Daewoo in Korean was written as 대우. Dae or 대 is Korean for large, great or big, while Woo or 우 (now Romanised as ‘u’) is taken from the name of the company’s founder 김우중, Kim Woo-Choong (also translated as Kim Woo-jung).
As with many Koreans, Kim was Woo-Choong’s surname. The Choong part of his name would likely have been shared with his brothers or other siblings, leaving him to be known in familial circles simply as Woo.
Like Hyundai and Samsung, Daewoo was actually a massive conglomerate, or chaebol. So in addition to cars, Daewoo also made buses, hotels, guns, electronics, ships, planes, buildings, highways, and dams. It also had a financial services and telecommunications arms too.
The story of Daewoo’s rise, collapse, bankruptcy, and Kim’s flight from the law is a fascinating story in itself, and one best covered in another article.