Chung Se Yung
A warm and engaging man who smiled easily and had a quick mind, he wasn't afraid to be interviewed by American reporters in English, a second language.
Born in 1928 in northern Korea, Chung studied diplomacy at Korea University and then got a master's degree in political science at Miami University in 1957.
After working in family companies, he helped launch Hyundai Motor Co. in 1967 and was named its president.
One of his most important early efforts was to turn Hyundai into an independent auto producer, rather than an assembler of other models.
In the early 1970s he hired Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro to pen the subcompact Pony, which was Hyundai's first proprietary design. The car debuted at the Turin Motor Fair in 1974, and was followed by other Hyundai designs.
In 1984, Chung launched Korea's entry into the North American market, starting with sales of the Pony in Canada. Two years later, sales of the Excel subcompact began in the United States.
In 1987, Chung was named chairman of Hyundai Motor. In 1996, he stepped aside as chairman in favor of his son, Chung Mong Gyu, and was named honorary chairman.
His career had an unhappy ending however. In 1999, he and his son were both forced out amid differences among family shareholders.
Chung ended up trading his 8.3 percent stake in Hyundai Motor for a 37.7 percent stake in Hyundai Development Co., one of Korea's biggest construction concerns.
He became honorary chairman at Hyundai Development. He still held the post when he died the day after Hyundai Motor opened its first U.S. plant at Montgomery, Ala.
Automotive News, in its 1995 list of automotive All Stars, named Chung the top executive in Asia for his success in taking advantage of the Japanese exchange rate to improve Hyundai's market position, and for developing new products that relied less on cast-off Japanese platforms.
Chung's passing elicited a rare message of condolence from North Korea.