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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
April 24, 2024

Market Now

Big firms skip year-end brouhaha, offer days off instead

  • PUBLISHED :December 21, 2023 - 13:28
  • UPDATED :December 21, 2023 - 13:28
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(123rf)

South Korean conglomerates are skipping official year-end ceremonies and recommending employees to take their annual leave to close out 2023.

Samsung Electronics, the country’s largest conglomerate, is rounding out the year without any official year-end ceremony -- or "jongmusik" in Korean -- according to a Samsung official. The conglomerate will hold an official ceremony to kick off the new year -- or "simusik" -- on Jan. 2, 2024, bringing together top executives and employees at its headquarters in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.

For the Jan. 2 ceremony, Vice Chairman Kyung Kye-hyun, who is in charge of the device solution division that oversees the company’s chip business, is expected to participate. Vice Chairman Han Jong-hee of the device experience division, also in charge of the mobile device and home appliance business, is likely to miss the event, as he will be preparing for CES 2024, the world’s largest annual consumer electronics exhibition, which will be held in Las Vegas from Jan. 9-12, 2024 .

Though Samsung Chairman Lee Jae-yong has never taken part in the ceremony to kick off the new year, eyes are on whether he might deliver a message to employees for the new year.

LG Group does not plan to hold official ceremonies for the end of the year or start of the new year. Instead, group affiliates have recommended all employees take their annual leave during the last week of this year, which would allow them to take off for about nine days when combined with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

"The last time we held a ceremony to kick off the new year was in January 2019. From 2020, the chief delivered video messages for better communication among employees in both Korean and overseas offices," a LG official said.

"Since 2021, the chairman has been sending a new year's message earlier so that employees can take time off to close the year," the official said.

LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo was the first among Korea's conglomerate chiefs to deliver a new year’s message in a video. In his message for next year, Koo emphasized the company should offer “differentiated” customer value to lead the market.

For SK Group, the country’s second-largest conglomerate, it has been a while since they held an official ceremony at the end or start of the year, according to a company official.

“Affiliates may have different corporate cultures, but I think the overall trend is that companies recommend employees to take long breaks to take their time ending the year, and to refresh themselves before starting the new year,” the official said.

Hyundai Motor Group also does not plan to hold a special year-end ceremony. As the company’s foundation day falls on Dec. 29, its employees will be rounding up the year’s work on Dec. 28 and taking time off until the start of next year.

Hyundai has not yet decided on whether to have a ceremony to start 2024. To kick off this year, the conglomerate held its first offline ceremony event in three years in the form of a "town hall meeting" where Chairman Chung Euisun appeared and spoke with employees.

The trend of companies cutting ceremonial events also applies to Hanwha Group. At Hanwha, there once was a tradition where Chairman Kim Seung-youn would bring together senior executives to have a bowl of tteokguk, or rice cake soup, and deliver his new year's message.

But since COVID-19, such events have been replaced with video messages from the chairman, according to industry sources.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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