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2017-06-23 17:48
By Park Jae-hyuk



POSCO Chairman Kwon Oh-joon
KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu
The Moon Jae-in administration is facing criticism from the country’s business circle for excluding POSCO and KT chiefs from a business delegation which will accompany him on a visit to the United States next week.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) announced the list of 52 entrepreneurs Friday, which had gained Cheong Wa dae approval.

In addition to KCCI Chairman Park Yong-maan, the representatives include 10 conglomerate leaders, 37 small-and medium-sized company heads, two public enterprise leaders and two U.S.-based firm CEOs.

POSCO Chairman Kwon Oh-joon and KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu failed to make it to the list, while SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun are included.

As Kwon and Hwang submitted applications earlier, they were expected to join Moon’s U.S. visit.

“The KCCI asked me to join the business delegation,” Kwon said in a press conference earlier this month. “I’m positively considering the offer to find ways to solve various problems for the country’s development.”

Many economic organizations recommended Hwang to join. The chairman himself reportedly wanted to be part of the delegation as well.

As the KCCI said it prioritized companies with investment plans and projects in the U.S., critics pointed out that the President bring along the two chairmen who are facing challenges in the world’s largest economy.

Kwon, who is also in charge of Korea Iron & Steel Association chairman, would be able to discuss issues regarding the Donald Trump administration’s protectionist policies against the steel industry, observers said.

After the U.S. Department of Commerce slapped anti-dumping duties on products of Korean steelmakers, POSCO, Hyundai Steel and Dongkuk Steel’s exports to the country have almost been halted.

KT also plans to launch its GiGa Wire service in Boston, after signing a memorandum of understanding with U.S. internet firm netBlazr and the city of Boston. The Korean mobile carrier seeks to participate in the Boston Digital Equity Project to improve the city’s internet environment.

Against this backdrop, doubts have sprouted that the new government may strive to force the two chairmen to resign from their positions although terms of both will finish in 2020.

Previous administrations tended to make heads of formerly state-owned companies like POSCO and KT step down to fill the vacant places with their sponsors or supporters.

Those firms have repeatedly been embroiled in controversies as well, over the appointment of top executives who many believe were selected by top presidential aides.

Former POSCO Chairman Chung Joon-yang took office in 2009 and attained his second term in 2012. But Chung’s rein prematurely ended in 2014 after the launch of the Park Geun-hye administration.

Former KT Chairman Nam Joong-soo stepped down after former President Lee Myung-bak’s inauguration. Lee Seok-chae, who led KT after Nam, also retired dishonorably just after the start of the Park administration.

On top of the two firms, Lotte Group also failed make it to the list, despite its continuous investments in the U.S. market. The exclusion was reportedly because of Chairman Shin Dong-bin’s alleged corruptions and family disputes over control of the nation’s fifth-largest group.

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