South Korea Sputtering Back to Life

Hyundai settles with its workers, but new strikes are called

"Mansei! Mansei! Mansei!"

Facing a crowd of labor negotiators last week, Chung Ju Yung shouted the traditional Korean cheer for long life. Mansei! was an appropriate chant for the farm boy turned industrialist. He had just agreed to a settlement that would spark his $14 billion-a-year Hyundai Group back to life.

Plagued by the same labor disputes that have crippled the South Korean economy over the past month, Chung had refused to meet with his employees' newly formed unions and promptly shut down seven of his conglomerate's 24 companies. Among the shuttered enterprises: Hyundai Shipbuilding & Heavy Industries, with 24,000 workers,...