SEOUL - The Hyundai Group late last week shook up the top ranks of its core auto business in a realignment that carried overtones of an intrafamily rivalry.
The moves give the founder's son direct control of the group's core auto business, which had been controlled by his uncle and, later, by his cousin.
Under the realignment, group Chairman Chung Mong-Koo, the eldest son of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-Yung, was named concurrent chairman of Hyundai Motor Co. and the newly acquired Kia Motors Corp.
He replaces 36-year-old Chung Mong-Gyu, his cousin, who becomes vice chairman of the auto unit.
Ju-Yung, who founded the group in 1948, later gave control of Hyundai Motor to his younger brother, Chung Se-Yung. He, in turn, passed the reins to his Oxford-educated son, Mong-Gyu, in January 1996.
Now, in what appears to be a recognition of the need for a more mature hand on the tiller during difficult times, the 60-year-old Mong-Koo has nudged aside his cousin.
'Chung Mong-Koo will be responsible for all automobile manufacturing at Hyundai and Kia, although Kia will be operated as a separate corporation,' said Park Se-Yong, chief of the group's restructuring committee.
In other personnel moves:
Lee Bang-Joo, former vice president of Hyundai Motor, was promoted to president.
Lee Kye-Ahn, vice president of the management strategy team of Hyundai Group, was named president and coordinator of the new automobile division, encompassing the two automakers.
Kim Soo-Joon, former head of domestic operations for Hyundai Motor, was named president of Kia Motors.
Lee Yoo-Il, the former Hyundai Motor America president, retains his title as president of Hyundai Motor international operations.