Choi Yong-mook (picture), the head of the Hyundai Groups corporate strategy team and CEO of Hyundai Elevator, resigned as the head of corporate strategy team on October 27.
Choi, the closest executive to chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun of Hyundai Group, led the internal investigations in the corrupt acts of former vice president of Hyundai Asan, Kim Yoon-gyu.
The Hyundai Group stated that Choi took the responsibility for the internal audit files leak and handed in his resignation, which chairwoman Hyun accepted. However, Choi will retain his position as the CEO of Hyundai Elevator.
Hyundai has decided to disperse its corporate strategy team and restructure its organization by first strengthening the functions of the chairwomans secretarial office.
Hyundai stated in an official statement, Choi resigned from his position to take responsibility for the fact that he was negligent in managing corporate information. We are not following the North Koreas request that we clear close personnel.
However, many view this as a desperate attempt of the group to resolve the problems with North Korea concerning the Mt. Geumgang tourism project. These problems with North Korea surfaced since the Kim Yoon-gyu incident.
Chairwoman Hyun, so far, has held her ground against North Koreas unreasonable requests, including management interference. However, in order to continue the Mt. Geumgang project, it would have been difficult for Hyun to ignore the request from the North to take care of the high-level executives concerned in the Kim Yoon-gyu incident.
Choi supported Hyun and gained Hyuns trust during the battle for management between Hyundai Elevator and KCC in 2003 and 2004.
However, after Choi led the investigation of Kim Yoon-gyu, he was warily watched by North Korea and is known to be prohibited from entering North Korea along with Yoon Man-jun, the president of Hyundai Asan.
Hyundai emphasized that Chois resignation does not mean former vice president Kim will return to his position. The issue with Kim has been fully resolved, to the extent that even North Korea cannot make an issue out of the matter, read a statement from the company.
With this incident, Hyundai and North Korea will be able to start negotiations, but depending on North Koreas responses, there are still many more obstacles for Hyundais North Korean tourism projects, such as Gaesong and Mt. Baekdu.
Hyundai stated that they proposed a meeting in early November between chairwoman Hyun and Lee Jong Hyuk, vice commissioner of North Korea Asia Pacific Peace Commission, to discuss the Mt. Geumgang project.