[NOTEBOOK] Manhunt Triggers a Boycott

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[NOTEBOOK] Manhunt Triggers a Boycott

"I am in the depths of despair like other Daewoo employees, but what will they earn for sending the arrest team from Korea to France?" said the general manager of the Daewoo Motor sales agency located in Chateauroux, central region France, speaking with me by phone. Every day, he lamented, the French media and press cover the news of the manhunt for the Daewoo Group founder, Kim Woo-choong. Representatives of unions and social organizations, calling themselves "commando units to capture Kim Woo-choong," arrived in Paris a few days ago to find and bring to justice the former Daewoo chairman.

The manager's complaint sounds strange to me. He is in France, famous as a haven for labor unions. I had to ask him what he really meant. He answered that the recent actions of Daewoo Motor labor unionists have frightened the French people, suggesting to them members of a gangster group determined to punish a boss who had betrayed them.

I explained that those workers, who lost their jobs due to the mismanagement, might be expressing their regret and anger. "I understand how they feel, but that is no different from putting their company's product under boycott in a foreign market," said the manager.

He told me that since the "commando unit" arrived in France last Friday, three customers of his office have canceled their orders for Daewoo cars. In fact, Daewoo Motor sales agencies throughout France are having a hard time keeping up with the phone calls to cancel orders. Daewoo Motor Company sold only 669 cars in France during January and February this year, fewer than half of the 1,670 cars sold during the same period last year. As of the end of February, Daewoo Motor has failed to deliver 700 cars to customers in time. Cars were not shipped to France because the company, which was engaged in argument with the creditors' group, failed to deliver the cars promptly.

We all understand how Daewoo Motor employees feel. However, they should know that French people feel awkward seeing those Korean employees holding street demonstration in a foreign country. It is certainly clear that they are giving a negative picture of Korean companies and products, not to mention Daewoo Motor Company and its product. The French media and press covered the details of the collusion between political and business circles in Korea as soon as the arrest team reached Paris. One newspaper even published an article with the sensational title, "Korean conglomerates, a synonym for failure."

An employee of a Korean company stationed in Paris sighed that "Korean companies will have a hard time selling their products from now on, because corporate image, itself, is a valuable product.


by Lee Hoon-beom

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