|Kolon Group Honorary Chairman Lee Woong-yeul, left, receives a certificate of appointment from Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) Chairman Huh Chang-soo. Courtesy of FKI|
By Park Jae-hyuk
Kolon Group Honorary Chairman Lee Woong-yeul was appointed to lead a committee to recommend candidates for the next Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) chairman, according to the business lobby group, Monday.
The FKI said Lee was given plenary authority to supervise the recommendation process.
In addition, he will chair the FKI's future development committee to come up with plans for the federation's medium- to long-term growth.
"After listening to opinions from various fields, we drew a conclusion that a fundamental reform is needed for the FKI to win hearts of the public and fulfill its responsibility," FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo said in a statement.
The incumbent FKI chairman, who has led the lobby group since 2011, abruptly offered to resign earlier this year, a month before the end of his sixth term. FKI Vice Chairman Kwon Tae-shin, who had previously run the Prime Minister's Office and served as vice finance minister, also decided to step down.
During the FKI's six decades of history, its chairmen have been selected among a group of vice chairmen.
Lee, who belongs to the vice chairmen's group, reportedly refused to lead the FKI.
The other business tycoons belonging to the vice chairmen's group are Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, Samyang Group Chairman Kim Yoon, DB Group Chairman Kim Jun-ki, Chong Kun Dang Chairman Rhee Jang-han, Doosan Group Chairman Park Jeong-won and Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae.
However, none of them has stepped forward to lead the lobby group.
Their apparent reluctance has been attributed to the FKI's continuous failures to regain its status as the nation's leading business lobby group.
The FKI's image took a hit after it was revealed in 2016 that it was involved in Korean conglomerates giving bribes to Choi Soon-sil, who meddled in state affairs by capitalizing on her friendship with impeached former President Park Geun-hye.
Under the Moon Jae-in government, the FKI was excluded from presidential meetings with business lobby group heads and Moon's trips abroad. The country's four largest business groups ― Samsung, SK, Hyundai Motor and LG ― also left the FKI.
Although the FKI has taken an amicable attitude toward the business-friendly Yoon Suk Yeol administration for its revival, it was even excluded from the president's closed-door dinner at Cheong Wa Dae late last year with the heads of the nation's major business lobby groups.
Against this backdrop, Korea Enterprises Federation Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik suggested an integration of the two federations, but the FKI expressed its displeasure at his proposal.