Park thanks tycoons for support on creativity

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Park thanks tycoons for support on creativity


President Park Geun-hye had a luncheon with heads of 17 conglomerates and 18 creative innovation centers from around the country at the Blue House on Friday. [Joint Press Corps]

President Park Geun-hye asked the country’s tycoons Friday to invest more in her “creative economy” initiative to offer better jobs to young Koreans.

Park invited heads of the country’s 17 conglomerates to a luncheon at the Blue House Friday to mark the completion of the opening of creative economy innovation centers around the country. Over the past 10 months, business groups pledged billions of won in investments as a part of Park’s initiative, and the last center was completed on Wednesday.

After thanking the companies for their contributions to her initiative, Park said the conglomerates that sponsored the regional centers should also start hiring youngsters in quality jobs.

“The heads of the sponsoring companies should aggressively hire new employees to provide good jobs to talented youngsters in addition to their efforts to educate capable workers through vocational training and work-study programs,” she said during opening remarks before a discussion session with the tycoons.

Ahead of the luncheon, Park, 17 tycoons, heads of the 18 creative economy innovation centers and senior government officials had a discussion session. According to the Blue House, the discussion was originally scheduled for an hour, but it lasted for 90 minutes as the tycoons and center heads shared their accomplishments and future plans.

Under the creative economy project, 17 conglomerates have opened business incubation centers across the nation, in locations where they already have substantial resources and infrastructure to support start-ups in each region. Along with the regional governments, they so far pledged nearly 2 trillion won ($1.71 billion) for the projects.

While each company sponsored one center, Samsung sponsored two in Daegu Metropolitan City and Gumi, North Gyeongsang, and SK sponsored centers in Daejeon and Sejong. A Jeju center is sponsored by Daum Kakao and Amore Pacific.

Skepticism about the creative economy initiative has lingered since Park first introduced the term during her presidential campaign in 2012. In Sept. 2014, Park announced a road map for her initiative, in which conglomerates would work with regional innovation centers to provide matching funds and support.

Park said the Friday gathering with the businessmen, innovation center heads and ministers would serve as an opportunity to provide a clearer answer to the skeptics.

“I hope this meeting will clear the doubts of the people that still cannot understand what ‘creative economy’ is,” she said.

Then Park presented future directions for the innovation centers, and how the business community and local governments should work together.

“The innovation centers should serve as places where the conglomerates and small companies can work together for mutual prosperity and where they can find the hidden talents of a region,” Park said. “For the centers to successfully perform the functions of incubating start-ups and reforming regional economies, the sponsor companies must play more active roles.”

She asked the conglomerates to share their business networks and know-how, particularly technologies, with start-ups and small companies to support their creative ideas.

According to the Blue House, 250 start-ups and 125 small companies, more than seven years in business, are being incubated at the centers.

“So far, they have attracted about 30 billion won of investments,” said Cho Shin, presidential senior secretary for future strategy. “And there were 75 people who were newly hired by the start-ups. I hope these figures will grow 10 times and 100 times when I brief you about the project one year from now.”

The 17 businessmen who joined the meeting included 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.

Other conglomerate leaders that attended included Posco Chairman Kwon Oh-joon; Hyundai Heavy Industries Chairman Choi Kil-sun; GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo; Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn; Hanjin Group Chairman Chon Yang-ho; and CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik.

Doosan Group Chairman Park Yong-maan; Vice President of Hyosung Group Cho Hyun-sang; AmorePacific Group Chairman Suh Kyung-bae; KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu; Naver Corporation CEO Kim Sang-hun; and Daum Kakao Chairman Kim Bum-soo were also present.

The Friday event was by far the largest conference between the president and corporate leaders. Since taking office in Feb. 2013, Park has hosted only two meetings with business leaders in Aug. 2013 and last February. 

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