President, businessmen set to discuss key agendas

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President, businessmen set to discuss key agendas

President Park Geun-hye will meet with the heads of the country’s largest business groups today in a rare gathering to seek their continued cooperation for her “creative economy” initiative and support in revitalizing Korea’s sluggish economy.

“The heads of the creative economy innovation centers from around the country and the heads of the conglomerates that sponsor the centers will be invited for a luncheon at the Blue House,” said presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook.

About 60 participants including 17 heads of conglomerates as well as top government officials will attend the meeting.

The main purpose of the luncheon, according to Min, is to mark the completion of the 17 centers centered on Park’s creative economy project.

Under the president’s initiative, 17 conglomerates have opened business incubation centers across the nation, where they already have substantial resources and infrastructure to work together with local governments to support start-ups in each region.

The 17th center was completed in Incheon in cooperation with the Hanjin Group, 310 days after the first opening of the Daegu center, sponsored by Samsung, in September.

The 17 businessmen to join the meeting include Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee; Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo; LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo; Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin; and Kim Chang-geun, chairman of the Supex Council, SK Group’s highest decision-making body.

Since taking office in February 2013, Park has only hosted two meetings with the leaders of the business community. The first meeting took place on Aug. 28, 2013, and the second one on Feb. 24. Today’s event is by far the largest conference between the president and corporate leaders.

The luncheon takes place at a sensitive time, with the president presenting a new mission for the labor market reform, as the business community has lobbied to obtain special pardons for certain convicted businessmen.

Earlier this month, Park presented labor market reform as the top agenda item in her administration for the second half of 2015, requesting cooperation from the ruling Saenuri Party to push it forward.

She is also expected to seek the cooperation of business leaders for those measures, which will include the introduction of the peak salary system and the improvement of contract flexibility.

The meeting comes ahead of Park’s plan to grant special pardons in line with Liberation Day on Aug. 15.

The business community and the ruling party had already requested the president give high-profile businessmen special pardons before Park ordered her aides to put together a list of convicts to receive clemency.

The businessmen are expected to renew their appeal, though Park is unlikely to mention the issue during the luncheon.

Park Yong-maan, the head of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who will attend today’s luncheon as the chairman of the Doosan Group, publicly appealed to the president on Wednesday to “give an opportunity” to SK Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn.

Chey remains in prison, though Kim will join the meeting at the Blue House.

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