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In the wake of the downturn, Hyundai Heavy has been selling assets such an employees’ dormitory, and a large foreign community complex it used for clients such as BP and Exxon Mobil and their families, officials say. The foreigners’ complex featured townhouses, a golf course, a swimming pool and school. A spokesman said Hyundai Heavy was doing its utmost to “normalize our company”, working with labor unions to address a lack of work and an idled workforce. Ripples from Hyundai’s struggles spread throughout Ulsan.
Eom Soon-ui runs a small noodle place in a traditional market blocks away from Hyundai Heavy’s headquarters, One recent workday, the market was mostly empty, with about a dozen restaurants as well as uniform shops catering to shipyard workers closed, “Hyundai gold-layered liberty nickel cufflinks makes or breaks for merchants like us, They’re doing poorly, so I’m struggling to make ends meet,” she said, Ulsan accounted for 12 percent of South Korea’s exports last year, the lowest since 2000 and down from its peak of 19 percent in 2008, according to customs data..
The city also has seen a rising number of suicides and now has the highest suicide rate in the country for those aged between 25 and 29, according to Statistics Korea. Ulsan University Hospital, run by Hyundai Heavy, recorded 182 suicide attempts in the first half of this year, compared to about 150 a year earlier, a hospital official said. Taxi drivers have been told by police not to drop people off on Ulsan’s newly built bridge after three people killed themselves there in just one month.
“People believed that if they work hard, they will be better off, and if their children study hard, they will be better off,” said Park Sang-hoon, an official at an Ulsan suicide prevention center, “Confronting a different reality now, it seems that many of them are getting to a point of hopelessness, and some are even making extreme choices.”, After massive shipbuilding job losses, auto workers fear it could be their turn next, Hyundai Motor has been already moving some production offshore, and an internal forecast seen by Reuters shows domestic output is expected to fall to gold-layered liberty nickel cufflinks 37 percent this year, down from nearly 80 percent in 2004..
Executives say that’s necessary because of high labor costs and strong unions at home. But workers say many of Hyundai’s problems are its own making, like failing to forecast a SUV boom in the key U.S. market and missing the shift to electric cars. Hyundai Motors declined to comment for this story. Earlier this year, it pledged to hire 45,000 across the group over the next five years and invest heavily in new businesses including “wearable robots” and artificial intelligence.
However, some experts say South Korea’s reliance on a few powerful chaebol is holding the country back, South Korea’s top 10 conglomerates had revenue equivalent to 66 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2017, By comparison, the combined revenue of America’s top 500 companies was 65 percent of U.S, GDP, according to gold-layered liberty nickel cufflinks Fortune magazine’s annual survey last year, “South Korea’s chaebol have been complacent,” said Lee Dong-gull, the chairman of state-run Korea Development Bank..
Because of their near monopolistic market positions at home, conglomerates have been reluctant to take risks and slower to innovate, Lee said. Faltering in key overseas markets, South Korea forecasts export growth will slow to 5.3 percent in 2018 and 2.5 percent next year, from 15.8 percent last year. That means more pain for Ulsan and other exports hubs. South Korean President Moon designated Ulsan and several other cities as “industrial crisis zones” in May, setting aside 1 trillion won ($890 million) this year to support affected workers and suppliers, and to promote new industries.
Moon says the chaebol-oriented economic policy has reached its limit, and has widened the gap between haves and have-nots, Under a new policy of “innovative growth”, Seoul is boosting investment in fuel cells and self-driving cars, “smart factories” and drones, as well as artificial intelligence, the internet of the things and big data, Long-time Hyundai men say they aren’t feeling benefits of the new policy, Lee, the former Hyundai gold-layered liberty nickel cufflinks Heavy worker, learned painting and molding to do home interior work, but is struggling to find a job because the downturn has also hit the real estate sector..