History of Hyundai

  Taking pride in your car by driving it and admiring it is one thing, actually knowing its history is quite another.

The Hyundai Motor Company is one if not the most dynamic automobile producer in any developing country. This is remarkable considering that the company is closing in on 40 years of existence. To outline its history one must also look into the life and times of its founder Chung Ju-Yung. It cannot be told without the outlining the founders rise from the rice fields of Korea to the circumstances that let him to acquire the knowledge and determination that led to the creation of one of the fastest growing family owned businesses into a global competitor. His creation of numerous companies eventually let to the establishment of the Hyundai Group. The Hyundai Motor Company was one of these. He created it and transformed it from a mere assembler of Ford models to a designer and exporter of its own cars and engines in less than four decades. It has already become a major global player with plants and dealerships that span six continents. The company is one of the largest and most diversified business organizations with 45 affiliated domestic companies and 254 overseas companies in nearly 200 countries. The Hyundai Motor Company is but one which the Group is active in such as shipbuilding, steel, petrochemicals, heavy machinery, aerospace, electronics and financial services. These pages therefore outlines not only the rich and unique History of the Hyundai Motor Company but also the remarkable years beforehand that led to its creation, the eventual breakup of the Group and its continuous development into a top ten global automaker.

  Reason for this page
  While I am a fanatic of the Hyundai brand, I failed to see a one page source of the company's complete history. The following write up is compilation from numerous sources acquired throughout the internet, books and company sources that are available to the public. I just grouped them in one place for easier access. The resources for this write up are acknowledged in footnotes and at the end of this page, Including if any original write ups.

 Quick Year Access


 Pre-Hyundai History 1900-1946

1915 1930 1932 1934 1937 1939 1940 1945 1946 1947
1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

 History Part 1. Before the Hyundai Motor Company. 1915-1939

  The story of Hyundai Motor Company starts off first and foremost with its founder, Chung Ju-Yung. He alone created an industrial empire, pulled post-war Korea out of poverty and ruin while building his own fortune. As mentioned in the abstract, to outline the History of Hyundai one must start with its founder and the years leading up to the creation of the Hyundai Motor Company. 
What does Bill Gates of Microsoft, Phil Knight of Nike,
Pierre Omidyar of ebay, and Larry Page of Google all have in common. They have the vision, the tenacity and the refusal to back down, and turn a company into a global player. In Korea, its best personified by Chung Ju-Yung who with his vision created a group of companies that by the time he retired in 1991, accounted for 16 percent of Korea’s gross domestic product and 12 percent of its total exports. The Hyundai Group is one that helped Korea rise to become the world’s 11th largest economy, the eight largest trading partner of the U.S., and a global leader in construction, semiconductors, shipbuilding and steel production. The following outlines the years leading to the creation of the Hyundai Motor Company.
Chung Ju-Yung the eldest son of two girls and six boys is born on November 25th, 1915 in the northern mountainous region of Tongchon, Kangwon-do in what was later known as North Korea to a poor peasant farming family.  
Chung graduates from Sonjon Primary School. [1]  
Chung’s formal education ends when at the age of 14, his father withdraws him and set him to task of helping to provide for his younger siblings by working as a laborer on the family farm. He was later sent to work as a railway construction laborer, bookkeeping and then as a dock hand for a barge owner. All this by the age when most modern youths would be entering junior high school. All the wages he obtained from these jobs were taken by his parents to feed the family. These numerous job assignments and stressful situations to provide for the family led young Chung to attempt to run away from his Tongchun home numerous times. Twice he was caught and brought back and discipline.  
Chung third and final attempt to run away was successful and he financed his 120 mile trek to Seoul by selling one of his father’s cows, arriving in the city around the age of 16.[2]  
Chung Ju-yung (then 18 years old) enters the business world by being employed at “Bokheungsanghwoe”, a rice shop in Seoul.  
At the age of 22, Chung Ju-yung opens his own rice shop “Gyungilsanghwoe” after the acquisition of the former shop. Learning that the first and foremost fact in establishing a business is trust.  
Chung Ju-yung Marries 16-year old Byeon Jung-seok.  

History Part 2. Occupation, Planting the seeds and The Group is formed. 1940-1950
In the following decade, due to the Japanese occupation, Chung Ju-yung starts planting the seeds which eventually form into the Hyundai Group. A group of companies that become the biggest conglomerate (chaebol), in the country of Korea. The Group comprised many areas of activity including shipbuilding, car manufacturing, retailing, finance and electronics in the years to come.
The Japanese, which had occupied Korea at the time, made it illegal for Koreans to own such critical food trades as rice shops and forced Chung Ju-yung to shutdown. This led him to be a truck driver and then owner of his own delivery service. With the delivery service he gained the knowledge of repairing the trucks and this led to operate an automobile repair shop.  
Chung Ju-yung officially opens and establishes a garage and repair firm, known as the “Ah-do Service” auto repair shop in Seoul in March 1940.  
Chung Ju-yung (then 31 years old) establishes Hyundai Auto Service in Seoul, South Korea on April, 1946 and repaired trucks for the US Armed forces in South Korea. The business helped create and financed The Hyundai Civil Works Co. (known as Hyundai Togun), which was later merged into the Hyundai Engineering and Construction. Hyundai becomes the U.S. Army’s favorite contractor during the Korean War.  
The Hyundai Group is founded by Chung Ju-yung as a construction company. The company, Hyundai Civil Works Co. is formally establishment on May 25, 1947.  

