South Korea’s president has met with the country’s top privately-owned conglomerates, including the likes of Samsung and LG, whose economic dominance she has publicly promised to curb in the past.
At a lunch held in Seoul on Wednesday, Park Geun-hye promised attendees that her campaign to improve the country’s economy through “economic democratization” would not turn into the repression of conglomerates or excessive regulation.
Known as chaebols, the country’s big family-controlled conglomerates are perceived by many to stifle competition and entrepreneurship.
Park’s economic democratization aims to create a level playing field for all economic players as a result.
Earlier this year, LG Group and Hyundai announced they would award almost 1 trillion won (€597 million) worth of contracts between them to smaller firms – perceived to be a move to appease the government.
Also at yesterday’s lunch, Park urged the leaders of the chaebols to increase investment and hiring to help Korea’s economy, which has seen its GDP grow less than 1% for eight consecutive quarters.
She told the meeting: “Now is the point where each company is required to make active and leading investments. Job creation, which our people yearn badly for, can happy only when businesses, not the government, are willing to do so.”
GS chairman Huh Chang-soo, who heads Federation of Korean Industries, Korea’s largest business lobby, responded that the top 30 conglomerates plan to invest 155 trillion won of investment and hire 140,000 people this year.
Other businesses at the meeting included Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, SK, LG, Lotte, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hanjin, Hanwha and Doosan.
It was the first time Park Geun-hye has reached out to the chaebol chiefs since her election in February.