Chung Mong-gyu to Remain as "Chairman" Even after Stepping Down from Management

Ryu In-ha, Lee Hye-ri, Kang Hyun-suk 2022. 1. 18. 16:30
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He Lowered His Head, But...: Chung Mong-gyu (center), chairman of Hyundai Development Company (HDC) apologizes to the nation after announcing that he would take full responsibility for the accident at the Hwajeong IPark construction site and resign as chairman at the company’s Yongsan office in Seoul on January 17. Lee Suck-woo

Chung Mong-gyu, the chairman of Hyundai Development Company (HDC) resigned as chairman for the accident in Gwangju. However, he will remain chairman of the holdings company (group). The decision is likely to trigger further criticism that Chung only acknowledged partial responsibility.

Yoo Byung-kyu, president of HDC Hyundai Development and Ha Won-gi, the company’s executive director, were present at the press conference, but there was no mention of their future course of action.

On January 17, Chung Mong-gyu held a press conference at the HDC Hyundai Development building in Yongsan-gu, Seoul and announced, “I fully accept my responsibility for the two incidents that occurred in Gwangju, and from this moment, I will step down as chairman of Hyundai Development Company.” Chung took full responsibility and resigned six days after the outer wall collapsed at the construction site of the Hwajeong IPark complex. However, Chung will retain his status as the major shareholder of HDC Hyundai Development. Chung said, “I fully realize my responsibility as CEO and resign as chairman. But I will continue to fulfill my duties and responsibilities as a major shareholder.” He also said, “I do not think I am trying to evade responsibility by stepping down,” and added, “At present, thoroughly identifying the cause of the accident and taking measures accordingly is top priority.”

HDC Hyundai Development decided to drastically extend its warranty period for any structural safety defects, including apartment frameworks, to thirty years. Currently, the legal warranty period for structural safety defects is ten years.

This afternoon, Chung visited a tent temporarily set up for the families of the missing workers. The victims’ families poured out complaints at Chung during the visit. One family member said, “If HDC Hyundai Development cannot take part in the search operation, then get out.” Another person said, “It’s been days since the accident occurred. I don’t see what you’re trying to do by showing up now,” and criticized Chung for being slow to meet the workers’ families. Chung left the tent after speaking with the workers’ families for about five minutes this day.

The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced that it would conduct a special inspection of twelve construction sites overseen by HDC Hyundai Development beginning this day to prevent major accidents like the one in Gwangju. HDC is currently overseeing 82 construction sites, but the ministry excluded 67 of these sites for construction had yet to be launched. Among the sites where construction had begun, the ministry selected sites that involved the construction of high-rise apartments and where work on the building’s framework was underway, as in the case of the Gwangju site where the accident occurred. The ministry selected twelve sites where 50-70% of the construction work was completed.

The police booked nine more people including the supervisor and workers at the HDC field office on site. The investigation division of the Gwangju Metropolitan Police announced that they charged five manager-level workers overseeing construction and safety management, such as the director of management and the director of safety at the HDC field office, for involuntary manslaughter in the workplace. The police also charged the director of the field office of a partner firm--a contractor involved in the rebar and concrete work--for the same crime. Three supervisors in charge of supervising the accident site were booked for violating the Building Act. So far, a total of ten people have been criminally charged in connection to this accident.

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