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Hyundai Motor chair wins top UK royal honor

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun has received the Order of the British Empire from Britain's King Charles III, the carmaker said Wednesday.

Among the five classes of the order, Chung was awarded the Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Colin Crooks, British ambassador to the Republic of Korea, delivered the medal on behalf of the king at the British Embassy in Seoul.

Chung was recognized for his accomplishments in low-carbon mobility expansion and his yearslong sponsorship of the Tate Britain, one of the most renowned museums for British art, according to Hyundai.

“I believe I was bestowed with the Order of the British Empire for contributing to the alliance and friendship of Korea and the UK. Hyundai Motor Group will continue to strengthen the bilateral ties in future business, culture and art, and sports,” said Chung, in his acceptance speech.

From January to October this year, the company sold a total of 173,000 vehicles in the country, an 8.7 percent jump compared to a year earlier, holding a 9.2 percent market share.

Its electric vehicles sold 28,000 units in the same period, becoming the No. 3 EV brand following Tesla and Volkswagen Group. Hyundai’s flagship electric car model Ioniq 5 and its smaller sibling Kia’s EV6 were selected as the car of the year by the UK’s top car magazines last year.

The company recently joined hands with the UK-based Rolls-Royce, Urban Air Port and local communities like the West Midlands and Coventry in the advanced air mobility business. It plans to co-develop hydrogen fuel cell and battery propeller systems in aircraft and set up infrastructure for air transportation.

As the official sponsor of the Genesis Scottish Open, a professional golf tournament held in the UK, Hyundai said it is also playing a key role in sports diplomacy between Korea and the UK.

The company said Chung became the second Hyundai chairman to have received the award, following the late Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung, the chairman’s grandfather, who was honored with the same title back in 1977.

The late Chung took out a loan from the UK’s Barclays Bank and set up a shipbuilding base in Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province in the early 1970s -- which set up the foundation for HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, one of the largest shipbuilders in the world. He also served as a Korean commissioner for the Korea-UK Economic Cooperation Committee.

Under Chung’s watch, Hyundai Motor Group ventured into the UK with its first car export in 1982.

In addition to the honorary title from the king, Chung Euisun was selected as the person of the year by the US-based car magazine MotorTrend early this year. Last year, he won the visionary of the year title for his speech in the World’s Greatest Auto Disruptors hosted by the US Newsweek. Chung was also awarded the most prestigious Issigonis Trophy from the UK’s car magazine, Autocar, in 2021.

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