Hyundai Workers Head to Korea

"I'm a little nervous because, because I never flew before and I've never been out of the country," says Kelvin Cunningham. For 17 years he had a job at American Candy in Selma. Now he works for Hyundai and is heading to Korea.

"We'll be doing a little recreation while we're doing a little work and learning the process of making cars," he says. This weekend 79 Hyundai employees are leaving Alabama to board a plane for a 14 hour flight that will take them to Hyundai plants in Korea.

The trip means they'll be separated from their loved ones for between 19 to 34 days. Before they return they'll be performing the same jobs in Korea that they'll one day do in Montgomery. Hyundai employee Willie Timmons says, "I'm real excited, looking forward to getting over there and working with our Korean counterparts...and plan on getting a little hands-on training on the vehicles we'll be building."

The workers' preparation may be about to enter the homestretch. They'll go to Korea and come back, then in July they'll go to the newly completed manufacturing plant for the start of pilot production. "Our suppliers will bring their supplies in and we'll start actually putting the cars together. Taking our time making sure that our equipment works and that what our suppliers are providing is exactly right," says Hyundai spokesman Bill Lang.

The Montgomery plant will be similar to ones the Hyundai employees will visit in Korea. The future car makers say they'll learn how to make some of the best vehicles in the world...and sample foreign cuisine. "I heard it's pretty good... And I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on a little bit of it and trying some different foods that I've never eaten before," says Timmons.

While the Alabama workers are heading to Korea, a group of Korean-based Hyundai executives is visiting Montgomery. They are touring visiting the manufacturing plant and employee training center. Almost 11,000 Alabamians from every county of our state have applied for a job at Hyundai. 320 people have been hired so far. The first vehicles will roll off production lines in March of 2005.