa Q Cells Chief Commercial Officer Kim Dong-kwan

The three sons of Kim Seung-youn have been raising their visibility in management in the group’s new growth engines, such as its solar and financial technology businesses.

The eldest son and heir apparent, Kim Dong-kwan, was promoted as chief commercial officer for Hanwha Q Cells, the group’s solar business unit, in March 2016. Meanwhile, Kim Dong-won, the second son, who officially joined Hanwha in 2014, leads the fintech unit of Hanwha Life.

By Park Ga-young  (