Linguist, lexicographer, writer, editor, broadcaster

A peasant farmer’s son who built world-class industries from scratch

“With no experience, technology, or even a dry dock, Chung decided to try shipbuilding. He went abroad in search of financing. Banks rejected him one after another. Undeterred, at a meeting with Barclays Bank in London, Chung whipped out a 500-won bill, which features a picture of the ironclad ‘turtle ships’ that Koreans built in the 16th century. That’s a full 300 years before the British built metal ships, Chung told the bankers, noting that the cloistered Chosun Dynasty prevented Koreans from reaching their full potential earlier. He got a $50 million loan from Barclays and an order for two 260,000-ton oil tankers from a Greek shipping magnate. Today Hyundai is the world’s biggest shipbuilder.”

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Grant Barrett