Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, announced a large-scale investment plan on August 8 after keeping a low profile for a long time. “We have decided to expand new investments and recruitment to vitalize the Korean economy and nurture new industries,” a Samsung official said on the day. "We will invest 180 trillion won (US$160 billion) and directly hire 40,000 people in the next three years."
Samsung’s plan includes 130 trillion won worth of domestic investment and 25 trillion won in four future growth sectors -- artificial intelligence (AI), 5th-generation mobile telecommunications, the bio business and electronic parts.
The massive investment plan is unprecedented in scale in Korean corporate history and came out two days after vice chairman Lee met with Kim Dong-yeon, deputy prime minister and minister of economy and finance.
The meeting between President Moon Jae-in and vice chairman Lee at the completion ceremony of a mobile phone factory in Noida, India wielded great influence on Samsung's formulation of the investment plan. "I hope that Samsung will invest more and create more jobs in Korea," President Moon said to Lee at the meeting. Samsung Electronics immediately set out to draw an investment and hiring plan.
In addition, some experts say that the plan also reflects vice chairman Lee's efforts to restore public trust which he and the Samsung Group lost as they were involved in a big political scandal during the Park Geun-hye presidency. “I don’t know how to restore my tarnished reputation as an entrepreneur,” Lee said in the final trial on an appeal case in December of last year. Lee was arrested on charges of providing bribes to Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of former President Park Geun-hye. However, he was released after receiving a suspended sentence in early February.
Many experts say that Lee will continue to keep a low profile for the time being as he is still waiting for the final Supreme Court ruling on him. Furthermore, Samsung affiliates are involved in cases being investigated by prosecutors, the Fair Trade Commission, and the Financial Services Commission amid the government’s push for chaebol reform.