Daewoo


Daewoo literally "Great Woo", after the first name of founder and chairman Kim Woo-jung) or the Daewoo Group was a major South Korean chaebol (type of conglomerate) and car manufacturer.
The third and fourth of the five-year plans occurred from 1973 to 1981. During this period, the country's labor force was in high demand. Competition from other countries began eroding Korea's competitive edge. The government responded to this change by concentrating its efforts on mechanical and electrical engineering, shipbuilding, petrochemicals, construction, and military initiatives. At the end of this period, the government forced Daewoo into shipbuilding. Kim was reluctant to enter this industry, but Daewoo soon earned a reputation for producing competitively priced ships and oil rigs.
By 1999, Daewoo, the second largest conglomerate in South Korea with interests in about 100 countries, went bankrupt, with debts of about US$50 billion ($75 billion today).
Soon after the demise, Chairman Kim Woo-Jung fled to Vietnam, and former Daewoo factory workers put up "Wanted" posters with his picture. Kim returned to Korea in June 2005 and was promptly arrested. He was charged with masterminding accounting fraud of 41 trillion won (US$43.4 billion), illegally borrowing 9.8 trillion won (US$10.3 billion), and smuggling US$3.2 billion out of the country, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. On 30 May 2006, Kim was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of fraud and embezzlement. On the last day of the trial, Kim tearfully addressed the court, "I cannot dodge my responsibility of wrongly buttoning up the final button of fate."
Michael Schuman of Time stated that while Daewoo's demise had significant consequences, it would have nonetheless been better than propping it up with fresh funds. There was a persistence of the belief that Daewoo and other Korean conglomerates were "too big to fail". Such belief led many bankers and investors to continually waste money on bailouts, despite the sign that Daewoo was unable to engineer a turnaround and repay these bad loans. Once the too-big-to-fail perception was dispelled, with large conglomerates no longer considered the safest investments, bankers and investors began financing new opportunities in areas which had been starved of capital, such as small firms, entrepreneurs and consumers. Korea's GDP actually rose after Daewoo's unwinding.