[THE INVESTOR] Fair Trade Commission head Kim Sang-jo on June 14 held a press conference marking his second year in office. Below are excerpts from the Q&A session.
Q: You are calling on conglomerates to refrain from illegally hiring their affiliates. But this could violate property rights. What are your thoughts?
A: We won’t be making all affiliate hiring illegal. And making it illegal won’t solve the problem. So what we are doing is asking for the companies to cooperate, and we are asking them to offload stakes in non-core affiliates, which they hold just for the sake of hiring them. This is not fair to their smaller rivals.
Q: The conglomerates contend that they have no choice but to turn to affiliates due to security and efficiency issues.
A: We are taking all of this into consideration. But we do want to ask. Why do conglomerates need a logistics company, or a systems information unit? For security? Well, all over the world, companies need security, but you don’t see a lot of foreign enterprises owning system information companies. Instead, they work with world-class firms in that area, and get stronger.
Q: There are a number of companies that are disposing their stakes to avoid being branded as illegally hiring their affiliates. So does this mean they are free from punishment?
A: It’s evident that we can’t look into all the cases. So for companies that step up voluntarily, we will give consideration to them.
Q: What is your biggest goal?
A: It is to put forth results that can be felt by each and everyone in Korea. We won’t have too much time in making changes. Perhaps only about a year. It’s all about what we have to show the people at the end of my term.
Q: You said more needs to be done on spurring free competition. How will you address this?
A: I said it because I feel that what the FTC has done over the past year is not all about reforming the chaebol or getting rid of the practice of the more powerful or rich people abusing those with less power or money.
I want to stress that we have put a lot of thought into improving competitive laws and how to cope with the fourth industrial revolution, and I hope to offer more tangible results this year.
Ultimately, I hope to eradicate, once and for all, the unfair practices in society and in business circles. For this, we will need to work closely together with other government agencies.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)