Working for Hyundai

Sang Kil Hahn
Sang Kil Hahn

The new Hyundai plant in Montgomery will employ more than 2,000 people once it's up to full capacity. But that's just a fraction of Hyundai's work force world wide.

In Korea, Hyundai is the country's number one employer with more than 50,000 workers. And employees get some pretty impressive benefits.

Hahn Sang Kil is a chief of the OK Line at Hyundai's plant in Assan, South Korea. The OK Line is the plants final quality control center. "Right before the sign off, we check everything," Hahn said.

Hahn has worked Hyundai for more than 20-years. And if you ask him why, you'll get a typical 'guy' response. "I personally like cars and driving," explained.

But that's not all he likes about his job. Hyundai pays 100% of his daughter's college tuition. It's just the first in a long list of benefits.

"Also clothes and food and housing," Hahn said. "Every basic thing is supplied by the company."

Korean Hyundai employees also get free health care and free lunch. The company cooks up to eight tons of rice per day!

It all started years ago when Hyundai founder Chung Ju-Yung owned a single car repair shop. Back then, his wife cooked for his mechanics. "And it has been handed down to this day," explained Hyundai spokesman Jeong Woong Cho.

A few employees were also given the chance to move to the U.S. to work in Montgomery. Hahn turned it down so someone younger could go. But from Korea, he's keeping a close eye on Alabama. And he says has some advice for his state-side colleagues. "I wish everybody who works in Alabama plant will have pride in working for Hyundai and I wish them the best," he said.

About 60 Koreans took Hyundai up on its offer and have since moved to Alabama. But for Hahn, staying put might have been the best choice.

Employees here won't get the same impressive benefits, but they will get the kind of benefits we're accustomed to in the U.S. It's likely they will also get a discount if they choose to buy a Hyundai.

Right now, most of those Montgomery employees are in training. They will be on the job when the plant opens this spring.

Reporter: Mark Bullock