History Part 3. Mergers, Expansions and Contracts. 1950-1966
Hyundai Togun renamed into Hyundai Construction and Engineering Co. in January, after merging the Hyundai Auto Service and the Hyundai Civil Works Co. together.  
  Hyundai Commercial Transportation Co. established in July.  
Hyundai Construction ranks first in the construction industry in terms of orders received.  
Hyundai Construction’s headquarters is built in Mukyo-dong, Seoul in January.  
Completion of Hyundai Construction’s cement factory in Tanyang, Chungchong-pukto in June.  
Receives order to build Thailand’s expressway, the nation’s first order from abroad in September.   

History Part 4. The creation of the Hyundai Motor Company 1967-1970
Hyundai starts building the multipurpose dam on the Soyang River in April. Finishes the project in Dec. 1973.  
Hyundai Motor Company established by Chung Ju-yung and his brother Se-yung Chung on December.  
Hyundai starts on an eight year experience process of assembling vehicles (1968-1976).  
Entered into an Overseas Assembler Agreement (Licensing Agreement) with Ford. (Whereby Hyundai was to assemble Ford compact cars on a semi-knockdown (SKD) basis. Ford transferred “packaged” technology to Hyundai with a set of explicit knowledge, such as blueprints, technical specifications, production manuals and training of Hyundai engineers. This agreement with Ford gave Hyundai valuable migratory knowledge with which to upgrade its tacit and explicit knowledge to auto assembly.  
Hyundai achieves the shortest time (six months) between groundbreaking and first commercial production among the 118 Ford assembly plants around the world.  
Hyundai starts producing the Ford Cortinas and Ford Granadas for the South Korean domestic market from 1968 through 1976.  
Construction begins on the Kyungbu Expressway connecting Pusan and Seoul. Finishes in June 1970.  
Chung Ju-yung inaugurated as Hyundai Construction Chairman in January.  
Hyundai Cement Co. established.  

History Part 5. Collaborating and Learning  1970-1980
Chung Ju-yung becomes the Hyundai Group chairman in February.  
On March 23, Hyundai Heavy Industries established. Specializing in Shipbuilding, offshore & Engineering and Industrial Plant & Engineering. Founder Chung Ju-Yung takes his first shipbuilding order for Hong Kong trade giant CT Tung, before even building his ship yard. CT Tung received their tanker on time.  
On March 23, Hyundai Heavy Industries established. Specializing in Shipbuilding, offshore & Engineering and Industrial Plant & Engineering. Founder Chung Ju-Yung takes his first shipbuilding order for Hong Kong trade giant CT Tung, before even building his ship yard. CT Tung received their tanker on time.  
Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. Established in April.  
The Korean government formulated The Long-Term Plan for Promotion of the Automobile Industry and ordered four automobile companies to submit detailed plans to develop Korean cars by 1975. Hyundai being one of these companies. The others were Daewoo, Kia and Ssangyong.  
Hyundai submits its master plan for a new plant with a capacity of 80,000 “Korean” cars. (Note: Actual production for the year was 5,426 cars.  
Hyundai approaches 26 firms in five countries to acquire different technologies. (10 firms in Japan and Italy for car design. 4 firms in Japan and the United States for stamping shop equipment. 5 firms in the United Kingdom and Germany for casting and forging plants. 2 Firms in Japan and U.K. for engines and 5 U.S. and U.K firms for an integrated parts/components plant.  
Hyundai enters into a licensing agreement with Giorgio Giugiaro’s ItalDesign for body styling and design.  
Hyundai enters into licensing agreement with Mitsubishi for gasoline engine, transmission, rear axle designs and casting technology.  
Hyundai Engineering Co. and Hyundai Motor Services Co. are set up in February.  
Hyundai hires former British Leyland Motor Corp., Ltd president George Turnbull as its vice president and six other British technical experts for a three year period (1974-1977) for the successful development of its first indigenous model, the Pony.  
Subcompact car Pony, Korea's first independently designed and manufactured model, unveiled at the 55th Turin International Motor Fair. (The engine, transmission and suspension were all from a previous model of the Mitsubishi Lancer and the exterior design by Giugiaro’s ItalDesign studios.)  
Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co. founded in April.  
The Pony (with 90% domestic content) makes Korea the second nation in Asia to have its own domestic automobile, starts production.  
Hyundai Heavy Industries wins over 900 million in construction contracts with Saudi Arabia to build a port at Jubail.  
The Pony model cars, the nation’s first vehicle model, are officially released in January.  
First Pony exported.  
Establishment of Korea Industrial Development Co. and Asia Merchant Marine Co. in March, Asia Merchant Marine is later renamed, Hyundai Merchant Marine.  
Hyundai Corp established in December.  
Hyundai completes the construction of the Jubail, Saudi Arabia port worth $930 million. Chung saved money by using Korean parts and not insuring the shipments, risking ruin, but the gamble paid off, making Hyundai a major player in Middle East construction.  
The British engineers that help Hyundai develop the Pony left the company and Hyundai uses moonlighting Japanese engineers to troubleshoot problems.  
Chung Ju-yung is appointed chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries and leads the organization until 1987.  
Chung Ju-yung establishes Asan Foundation as well as the Hyundai Oil Refinery in July.  
Acquisition of Gukil Securities and the foundation of Hyundai Securities in November.  
Hyundai starts working on the Sosan reclamation project, Chungchong-namdo, in August. Finishes in August 1995.  
Started sales of 11-ton cargo and dump trucks.  
Granada (6-cylinder) debut.  
Hyundai Machine Tools (a branch of the Hyundai Motor Group) established.  
Assembly Plant in Canada established.  



[1] Korea’s education system consists of six-year primary schools, three-year middle schools, three-year high schools and various institutions of higher learning and vocational studies. See here for further info.

[2] This event led to a life long guilt that later prompted him to send 500 heads of cattle to the North (Koreans) as a humanitarian gesture in 1998.

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This site was last updated 11/23/05