From Korea, with love

Head diplomat Lee happy to see brands on roads

Friday, May 18, 2018

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YOUNG G Lee, head of mission at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Jamaica, says he's pleased to see so many of his country's vehicles on the island's roads.

The chargé d'affaires, who is more than a year into his tour of duty, paid a courtesy call on the Jamaica Observer's Beechwood Avenue offices in St Andrew last Monday.

“About 10 years ago, (South) Koreans produced cars that weren't competitive in the global space. But nowadays, Kia and Hyundai are popular not only in Jamaica but the whole world,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

Hyundai Group is a multinational (conglomerate) headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It was founded by Chung Ju-yung in 1947 as a construction firm, while Hyundai Motor Company was founded in 1967.

Hyundai operates in Ulsan, the world's largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility, which is capable of producing 1.6 million units annually. The company employs about 75,000 people around the world. Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries through some 6,000 dealerships and showrooms worldwide. In 2012, Hyundai sold over 4.4 million vehicles worldwide. Popular models include the Sonata and Elantra mid-sized sedans.

Kia Motor Corporation — also headquartered in Seoul — is South Korea's second-largest automobile manufacturer, following the Hyundai Motor Company, with sales of over 3.3 million vehicles in 2015.

As of December 2015, the Kia Motor Corporation is minority owned by Hyundai, which owns a 33.88 per cent stake valued at just over US$6 billion. Kia in turn is a minority owner of more than 20 Hyundai subsidiaries ranging from 4.9 per cent up to 45.37 per cent totalling more than US$8.3 billion.

Locally, Kia vehicles are part of the Adam Stewart-led ATL Automotive suite of offerings and boasts a state-of-the-art showroom on Oxford Road in Kingston.

The Hope Road-based Magna Motors Limited manages the Hyundai brand.

Lee said both brands' “cutting-edge technology” made them desirable and he attributes it to the country's high-quality education system.

“Not only Hyundai and Kia but Samsung.. It is the high-quality manpower that makes the difference. So the big conglomerates benefit from the education system,” said Young.

And what vehicle does he drive?

“A Hyundai Santa Fe,” Young said proudly.

— Brian Bonitto

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