The South Korean economy has become more dependent on large businesses. Data released by Statistics Korea show that large businesses, which accounted for less than 1 percent of corporate Korea in terms of the number of companies, took up half of the total corporate profits in 2017.
According to a report released by the statistical office on Dec. 6, large businesses accounted for 48 percent of the total corporate profits last year. Their proportion in corporate Korea in terms of the number of companies remained unchanged at 0.3 percent.
On the other hand, small and mid-sized companies accounted for 99.1 percent of the total in terms of number, but took up only 37.9 percent of the total sales. Strong medium companies accounted for 0.6 percent of the total but took up 14.1 percent of the total sales.
The amount of operating profit per worker also showed a huge gap among the companies, with large businesses averaging 90 million won (US$80,501), strong medium businesses 30 million won (US$26,834) and small and mid–sized businesses 10 million won (US$8,945).
The operating profit of large businesses which belong to business groups (conglomerates) subject to mutual equity investment restrictions came to 118.63 trillion won (US$106.11 billion), up 54.8 percent from 2016, and that of the other large businesses grew by 8.2 percent to 58.71 trillion won (US$52.51 billion). All these large businesses saw their operating profits increase 46.41 trillion won (US$41.52 billion), or 35.5 percent, in one year. In contrast, smaller businesses showed a 3.2 percent decrease in operating profit to 19.48 trillion won (US$17.42 billion). The operating profit of smaller businesses grew by 24 percent to 20.12 trillion won (US$18 billion) in 2016 but it fell in one year.
The operating profit of mid-sized businesses stood at 53.49 trillion won (US$47.85 billion), up 13.2 percent, while that of strong medium businesses increased 9.1 percent to 40.32 trillion won (US$36.07 billion).