President Moon Jae-in’s new secretary for policy, who earned the nickname “chaebol sniper” for his decade-long shareholder activism, vowed to keep his stance of promoting income-led growth, innovation and a fair economy.
At a farewell meeting as chief of Fair Trade Commission, he told reporters he is open to dialogue with conglomerate chiefs while drawing a clear line saying that incumbent Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki will keep his role as control tower on economic policies.
President Moon Jae-in’s new secretary for policy Kim Sang-jo
“I will maintain the stance of making a human-centered economy and creating a virtuous circle of income-led growth, innovation and fair economy,” he said.
“I have reiterated (as the FTC head) that a fair economy is the basis for innovative growth. (I believe) walking the middle line steadily (by not being swayed to either side) is the way for a fair economy.”
Over concerns that his appointment as top policy aide may put a damper on companies, Kim said, “There’s nothing for companies to be concerned. I will communicate more actively with businesses and labor unions, although it would be unofficial.”
The concerns chimed in with the mood in June 2017 when Kim, a former economics professor who was critical of chaebol scions abusing power to keep their family control over management, was appointed as the antitrust watchdog chief.
Despite concerns over his hard stance toward chaebol, he remained neutral while in public office.
In December, he told The Korea Herald that he believed the key to chaebol reforms is to make fair trade a solid practice in the market so that the public can experience fairness in their daily lives.
Rather than pushing for policies toward a fairer economy, Kim’s task appears to be curbing the nation’s economic slowdown.
Former policy aide, Kim Soo-hyun, was replaced in seven months reportedly amid growing concerns over Cheong Wa Dae’s failure in boosting economic growth.
According to a report on the economic outlook released last month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Korea’s economic growth rate was revised down to 2.4 percent from 2.6 percent in March and 2.8 percent in November.
“In the current situation, it is necessary to prioritize job creation and income necessary for the public,” Kim said.
While defining his new job at Cheong Wa Dae as a coordinator of government policies, Kim stressed that the role of controlling economic policies will be carried out by the finance minister.
During his tenure as the antitrust watchdog leader, Kim led revisions of the country’s Fair Trade Act for the first time in 38 years. The bill is still pending due to political bickering between the two main political parties.
The former corporate reform activist has built a career as an economist with strong links to nongovernmental organizations, and as a leading activist of chaebol reforms.
By Shin Ji-hye/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)