Reuters calls it “one of the more bizarre joint ventures in car-making,” and it is coming to an end. South Korea’s Unification Church, better known as the Moonies, is giving up its investment in the one and only carmaker in North Korea, Pyeonghwa Motors. “Giving up” is carefully chosen: The church will walk away from the business, and donate its 70 percent stake to North Korea.
The envy of every chaebol, Sun Myung Moon’s church owns a sprawling conglomerate of companies. It owns everything from United Press International to a company that supplies most of America’s sushi restaurants. The North Korean car JV was set up in 2002. It produces what Reuters calls “models based on ageing Fiat SpA designs as well as those of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings.”
Before Sun Myung Moon died in September aged 92, he made a will to give back the auto business with the North, a source told Reuters. It sounds like a good move.
Pyeonghwa is a prime example for overcapacity. Its website says the 10.76 million square foot factory has the capacity to produce 10,000 vehicles a year. It lists sales as 1,873 vehicles in 2011.