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Family, business leaders mourn Hyosung honorary chairman

By Jo He-rim

Published : March 31, 2024 - 17:10

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A funeral altar set up for Cho Suck-rai, former honorary chairman of Hyosung Group, set up at Severance Hospital in Seoul on Saturday. Cho died of a chronic illness Friday at the age of 89. (Yonhap) A funeral altar set up for Cho Suck-rai, former honorary chairman of Hyosung Group, set up at Severance Hospital in Seoul on Saturday. Cho died of a chronic illness Friday at the age of 89. (Yonhap)

Business leaders joined relatives to mourn the death of Cho Suck-rai, the honorary chairman of Hyosung Group, a textile giant, on Sunday. Cho died of a chronic illness Friday at the age of 89.

Cho led the textile giant from 1982 until 2017, when he stepped down from the top management position due to health issues. His eldest son, Cho Hyun-joon took the baton to lead the conglomerate.

On Saturday, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong and his mother Hong Ra-hee paid respect for Cho at the funeral altar set up at Severance Hospital in Seoul, marking the first visit by a business leader outside the family of the late honorary chairman.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (right) and his mother Hong Ra-hee, former director of Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, visit the funeral altar for Cho Suck-rai, late former honorary chairman of Hyosung Group, set up at Severance Hospital in Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap) Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (right) and his mother Hong Ra-hee, former director of Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, visit the funeral altar for Cho Suck-rai, late former honorary chairman of Hyosung Group, set up at Severance Hospital in Seoul on Saturday. (Yonhap)

Lee and Cho Hyun-joon are close friends, both born in 1968 and studying together at Keio University in Japan.

When Lee’s father Lee Kun-hee passed away in October 2020, Cho visited the funeral to pay respect for two days in a row. At the time, Cho recalled the late former Samsung chief as a "warm-hearted" man, telling the story of Lee giving him two dogs as a gift.

Hong stayed for over two hours and offered condolences to Song Kwang-ja, Cho’s wife. Hong and Song are university alumni, both having studied fine arts at Seoul National University.

Lee's sister Lee Seo-hyun, who was promoted to president of Samsung C&T to be in charge of the company's strategy planning the day before, also paid tribute with her husband Kim Jae-youl, president of Samsung Economic Research Institute.

Individual ties aside, Samsung and Hyosung share a long history, beginning with their respective founders. Late Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chul and late Hyosung founder Cho Hong-je -- the late honorary chairman's father -- graduated from the same elementary school in South Gyeongsang Province and also studied at Waseda University in Tokyo.

They established a corporate entity that is now Samsung C&T in 1948. Cho later separated to establish the Hyosung Corporation in 1962.

At the funeral, the late honorary chairman's younger son Cho Hyun-moon, who severed relations with the family after initiating a high-profile power struggle for management control with his older brother, also visited the funeral altar to pay respect. His visit ended shortly in about 6 minutes.

Other business leaders and political figures also paid respect to Cho.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun paid tribute to Cho with his wife Chung Ji-sun.

"(Cho) was a good man. He was very nice to me," Chung told reporters after staying at the altar for about 40 minutes.

SK Supex Council Chairman Chey Chang-won, the cousin of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, also visited as well.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon also paid tribute.

While they did not visit the funeral altar in person, President Yoon Suk Yeol and former president Lee Myung-bak also sent funeral wreaths to pay respect to the late honorary chairman.

Leading Hyosung Group for 35 years, late Cho introduced many technological innovations to boost the country's textile industry. He also received the Gold Tower Order of Industrial Service Merit, the highest honor in the field awarded by the South Korean government, in 1987.

Cho also served as the chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, a leading business lobby group, for four years from 2007.