Hyundai Motor finally reaches settlements with the whistleblower after Newstapa investigations

Oct. 17, 2023, 02:00 PM.

One of the reasons Hyundai Motor Group staged a fake rally in front of its headquarters and disrupted other rallies and protests was to protect the feelings of Hyundai Motor’s senior executives, KCIJ-Newstapa found.
KCIJ-Newstapa obtained a copy of Hyundai Motor’s work guidelines. The work manual listed out four specific locations where Hyundai Motor must prevent strangers from rallying and protesting. For one of these locations (the ‘Hanaro’ area), the manual explained that problems were caused “every time VIPs (Hyundai Motor Group’s high executives) commuted.” 
In the guidelines, four spots around Hyundai Motor Group headquarters buildings (▲Monument sign, ▲Hanaro Mart, ▲Yeomgok, and ▲Traffic light) are marked as key areas where the security contractors must block strangers from rallying and protesting. (See photo below)
In August, KCIJ-Newstapa obtained an excerpt of mobile messenger group chat room conversations, where Hyundai Motor's fake rally contractors reported real time of what is going on with the protestors near the headquarters buildings. 
The announcement in the KakaoTalk group chat room included a list of ‘work precautions.’ It was a de facto guideline that instructed the security contractors to report to the executives of the security service company and Hyundai Motor's security team as soon as they identify whereabouts of Park Mee-hee, the Kia Motors dealership store whistleblower who had been holding rallies and protests in front of the headquarters, or union officials. (Related article: [Hyundai Motor’s Fake Rally] ②Surveillance Results Reported to 82-2-3464-2000, Hyundai Motor Security Team
Hyundai Motor picked four locations around its headquarters buildings and instructed its fake rally contractors to block Park Mee-hee, the Kia Motors dealership store whistleblower, or any of the union officials if they try to hold a rally in these areas.

“Every time VIPs commuted”... The reason behind Hyundai Motor’s fake rally

According to the ‘work precautions,’ the most important area to block rallies and protests is the monument sign, which is engraved with Hyundai Motor Group's logo and mission, located at the entrance to the group headquarters. 
The guideline writes to the security contractors to “prevent anyone from going up to the monument and to back up the security team when union members or others break through their security line to the entrance.” 
It instructs the security contractors to stop anyone from the protests or rallies who try to approach the monument. This means that the Hyundai Motor security team has a plan in place to back up if such a situation arises.
Hyundai Motor Group’s ‘work precautions’ guideline picked the ‘Monument sign’ in front of the headquarters as the most important area to protect from any attempts of rallies and protests. Located at the entrance, the monument is engraved with the Group's logo and mission.
Another area to be secured by the security contractors is the so-called ‘Hanaro Mart.’ It refers to a 10-meter section of sidewalk between the back entrance of Hanaro Mart Yangjae Branch and the main entrance of Hyundai Motor Group headquarters. The guideline instructs the contractors to prevent strangers from holding rallies and protests in this area.
The ‘work precautions’ guideline designated the so-called ‘Hanaro Mart’ zone, a 10-meter stretch of sidewalk between the entrance to Hyundai Motor's headquarters and the back door of the Hanaro Mart Yangjae Branch, as a mandatory area to block any rallyists or protestors from approaching. In 2016, a Seoul court ordered that Hyundai Motor should not interfere with Park’s rallies and protests in this area.
The ‘Hanaro Mart’ area is where the Kia Motors dealership store whistleblower, Park, first began her one-person protest in October 2013, demanding reinstatement to her job at the dealership store. Park's protest tent was once located here. 
In 2016, she filed an injunction request to Seoul Central District Court against Hyundai Motor to prevent the company from interfering with her protest by occupying the site around the clock. The court sided with Park. The court ordered that the company should not interfere with Park's rallies and protests in the 10-meter section of the sidewalk – the Hanaro Mart area.
“The spot where Mee-hee’s tent (protest tent) was formerly located (the ‘Hanaro Mart’ area) was a subject of complaints every time the VIPs (Hyundai Motor Group’s senior executives) commuted,” the guideline wrote.
This suggests that the so-called ‘VIPs,’ those senior executives of Hyundai Motor Group, expressed their displeasure with Park's protest right next to the company’s main entrance, and it was the reason why the rally contractors began to occupy the area. 
The guideline states that the contractors must prevent “Mee-hee from putting up any more banners or tents nearby (the Hanaro Mart area) and must preemptively occupy the area with banners so that she can't protest there.” 
The third place that the ‘work precautions’ guideline lists as a must-protect zone is ‘Yeomgok,’ which refers to the Yeomgok intersection that lies around Hyundai Motor Group headquarters. Park had a protest tent at the intersection until the Seocho District office took it apart in mid-July for its administrative enforcement action. 
At this location, the rally service contractors were instructed to “report immediately if Mee-hee brings in more tents or protest materials to block her, and report the whereabouts of union officials if they appear.”
The ‘work precautions’ guideline designated ‘Yeomgok’ as one of four rally blocking areas. The location refers to Yeomgok intersection, which is located around the Hyundai Motor Group headquarters. Before Seocho District Office's administrative enforcement action in July, Park Mee-hee's protest tent was standing after passing the crosswalk in the photo.
The fourth rally blocking area is the ‘Traffic light,’ located adjacent to the highway interchange (IC) and across the street from public offices and a wholesale flower market. Thus, the location is busy with traffic and pedestrians all day, which makes rallyists put up their banners to show as many passersby as possible. 
The guideline instructs the security contractors that rallies and protests should be discouraged in this area. In fact, usually more than five security contractors, more than other key spots, are allocated in the area.
The fourth area that the guideline designated to guard is the so-called ‘Traffic Light’ area, where vehicles coming from the Yangjae Interchange (IC) drive into the city with the Hyundai Motor Group headquarters on their right. State-run agency buildings and a flower wholesale market are located nearby, so there are a lot of cars and pedestrians throughout the day.

Hyundai Motor reached settlement with whistleblower Park Mee-hee after Newstapa investigations on ‘fake rally’

The ‘work precautions’ guideline identified in the KakaoTalk group chat room clearly shows why Hyundai Motor’s security service contractors have been occupying the nearby area around the group’s headquarters for the past decade around the clock. All was at the behest and will of the chaebol group.
Changes occurred since KCIJ-Newstapa reported on the group of young men in black outfit, who occupy sidewalks surrounding Hyundai Motor Group’s headquarters and the group's fake rallies that mobilized them. 
In September, Kia Motors dealership store whistleblower Park Mee-hee, who had been disrupted of her rallies and surveilled by security service workers outside Hyundai Motor headquarters, reached a dramatic settlement with the group. The dealership store, where she worked before, has closed down, so she couldn’t get reinstated. However, she was reportedly compensated for the time she was unemployed due to unfair dismissal.
Once Park ceased her struggle against Hyundai Motor Group, the number of young security contractors deployed around the headquarters buildings was noticeably reduced to five or six, from the previous 30 or more.
However, the security contractors disguised as voluntary rally participants are still standing there. The number could increase again any time in the future, depending on the company’s needs. It means that there could be a second or third Park Mee-hee who suffers from rally disruptions and civilian surveillance, unless the chaebol group decides to completely stop its illegal fake rallies.
KCIJ-Newstapa asked Hyundai Motor Group if it plans to end the fake rallies in front of its headquarters, but the company did not respond before publication. 
Young men in black are still standing in front of the headquarters buildings today.
ReportingKim Ji-yoon and Hong Woo-ram
DesignLee Do-hyeon
Publication Heo Hyeon-jae