* Date : 2017-03-04
Foreign Correspondents Ep.23
Arrest of Samsung Group heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong
A Seoul court approved the arrest of Samsung Group heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong on February 17 after a first request was denied just about a month ago. Special prosecutors have accused Lee of bribery, embezzlement, and hiding assets overseas among others. News of the de-facto Samsung leader's arrest made rapid headlines around the world, with many focusing on how Lee's absence would impact Samsung as a whole. Also thrown into the spotlight were Korea's sprawling 'chaebol' and how public ire has been mounting over the years about their dominant influence in society.
What are 'chaebol'?
Chaebol refer to family-controlled conglomerates in Korea. They were largely born from government-led economic development policies back in the 1960s. Under state-driven financial support and eased regulations, they were able to grow exponentially in size, amassing great wealth in the process. While it is hard to deny the significant contributions chaebol have made over the years to Korea's economic development, the business groups have also attracted criticism for increasing social polarization, collusion between business and government, and hurting small businesses. As a result, more people have been calling for reform within the chaebol community. We sit down to discuss various issues surrounding Korea's powerful chaebol groups.