Eight days before the new car announcement… Hyundai Motor’s designer died

◀ anchor ▶

A team leader-level employee at Hyundai Motor Company’s Namyang Research Center Design Center passed away one year and four months ago.

As a result of the coverage, we have come to the conclusion that this case is not simply a death of an individual, but a death of society.

This is reporter Cha Joo-hyuk.

◀ Report ▶

In September 2020, Hyundai Motor Company unveiled the 4th-generation Tucson to the world at the same time.

[투싼 온라인 공개 행사(2020.9.15.)]

“First mover, Tucson perfectly reflects Hyundai’s design philosophy.”

Chanhee Lee, Senior Researcher, who participated in the design of the Tucson.

He committed suicide eight days before the new car was announced.

A promising designer with a 10-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy.

He was also promoted to a senior researcher at the team leader level.

But I was overworked.

It is said that he worked both at night and on holidays.

[서은영/故 이찬희 씨 아내]

“When I die, I want you to write it on the tombstone, saying that I died while working. The eldest child cried a lot when he heard that.

A record of messages exchanged by Mr. Lee with his wife.

November 17, 2019. This day was a Sunday.

“The child is crying and upset. I don’t go anywhere on the weekend, I just stay at home. What should I do next week?”

Mr. Lee did not answer and did not come home.

the next morning.

“I told you to bring underwear and clothes. It felt like this. The child cried in the morning looking for his father.”


Four days later, I was still awake.

“I’m going to sleep at work today. It’s too late.”

“He was alive.”

[서은영/故 이찬희 씨 아내]

“Whenever you come home, it’s all about the company, and if you look at the contents of KakaoTalk, you won’t be able to come today, what did you do?”

As the new car release date approached, fairs, reports from the center manager, and design revision orders became more frequent.

[현대차 디자인센터 직원 1]

“There are other minimum necessary hours, and I ignore them all and review at 5 o’clock.” See you tomorrow morning. But don’t work overtime. Because we’re professionals.” That doesn’t really make sense.”

One night in January 2020.

Chan-hee Lee suddenly went to the center director’s office and had an interview.

And it happened in the morning.

It is said that he shouted loudly in front of his co-workers who were working overtime.

“This is Chanhee Lee. There are many things I lack. I will do my best.”

[현대자동차 디자인센터 직원 2]

“At that time, I was very shocked and worried about the other people. It was shocking that the person sitting right across the street who could not hear you shouted very loudly in that public place.”

Mr. Lee was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, severe depression, and panic disorder at a psychiatrist, and took a leave of absence for six months.

However, as the date of reinstatement approached, his condition worsened, and domestic violence, which had never been seen before, took place.

[서은영/故 이찬희 씨 아내]

“Really, all the time, I worry about my return to work, and I feel like I will be abandoned. When I think that I don’t understand myself, I start to become violent.”

On September 7, 2020, one month before his reinstatement, Mr. Lee committed suicide.

This is Cha Joo-hyuk from MBC News.

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