Posted : 2013-05-05 18:17
Updated : 2013-05-05 18:17

Business entourage includes who's who in Korea Inc.

By Cho Mu-hyun

The Korean economic mission accompanying President Park Geun-hye to the United States is the biggest yet in terms of size and the prominence of its members.

Fifty-one established leaders of the local business circle will travel with Park, substantially larger than previous missions of former presidents Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak who were accompanied by around 30.

Out of the countrys 10 major conglomerates — Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, Lotte, POSCO, Hyundai Heavy, GS, Hanjin and Hanwha — seven chairman are expected to be part of the Presidents entourage.

They are Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics; Chung Mong-koo of Hyundai Motor Group; Koo Bon-moo of LG Group; Shin Dong-bin of Lotte Group; Chung Joon-yang of POSCO; Cho Yang-ho of Hanjin Group; and Huh Chang-soo of GS Group. Huh is also the head of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), one of the five major business associations here.

Others include Sohn Kyung-shik of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Kim Ki-mun of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses; Lee Hee-beom of the Korea Employers Federation; and Han Duk-soo of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

Chey Tae-won and Kim Seung-youn, the chairmen of SK Group and Hanwha Group, respectively, wont participate due to their incarceration after being found guilty of embezzlement. Kim Chang-geun, chairman of the SKs decision-making SUPEX Council, and Hong Ki-joon, vice chairman of Hanwha Chemical, will go instead. Hyundai Heavy will not participate, due to unknown reasons.

Spokesmen for the conglomerates all declined to reveal specific details of their trips.

Their main agenda is to remove concerns over the North Korea risk, said an FKI spokesman.

We organized the mission to include the chairmen of conglomerates.

Samsungs Lee stated earlier in April after a month long trip to Japan and Hawaii that the nations largest conglomerate will do everything it can to help the new administration.

Samsung Chairman Lee will bring his two daughters and wife - Lee Boo-jin, president of the Shilla Hotel and Samsung Everland, Lee Seo-hyun, senior executive vice president of Cheil Industries, and Hong Ra-hee, director of Leeum Samsung Musem of Art.

His daughters, who are also executives in the group, are expected to help the chairman expand political and economic connections with U.S. firms.

The U.S. market is one of the most important ones for Samsung Electronics, the flagship subsidiary of the group, which is in a tug-of-war with rival Apple there for the spot in smartphones, both in volume and recognition.

The South Korean company is also facing a possible export ban there, which some nationalists here claim is protectionism on the part of U.S.

Among others joining the delegation are Park Yong-maan, chairman of Doosan Group; Koo Ja-yeol of LS Group; Park Sam-koo of Kumho Asiana Group; Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of Hyundai Group; Hyun Jae-hyun of Tongyang Group; Shin Chang-jae of Kyobo Life; Ryu Jin of Poongsan Group; and Kim Yoon of Samyang Group.

Along with Suh Byung-moon, chairman of BM Foundry and a close associate of the president, eleven heads of small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) are also on the list.

We added mid-tier companies and SMEs to learn from the creative economy (of the U.S.), said the FKI spokesman.

Making a creative economy is one of the major promises of the new administration, along with helping SMEs.

From the finance industry, a total of five delegates will visit, including Kim Jung-tae, chairman of Hana Financial Group, and Han Dong-woo of Shinhan Financial Group.

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