This afternoon at Seoul, Giorgetto Giugiaro received the prestigious Order of Merit from the hands of the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak, "for having contributed to the economic development of the country's automotive industry".
The ceremony took place during the 48th Trade Day, an annual occasion in which South Korea celebrates the economic results achieved during the year. 2011 will be remembered as the year in which South Korea reached one trillion dollars in foreign trade, the ninth country in the world to have achieved this result.
Relations between Italdesign Giugiaro and Korea date to the early '70s: the country was experiencing considerable growth but the automotive industry was weak and was restricted to the domestic assembly of old foreign models (the Ford Cortina was assembled at Hyundai). Giorgetto Giugiaro was called on to design what would be the first model manufactured entirely in Korea and which would launch the Korean automotive industry at an international level: the Hyundai Pony, a compact car built to stimulate the domestic market and enter the international arena at a later stage. It made its appearance in 1976 and in just ten years reached the United States and a total of 200,000 units.
The past forty years have seen a succession of collaborations with Korea's major car manufacturers, culminating in the global success of the Daewoo Matiz (1998). Collaboration with SsangYong took shape in the first decade of the new millennium. Italdesign Giugiaro saw to the development of the latest models, from the Rexton to the Korando, the last project before entering Volkswagen.