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Korea’s New Head of Antitrust Watchdog Targets Apple
Determined to Crack Down on Abuse of Power
Korea’s New Head of Antitrust Watchdog Targets Apple
  • By Jung Min-hee
  • September 26, 2019, 09:50
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New FTC head Cho Sung-wook

The new head of South Korea's antitrust watchdog is zeroing in on Apple, which is alleged to have abused its market power against Korean telecom carriers.

Fair Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Cho Sung-wook, who assumed office recently, held her first commissioners' meeting on Sept. 25.

The meeting focused on whether Apple Korea has abused its market power and dumped ad cost on the telecom service providers. If Apple, which has become the first target of Cho, is found to be involved in unfair trading practices through an investigation in the future, it will be fined tens of billions of won.

At the meeting held at the Government Complex Sejong, Cho said, “The FTC promotes market competition for free and creative business activities and is responsible for achieving a fair economy. We will treat fairly conglomerates and small and medium-sized companies, and domestic firms and foreign ones, and make a decision based on legal and objective data.”

At the meeting, commissioners discussed whether the antitrust agency would accept Apple Korea's filing of a consent decree regarding the allegations that the company abused its market power in deals with the three Korean telecom carriers. If the consent decree request is accepted, Apple Korea will carry out the corrective measures and the commission will close the case without making a decision on it. If the FTC rejects the filing, however, its investigation will continue according to standard procedures.

Apple Korea is alleged to have collected advertising and free repair service funds from the three domestic telecom firms -- SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus. It filed a consent decree to the FTC in July. An official from the FTC said, “We cannot disclose detailed corrective measures presented by Apple.”

As Cho has put abuse of power at the top of her reform agenda, Apple could be fined at least tens of billions of won, if the consent decree is not accepted.