SEOUL -- South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group said Friday it had appointed the group's heir apparent as Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, setting the stage for the aging chairman to pass the baton to his son.
The appointment will have Chung Euisun, already vice chairman of the auto company, supporting his 80-year-old father Chung Mong-koo, in a clear sign that the younger Chung is being groomed to take over one of the country's biggest chaebol, or family business empires.
Hyundai said Friday it promoted Chung Euisun in order to improve its ability to respond to growing troubles facing management, such as tangled international trade problems, as the auto industry enters a period of upheaval.
The younger Chung earned a degree from the school of management at the University of San Francisco in the U.S. state of California before joining Hyundai in 1999. The next year, he became an executive and began learning how to administrate the business empire at his father's side. He is credited with elevating the automaker's Genesis luxury brand, as well as getting troubled group member Kia Motors back on its feet.
There have long been expectaions that Chung Euisun will eventually take over his father's position. Some South Korean media speculated that Friday's appointment was partly prompted by the chairman's health, though Hyundai maintains that Chung Mong-koo is healthy.
Hyundai's fellow chaebol are likewise passing the reins to a new generation. After LG Group's third chairman, Koo Bon-moo, died in May, the group appointed his adopted son Koo Kwang-mo to the top position.