The business community pledged to restore public trust, which has been tarnished in the wake of the swirling scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, President Park Geun-hye’s acquaintance. Those in the community also vowed to lead efforts to overcome an economic crisis.
About 1,000 people from the business community, political and other walks of life participated in a New Year’s gathering hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) at the grand ballroom of COEX in Samseong-dong, Seoul, on Jan. 4.
In his speech, KCCI Chairman Park Yongmaan said, “I, chairman of the economic body, am so sorry now that some companies are at the center of the scandal. I’ll do my best so that companies themselves can gain trust anew and be loved by people.”
Park also proposed that everyone join forces to overcome the economic crisis. He called for legislative, judicial and administrative branches to support efforts to overcome economic difficulties, saying, “The dynamics of a majority of faithful companies act like the pulse of society.”
Park said that now is the time when resolute determination and preparations are badly needed, and the nation needs to bring about fundamental changes of the national economy to tide over the current difficulties and build a growth framework to lead the way. In return, politicians toasted an “economic resurgence.”
The latest event was a far cry from the previous year’s. Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn attended the occasion in pace of President Park Geun-hye, who is standing trial at the Supreme Court for her impeachment. Acting President Hwang urged the participating businessmen to make dramatic investments with a sense of confidence and create jobs. Only three ministers from the government were present.
They were Deputy Prime Minister-Minister of Strategy and Finance Yoo Il-ho, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan and Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Ki-kwon.
All the leaders of the top 10 conglomerates were absent. The top four group leaders — Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo — had already confirmed their absence. POSCO Chairman Kwon Oh-joon and Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho were scheduled to attend, but they canceled on the eve of the event.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin notified his intention not to attend. GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo, who concurrently serves as the chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), was also absent.
The seats vacated by business group leaders were filled with professional managers. GS Caltex Chairman Huh Jin-soo, CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, Hyundai Group Chairman Hyun Jung-eun, and Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman attended the event. Fewer politicians were present than in previous years.
In the past, major presidential hopefuls and all leaders of each political party would attend New Year’s gatherings. Not many top politicians were present. Chairman Choo Mi-ae of the Minju Party of Korea (MPK) and MPK floor leader Woo Sang-ho, mindful of a controversy over collusion between politics and business, decided not to attend the meeting. Only Chairman Choo changed her mind at the last minute at the sponsor’s request for their participation.
Choo said, “I expect companies to have a virtuous cycle in which they earn a huge profit and reinvest it.”
Saenuri floor leader Chung Woo-taek, Kim Dong-cheol, interim leader of the People’s Party, and Shim Sang-jung, leader of the minority opposition Justice Party, were also present.
Notables, including Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, Deputy Prime Minister-Minister of Strategy and Finance Yoo Il-ho, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan, Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Ki-kwon, and KCCI Chairman Park Yongmaan, participate in a New Year’s gathering hosted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in COEX in Seoul on Jan. 4. (Photos: KCCI)