Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Korea's Elite Families Focus of Media Attention

America "Royalty" tends to be sports and Hollywood celebrities. The antics of Hollywoods "A" list can at times dominate American media. Koreans tends to watch the families of Korean top conglomerates. For decades the Lee family ( Samsung) and the Chung family (Hyundai) have attracted much attention. In fact, the Samsung and Hyundai founders were the subject semi-fictional movie.

This article highlights the popularity of Korean's elite families...

News reports on the recent announcement of the intended marriage of television personality Noh Hyun-jong to Chung Dae-sun, a grandson of the late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, have become the talk of the town.

Prominent among those who court personalities, beauty queens and stars are the children of Hyundai and Samsung, two of the major growth engines of the economy over the past few decades. The marriage patterns of the two chaebol, however, look as varied as the number of their affiliates. Some smack of ``strategic marriages with the offspring of families owning other chaebol, while others are unions with ``ordinary people.

Not all of chaebol'?s marriages end up as ``happily ever after fairy tales though _ there are divorces, unrequited loves and at least one suicide that rumors say resulted from a case similar to ``Romeo and Juliet.?

Few people know the background of the wives of Hyundai Automotive Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, the Hyundai founder?s second son, or Hyundai Department Store Chairman Chung Mong-keon, the third son. The founders only son-in-law was an ordinary worker of Hyundai Engineering & Construction.

Citing the upcoming marriage, a Hyundai official said, ``The talk between Noh and Chung Dae-sun cannot be an unprecedented shock to the Hyundai family.

On the suicide story, rumors abound that Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee refused to allow his youngest daughter, Lee Yun-hyung to marry an ``ordinary? man. She committed suicide in New York last year.

While Samsung initially said Yun-hyung had died in a car accident, foreign media reported the 26-year-old killed herself after being forbidden by her father to marry the man she loved.

Lee'?s only son Jae-yong, a Samsung Group executive, married a daughter from the Daesang Group family.

Meanwhile, Shinsegae Group vice president Chung Yong-jin was divorced by Ko Hyun-jung, a renowned actress and a former Miss Korea beauty pageant winner. Chung is a nephew of Samsung chairman Lee.

The main reason for the divorce was reportedly discord caused by their opposing personalities. Ko received a 1.5-billion won settlement from Chung who retains custody of their two children.

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