Tuesday, December 11, 2012

U.S. Paper Puts Spotlight on Samsung's Power in Korea

The seemingly unstoppable growth of the Samsung Group in Korean society has attracted the attention most people of the world as well as  the Washington Post.

 "So sprawling is Samsung's modern-day empire that some Koreans say it has become possible to live a Samsung-only life: you can use a Samsung credit card to buy a Samsung TV for the living room of your Samsung-made apartment on which you'll watch the Samsung-owned pro baseball team," the paper said Monday.

It added that debate over how to curb the size and power of powerful, family-run conglomerates or chaebol has become a key issue in this year's presidential election.

Three out of four Korean voters have negative views of the chaebol, while all presidential candidates are promising to curb their power, according to the paper.

As a chief example, the daily cited tighter curbs on "cross-shareholding," whereby the owner families ostensibly have only a small amount of shares in some core companies, but these in turn own a vast network of subsidiaries. This enables the owners to control a broad range of businesses without holding stakes in all of the affiliates.

The Washington Post said Samsung "acts more as a do-everything monolith, building roads and oil rigs, operating hotels and amusement parks, selling insurance. Critics say Samsung elbows into new industries, knocking out smaller businesses, limiting choices for Korean consumers."

But the big business lobby, the Federation of Korean Industries, defended Samsung's role in Korea's economic landscape. "Samsung is a survivor of competition," Lee Cheong-haeng at the FKI told the paper. "Many Koreans right now have dual minds about chaebols. They say, I hate chaebols, but I want my son to work for one."he he he !

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