SEOUL The younger brother of Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman Chung Mong-Koo leapt to his death from a 12th-story office in the Hyundai building in central Seoul on Monday.
Chung Mong-Hun, 55, chairman of Hyundai Asan Corp. and former chairman of the now dismantled Hyundai Group, was believed to be distraught over his pending trial on charges of participating in illegal currency transfers to North Korea.
Police said Chungs body was found in the central courtyard of the building shortly after 6 a.m., and that two windows in his office were open. Chungs company issued a statement saying, He apologized to the Korean people because of the allegations related to the payment of funds from the company to North Korea.
The deceased was one of eight sons of group founder Chung Ju-Yung. Three have died, two by suicide.
The deceased executive had been spearheading business projects in North Korea as an attempt to foster reunification of the two Koreas. But prosecutors allege he and government accomplices illegally funneled more than $500 million to North Korea as a bribe for agreeing to a historic summit meeting in 2000.
Chung had been questioned three times by prosecutors in the last two weeks and was also accused of embezzling $12.7 million in company funds.
A spokesman for Hyundai Motor, whose headquarters is several miles from the Hyundai building, said the company would have no comment on Chungs death. Family members, including the Hyundai Motor chairman, had gathered at the hospital where the body was taken, he said.
After M.K. Chung lost a battle for control of Hyundai Group to his brother in 2000, he broke Hyundai Motor away into a standalone company. But the automaker still retained minority stakes in other Hyundai companies, including Asan.
Separately, Hyundai Motor said it met with union negotiators again Monday in contract talks but that no progress was made. Hyundai says it has lost 102,000 units of production valued at $1.1 billion since its 39,000 union workers began a series of part-day walkouts on June 20.