HHI’s metalworking brothers weld strong bond

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HHI’s metalworking brothers weld strong bond

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Won Hyun-woo, left, was MVP at the World Skills Competition in Leipzig, Germany, in July, and his brother, Won Hyun-jun, aims to follow in his footsteps. They work at Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan. Provided by the company

In July, Korea took first place overall at the 2013 World Skills Competition in Leipzig, Germany. It was the 18th time the nation’s team won the biennial international vocational event that evaluates craftsmen up to the age of 22.

Among the 1,027 participants, Team Korea’s Won Hyun-woo, who works for Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), was chosen as the star among stars, winning the Albert Vidal Award for receiving the most points.

The 21-year-old Won scored 98.94 points in the construction metalworking category, which requires the competitor to make a simple structure with material as defined in the test project in accordance with detailed drawings, using the appropriate machines, tools and techniques, such as cutting, forming assembly, welding and joining, and finishing.

But Won did not start out in the construction metalworking field. During his three years at Incheon Mechanical Technical High School, Won learned sheet metal technology, which involves manual model development, production welding, operating machines and assembling components with a variety of flat and hollow profiles using different kinds of metals.

After being admitted to the Technical Educational Institute of HHI in 2010, Won was the runner-up in the national team selection competition, but failed to earn a ticket to the Skills Olympics because only the winner was allowed to enter.

In the 2015 World Skills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, there might be a different Won winner, this time in the sheet metal technology category.

Won is rooting for his younger brother, Won Hyun-jun, to become the world’s best technician in a category he failed to dominate.

The 18-year-old Hyun-jun also has been following his family’s legacy. He attends the same high school as his father and older brother did and recently joined HHI, the nation’s largest shipbuilder.

“I dreamed about being a technician watching my older brother,” said Hyun-jun, who was the gold medalist at the 48th National Skills Competition in Gangwon last month.

“There is bit of pressure as my older brother won MVP in the World Skills Competition, but I will train myself thoroughly and want to show that there is a younger Won like the older Won,” he said.

The Won brothers’ hometown is Incheon, about 400 kilometers (248 miles) from HHI in Ulsan, but they have no time for homesickness.

For Hyun-jun to replicate his brother’s achievement, he first needs to go through two national team selection competitions next year to reach the 2015 World Skills Competition.

To achieve his goal of winning gold in Brazil, Hyun-jun trains 14 hours a day. Hyun-woo has shared his national team experience and tips from the competition.

“If he doesn’t forget the basics and takes his training seriously, he will earn a good result,” said Hyun-woo.

Interestingly, Hyun-jun’s instructor is Jun Yong-jae, who beat Hyun-woo at the national team selection in 2010 and took the title in the 2011 World Skills Competition in London. But the 22-year-old Jun has no problem teaching his rival’s younger brother.

“It’s hard to believe that they are brothers because they don’t look alike, but their exceptional hand skills are the same,” said Jun. “Hyun-jun has very good potential because he is learning skills so quickly.”

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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