South Korean President Moon Jae-in appointed Kim Sang-jo, nicknamed chaebol sniper, as the chairman of the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) on June 13. The Blue House said that he is the one to deal with social inequality and divide by means of a fair economic order.
Chaebol reform is a key part of the promise the President made during his campaign period. The KFTC chairman is more than willing to pursue it as well. “The five largest conglomerates in South Korea, that is, Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG and Lotte, account for two-thirds of the total assets of the 30 largest business groups in the country and I will take stern action against their unfair business practices,” he mentioned.
He is expected to start his career as the KFTC chairman by looking into unfair intra-group transactions involving conglomerate owners and their families in that this is the field of his expertise, can serve the purposes of chaebol reform and protection of small firms at the same time, and is closely related to the Moon Jae-in government’s pursuit of a democratic economy.
In late March this year, the KFTC began to investigate 225 subsidiaries of 45 conglomerates with an asset of at least five trillion won such as Samsung, Hyundai Motor, Hanwha, Hyosung, SK, GS and Lotte. Those of them that are found to have been involved in unfair intra-group transactions are subject to more severe penalties than before once the amended Fair Trade Act becomes effective in July this year and the KFTC chairman is likely to make the most of his legal rights in accordance with the act.
The chairman is aiming to achieve economic reinvigoration and job creation along with a level playing field by means of his chaebol reform drive. “At present, a large number of suppliers and subcontractors are depending on a small number of large corporations and the former’s excessive dependence on the latter has resulted in price dumping and an unstable business relationship,” he remarked earlier.