Business leaders to attend GamesTop leaders of Korean conglomerates will attend the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics today.
Their participation is vital, as the Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote their companies in front of millions of global spectators, not to mention a rare chance to meet high-ranking government officials and business tycoons from around the world.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin is scheduled to stay either at the host city or nearby throughout the entire period of the Games. After showing up at the opening ceremony today, he will also attend the closing ceremony on Feb. 25.
Shin’s attendance is significant since he is not just the chief of the nation’s fifth-largest conglomerate, but also the chairman of the Korean Ski Association.
“Shin decided to stay in Pyeongchang throughout the Games,” a spokesperson for Lotte Group said, “because he might get to deliver the medals if Korean athletes for ski-related events win.”
He plans to attend ski-related games such as alpine skiing, ski jumping, cross-country skiing and mogul skiing. Shin’s affection for ski is widely known, as the 63-year-old started skiing at the age of six and was talented enough to be an amateur skier during college.
“Shin has a trial on Feb. 13, which he has to attend in Seoul,” said the spokesperson. “Except for such situations, Shin will stay near the Games until the closing ceremony.”
Samsung, which is the only Korean company sponsoring the sports event as a worldwide partner, will be represented at the opening ceremony by Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung Electronics’ mobile business.
“Samsung is the official provider of wireless communication at the Games,” said a Samsung Electronics spokesman, “which is why Koh decided to attend the event.”
It was rumored that Samsung’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, might attend the global event upon his release from jail on Monday. As his bed-ridden father, Lee Kun-hee, had been a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is known to have played a large part in bringing the Winter Games to Pyeongchang, the son’s attendance was considered highly probable.
The company, however, said he will not attend, without elaborating further.
Hyundai Motor, local partner for the Olympic Games, will have several executives at the opening ceremony but the owner and vice chairman, Chung Eui-sun, will not attend. But Vice Chairman Yang Woong-chul, President Lee Won-hee and Executive Vice President Lee Kwang-guk will attend.
Huh Chang-soo, chairman of GS Group; Kwon Oh-joon, chairman of Posco; and Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Hanjin Group, who is also a former head of the PyeongChang Organizing Committee, have all confirmed that they will be at the opening ceremony.
Koo Ja-yeol, chairman of LS Group, might attend the event, but not as head of the cable firm - as the head of the Korea Cycling Federation. Kim Seung-youn from Hanwha Group and Chey Tae-won from SK Group have not yet confirmed whether they will be in attendance.
The opening ceremony kicks off today at 8 p.m.
BY JIN EUN-SOO, SONG KYOUNG-SON [firstname.lastname@example.org]