The chairman's office at Hyundai Group was not big enough for sibling rivals Chung Mong-Koo and Chung mong-Hun.
Elder brother Mong-Koo, 52, was deposed but remains chairman of Hyundai Motor Co.The brothers had shared the title of co-chairman. Mong-Koo's share of the empire includes Hyundai Motor, Hyundai Motor Services, Kia Motors and parts maker Hyundai Precision & Industry. Mong-Hun, 51, holds sway over the group's financial services, construction and electronics divisions. Those units account for 70 percent of the group's revenue.
For decades, the Chungs have managed to keep family affairs out of the glare of the media spotlight, largely because of the stern hand of the patriarch and founder, 85-year-old Chung Ju-Yung. With the founder's health failing, however, the succession battle has spilled into the public eye. As the oldest of seven sons, Mong-Koo was the heir apparent under Confucian tradition, even though younger brother Mong-Hun is widely regarded as the more capable. Reluctant to pick favorites among his sons, the eldest Chung straddled the fence by appointing the two as co-chairman last year. However, the power-sharing formula proved unworkable and triggered the struggle for the helm.
The handling of the succession was criticized as an example of the need for corporate reform among Korea's largest conglomerates. Said Finance and Economy Minister Lee Hun-hain: 'The way that Hyundai has gone about selecting its chairman is like something out of a sweatshop.'