Skipping the partyKANG KI-HEON
The author is an industry 1 team reporterof the JoongAng Ilbo.
The predecessor of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) was the Seoul Chamber of Commerce established in 1884. When imperial Japan occupied Korea, it attempted to control the local economy through local chambers of commerce. As a result, the separately operated Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Seoul and Korea’s Seoul Chamber of Commerce merged. Japan exploited Korea by surveying local economies and supporting Japanese people’s economic activity through the integrated organization.
Efforts to restore the Seoul Chamber of Commerce were made after liberation. In 1946, the Korea Chamber of Commerce was established. After the legislation of the Chamber of Commerce Act in 1952, the Korea Chamber of Commerce became a statutory body.
There are 73 chambers of commerce nationwide. According to the Chamber of Commerce Act, the purpose of the Korea Chamber of Commerce is to collect and coordinate members’ opinions and suggestions and convey them to the government and local administrations to enhance and promote competitiveness commerce and industry.
The Korea Chamber of Commerce has held an annual New Year’s Party since 1962 as an extension of its purpose. The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) and the Korea Enterprises Federation (KEF) don’t hold New Year’s parties and instead attend the KCCI’s party to respect its symbolic significance.
Korean presidents always attended the KCCI party. The only times that the president skipped the party were Chun Do-hwan in 1984, Roh Moo-hyun in 2007, and Park Geun-hye in 2017. President Moon Jae-in broke the practice. He has never attended the party.
On March 31, President Moon attended the 48th anniversary ceremony of the Day of Commerce and Industry, an event organized by the government. That’s an event that presidents have attended every five years in the past. For the 45th anniversary three years ago, Moon did not attend.
In a meeting with staff on April 1, Moon said it was his duty to listen to the complaints of industry insiders. But didn’t Moon and his aides at the Blue House shut their ears to the complaints of the business groups opposing the revisions to the Commerce Law and the Act on the Penalty of Fatal Industrial Accidents. That was only three months ago. An exceptional move without context is not funny or impressive.