Chief of policy advisory panel reiterates reform of family-run conglomerates

SEOUL-- The chief of a de facto presidential transition team reiterated its commitment to reform South Korea's family-run conglomerates Sunday.

Kim Jin-pyo, the head of the presidential State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee, said that chaebol should give up their vested privileges and have sincere self-reflection for the sake of a fair market and society.

"South Korea has become a 'chaebol republic' under the misbelief that a small government is a good government," Kim said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. "All reforms face resistance, but we can't give up reforms because of that. We need to normalize chaebol's wrong vested rights."

Kim noted large corporations blame hard-line, aristocratic labor unions whenever talk of chaebol reform emerges.

"Of course, you need reform in the labor sectors, and if there is something wrong with labor unions, it should be fixed," he said. "But for the last 10 years, the government has been calling for only labor reform. From the union's perspective, they can ask why the government only pressures unions while not touching chaebol, which hold South Korea's strongest vested rights."

Kim, a former deputy minister and a four-term lawmaker, said he doesn't agree with the Korea Employers Federation's view that private enterprises are having difficult times because of growing calls to enhance job security for their irregular workers. On Thursday, Kim Young-bae, the vice chairman of the local business group, criticized President Moon's policy of turning all non-regular jobs in the public sector into regular employment.

"The KEF said part-time jobs are needed and are not merely bad jobs, but in order to have credibility in their opinions, non-regular workers should be paid the same as full-time employees when they do the same work," Kim Jin-pyo said. "The KEF and conglomerates first should spend some time on self-reflection, but what they do now is just criticizing the government's job reform."

Kim said a paradigm shift is needed for the government's policy on economic growth.

"A conglomerate-centered plan for trickle-down economics turned out to be the wrong policy," he said. "We need to make a paradigm shift to pursue an income-led growth policy accompanied by welfare and employment."

Moon, who took office May 10, has vowed to realize what he calls "an era of zero irregular jobs" in the public sector. Moon also promised to create 810,000 jobs in the public sector during his five-year presidency.

Kim said the Moon administration will become an exemplary model of a good employer.

"For this year, we will hire an additional 12,000 people in the public sector," he said. "The government will pave out income-led growth and give a message to private businesses out there.

Kim admitted that the new government's movement can be regarded as "pressure" for corporations, but he said it can bring good results in the end.

"Eventually, we need to guide the private businesses to make lots of good jobs," he said. "They can define our movement as 'pressure,' but I think it's alright for them to have that kind of pressure."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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