Go to contents

Businesses Desperate to Enhance U.S-Korean Relationship

Posted May. 01, 2003 22:13,   


The financial community is going all out to prevent the recently worsened U.S. and South Korean relationship from having a deadly impact on the Korean economy. They are trying hard to improve their relationship with the U.S. as will become apparent when President Roh visits the U.S. on May 11th.

Accompanying the President will be the heads of major five economic institutions such as the Federation of Korean Industries, Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Korea International Trade Association, Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business and the Korea Employers’ Federation including chairmen of the three big conglomerates (Samsung, LG and Hyundai Motors). This will be the first time that Samsung Group’s Chairman Lee Gun-hee takes an overseas visit along with the President. Group chairmen for Pungsan, Hanwha and Colon who already have a relationship with President George W. Bush are also willing to do their best to mend the bilateral relationship.

On May 1, some 10 major economic figures including FKI Chairman Sohn Gil-seung, Korean Airlines President Cho Yang-ho, Dongyang Cement President Hyun Jae-hyun, Hyosung Advisor Kim Jin-hyun and Seoul Securities President Kang Chan-soo visited the U.S. Army stationed in Uijongbu, Kyonggi Province to offer a pep-talk to the U.S. soldiers there.

“The U.S. Army is contributing a lot to maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula,” said Chairman Sohn at the event. “Re-deploying the U.S. Army should be discussed fully with a sufficient amount of time since it is important for the security of Northeast Asia as well as the Korean Peninsula.”

He also talked about the U.S. & South Korean Friendship Promotion Program that the Korean business community has been conducting. He requested that they publicize such efforts to other U.S. personnel.

These efforts made by the business community can be attributed to the fact that the economy is not separate from politics any more than in the past. “Such problems as the North Korean nuclear issue, re-deployment of the U.S. Army and anti-American sentiment have become serious obstacles for business activities in Korea,” said FKI`s U.S.-Korean Cooperation Team Executive Director Jang Guk-hyun. “These problems are more serious than any trade dispute.” He added, “We have come forward to wipe away any possible misunderstandings between the two nations while showing them that businesses and the government are on the same track.”

Business communities are planning cooperation programs to enhance the bilateral relationship. Last month, President George W. Bush was invited to Korea, and there will be an investment session in the U.S. in June. In July, a business meeting will be held between Korean and U.S. enterprises while also supporting U.S. veterans visiting Korea to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. They further intend to hold other programs to support the U.S. Army stationed in Korea.

Yeon-Su Shin Keuk-In Bae ysshin@donga.com bae2150@donga.com