The fates of Lotte and SK groups have been swayed by the prosecution's decision this week to indict without detention Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin on the charge of bribery, while SK Chairman Chey Tae-won was given the all clear.
Wrapping up a six-month investigation into the corruption scandal that saw former President Park Geun-hye removed from office, prosecutors concluded that Lotte gave 7 billion won to the K-Sports Foundation to receive favors in its bid for a license to operate a new duty-free shop, and other business projects.
Chey on the other hand, was acquitted of bribery charge as SK did not actually give the 8.9 billion won in "donations" sought by the former president.
As a result, Lotte will likely face a setback in its domestic and global management by the end of the year, while SK will operate normally.
In response to the prosecutors' move, Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate said in a statement: "We will sincerely follow the decision and attend the trials to resolve suspicions about the chairman."
However, Shin will face difficulty in managing the conglomerate, as he will have to attend hearings almost every day on various charges through the end of the year.
As well as the bribery charge involving the former president, the chairman is awaiting a court ruling on alleged embezzlement and malpractice of the Lotte owner family including founder Shin Kyuk-ho and the chairman's older brother Shin Dong-joo.
Industry officials said the retail giant will be unable to continue its mergers and acquisitions, and aggressive foreign investment, which have been pursued over the past 10 years since the chairman began to participate in the group's management.
They also point out that it will be hard for Lotte to take countermeasures against China's economic retaliation over its offering of a site for the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system here.
Unlike Lotte, SK will likely begin its aggressive domestic and global investment again.
Industry officials expect Chey will soon visit Japan and the United States to focus on SK hynix's attempt to acquire Toshiba. Until now, SK had appeared to be left behind its rivals because of the chairman's long-term travel ban.
In addition, he is expected to take care of the group's businesses in China where he has many friends. Just like Lotte, Korea's third-largest group has faced setbacks in its business there after Beijing began economic retaliation due to the missile row.
Chey will push for SK Innovation's acquisition of Shanghai SECCO Petrochemical and for the reopening of its suspended EV battery factory there.
Industry officials said that SK will invest 17 trillion won to enhance the competitiveness of its subsidiaries and hire 8,200 additional employees this year.
Meanwhile, Chey has reacted to cyber bullying over his private life, filing lawsuits against people who wrote false and malicious comments on internet sites. Dozens of people ─ most of whom are housewives ─ have been booked by the police.