Fortune and men's eyes

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Feb 23 08:22:53 MST 2001

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
>From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Shakespeare, sonnet number 29


Business Week, December 15, 1986


By Laxmi Nakarmi in Seoul, with William J. Holstein in New York


One is a jet-setting former textile salesman who loves action novels. The
other is an old-fashioned autocrat who brooks no dissent from his
subordinates. Both are self-made tycoons who built their empires from
scratch and who now want to humble archrival Japan by building their
country into an economic superpower. As two of the reigning barons of
Korea's business Establishment, they are in excellent positions to make
their dream come true.

But even though they share a goal, the approaches taken by Daewoo Chairman
Kim Woo-Choong and Hyundai Chairman Chung Ju-Yung are diverging widely.
Chung wants to push ahead with an aggressive, Japanese-style export
strategy. Kim, concerned about an anti-Korean backlash, believes the only
way his nation can succeed is through partnerships with the West.

HOUSEHOLD NAME. Other major Korean conglomerates, such as Samsung and
Lucky-Goldstar, as well as smaller ones such as Ssangyong and Sunkyong, are
watching the Hyundai-Daewoo duel for clues on whether they should go it
alone in the U.S. or seek more joint ventures. Because the top 30
conglomerates, or chaebol, account for about a quarter of Korea's gross
domestic product, their choices will determine Korea's future direction.
"The next 10 years will be very critical for Korea," Chung said in a rare
interview. "If we can't bring our country up to the level of advanced
countries, we may not get another chance."


NY Times, February 23, 2001

For Daewoo's Founder, Pride Before the Fall

By DON KIRK of the International Herald Tribune

SEOUL, South Korea, Feb. 22 - A decade ago, a Fortune magazine writer wrote
in an introduction to Kim Woo Choong's book "Every Street Is Paved With
Gold" that Mr. Kim, the founder of the Daewoo industrial empire,
"personifies the drive and imagination that makes East Asia a dynamic
center of economic growth."

The posters now pasted on the walls of Daewoo factories put it quite
differently. "Wanted," they say of the man who once commanded South Korea's
third-largest chaebol, or conglomerate. The workers, who have orchestrated
loud protests against job-cutting plans at the Daewoo Motor Company, accuse
Mr. Kim of mismanagement that they say has threatened their livelihoods
since the collapse of the group in 1999.

Although Mr. Kim has not been charged with any crimes, officials say they
are eager to question him about the financial dealings that resulted in
indictments this week against 34 of his former subordinates.

First, they will have to find him. Mr. Kim fled the country in late 1999,
shortly after his empire crashed. From his initial exile post in Frankfurt,
he submitted his resignation from all Daewoo group companies. He has left
no clue as to his whereabouts since then.

The meteoric rise of Mr. Kim as one of Korea's most powerful tycoons and
his equally spectacular fall have come to symbolize both the Korean miracle
and the prolonged crisis that threatened to blow it all apart in 1997 and
that still hangs over the economic landscape.

"He was very aggressive," said Lee Sung Hee, the director general in charge
of the investigation into the intricate web that Mr. Kim spun as chairman
of the group that he founded as a textile company 34 years ago. "Many
people thought he contributed to the Korean economy, but his way of
business was flawed."

Just how flawed it was become apparent in mid-1999, when Mr. Kim had to
acknowledge that his companies, which had acquired a global reach in a
debt-fueled expansion binge, could not pay their creditors. By the time the
banks that took over the Daewoo group had calculated $80 billion in
liabilities, Mr. Kim was reportedly changing addresses in Europe.

"What this crisis is teaching us is that the Korean chaebol that tried to
operate as he did historically - through debt financing and massive
overinvesting - will fail," said an international financial expert who
insisted on anonymity.

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