Will the mobilization of corporate leaders stop?

2023. 12. 6. 20:07
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Many of them are wondering if it means a retrogression to the government-led finances as in the past.

Leaders of Korea’s top 10 conglomerates, including Samsung and LG, attended an event held at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center on Wednesday to help console the city on its failed bid to host the 2030 World Expo. The chief executives of the largest business groups in Korea were mobilized for the political event for the government to promise further development of the city — instead of drawing up their business plans for next year.

In the event led by Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon and ruling party leader Kim Gi-hyeon, President Yoon Suk Yeol pledged to do his best to carry out various development projects for the city, including the construction of an international airport. The corporate leaders accompanied the president to a traditional market and shared mung bean cakes and tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) with the president.

Business circles are wondering why corporate leaders should serve as his sidekicks to help lift the stagnant approval ratings of the president and the People Power Party (PPP). They had complained about having had to spend too much time with the president overseas over the past 17 months to help Busan win the Expo bid at the cost of their precious business hours. Yet they did comply with the president’s request to accompany him on his frequent overseas trips.

But that’s it. The responsibility for the botched bid should be borne by the presidential office and the PPP. Why — and until when — must corporate leaders be mustered for political events organized by the government?

It is not desirable for a government to force them to follow the president whenever he embarks on trips overseas. Most of the leaders who accompanied the president on his visits to London and Paris last month did the same on his latest state visit to the Netherlands the next week.

Not only the presidential office but also top government officials summon leaders of the private sector often. Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Gov. Lee Bok-hyun, a former prosecutor, has brought in CEOs of banks at least once a week since taking the helm of the mighty office. Many of them are wondering if it really means a retrogression to the government-led finances as in the past.

The president has repeatedly emphasized the values of freedom and market economy since taking the oath last year. But his act does not match his policy direction nor help the economy recover. Choi Sang-mok, the nominee for deputy prime minister for economy, stressed a dynamic economy to boost growth. But such a high-handed approach will not help at all.

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