Moon treats another 7 tycoons to dinner

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Moon treats another 7 tycoons to dinner


President Moon Jae-in, center, chats with leaders of business groups during a cocktail hour hosted at the Blue House on Friday, his second consecutive night of meetings with Korean business leaders. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in continued his two-day summit with Korean tycoons on Friday, inviting leaders of seven big business groups to a cocktail reception and dinner accompanied by candid discussions on the economy.

It was the last in a pair of meetings between Moon, top government officials and business magnates. On Friday, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, SK Chairman Chey Tae-Won, Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin, GS Chairman Huh Chang-soo, Hyundai Heavy Industries Chairman Choi Kil-seon, KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu and Korean Air President Cho Won-tae attended the meeting.

“There were several meetings between presidents and business leaders, but I thought they were a bit too formal,” Moon said. “So I decided to have two meetings and I wish to have candid discussions without any scenario or limit of topics and time.”

In addition to the seven businessmen, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Park Yong-maan and other top government and Blue House official joined the meeting.

On Thursday, Moon met with leaders of seven other top conglomerates and mid-sized food-maker Ottogi. The first meeting was held in the presidential garden, while Friday’s event took place in the main building of the Blue House due to the rain.

According to the Blue House, two kinds of cocktails were served at the reception along with snacks prepared by celebrity Chef Im Ji-ho, followed by a dinner. Beers from 7Brau, a local microbrewery, were used in the cocktails. The Blue House had served craft beers and Im’s dishes at Thursday’s event.

Although the Blue House said the guest lists for each event were based on the size of the companies’ assets, there was another distinction between the two groups of tycoons: many of those at Friday’s event were implicated in the abuse of power and corruption scandal that led to the ouster of Moon’s predecessor, Park Geun-hye. Samsung, SK, Lotte and KT were suspected of involvement in a massive bribery scandal involving Park and her friend Choi Soon-sil.

According to Im, the menu on Thursday had dishes that symbolized energy and cooperation, while Friday’s menu used ingredients that were intended to symbolize a new start and harmony.

One of the dishes offered on Friday used dried pollack. “The fish was dried during the cold winter time. It was repeatedly frozen and thawed. Just like making dried pollack, the path to mutual prosperity is far and tough. But the process is unavoidable,” Im said. “The dish was meant to urge the guests to accept confrontations and conflicts as a process and work together to create good outcomes.”

After tasting the cocktails and snacks, Moon had an ice-breaking talk with each tycoon about topics related to their companies.

With the heads of Lotte and KT, Moon brought up the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. Moon talked about the Korean national team’s prospects in skiing, as Lotte Chairman Shin is the chairman of the Korea Ski Association.

With KT Chairman Hwang, Moon brought up plans for a 5G communication network to be used during the Olympic Games for the first time in the world. “We expect the upcoming Olympics to become an IT Olympics to commercialize 5G technology,” Hwang said.

Hwang also said Samsung Electronics is developing new phones to use the technology with a plan for a commercial launch in 2019. “Of course, the phones will be used for the Pyeongchang Olympics,” he added. “We will make sure that it will be a decisive event for Korea’s IT industry to make a quantum jump.”

With SK Chairman Chey, Moon addressed the conglomerate’s campaign to invest in social enterprises. Chey said he believes it will lead to the creation of jobs and said his company is making investments to boost entrepreneurship. Moon praised Samsung Electronics for its performance and massive investments. “I am very thankful that Samsung is leading the growth of our economy,” Moon said. “It must be a joy.”

Samsung Vice Chairman Kwon replied that the company will put more efforts in for even more success.

Moon and Hyundai Heavy Industries Chairman Choi discussed the hardships of the shipbuilding industry.

“When the economy was good, we hired many. Almost all people living near the shipyards worked with us, but they all lost jobs regardless of their abilities,” he said.

After the reception, the participants continued their discussions over a dinner.

On Thursday, Moon met with leaders of Hyundai Motor Company, LG, Posco, Hanwha, Shinsegae, Doosan, CJ and Ottogi. Moon discussed with each leader specific issues affecting their companies. China’s economic retaliation over the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense antimissile system in Korea and efforts to create quality jobs were also discussed Thursday.

According to Moon’s spokesman Park Soo-hyun, the president promised Thursday to support Korean nuclear energy companies’ businesses in overseas markets. According to Park, the president was responding to Doosan Chairman Park Jeong-won’s concerns about the administration’s phasing out of nuclear energy.

“If decisions are made to stop the construction of the Shin Kori 5 and 6 reactors, Doosan Heavy Industries’ sales will be fatally hit because it supplies the main parts,” the Doosan chairman was quoted as telling Moon.

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