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AmCham Korea asks Pres. Moon to pardon Lee Jae-yong

Posted May. 21, 2021 07:23,   

Updated May. 21, 2021 07:23


The American Chamber of Commerce Korea made an official proposal to South Korean President Moon Jae-in that Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong be released from prison, announcing that it delivered a written letter to the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae to call for a pardon of Mr. Lee. AmCham Korea consists of around 800 U.S. businesses running in the South Korean market.  

The Financial Times on Thursday featured AmCham Korea Chairman James Kim’s interview and an exclusive written letter to the South Korean government. AmCham Korea said in the letter that the release of Mr. Lee will help accelerate U.S. President Joe Biden’s endeavors to build stable semiconductor supply networks across the United States, maintaining that South Korea’s standing as a strategic partner to the United States can be put at stake if Samsung as one of the largest semiconductor businesses does little to help President Biden’s efforts, according to the news report.

Chairman Kim commented in an interview with the Financial Times, “We believe that a pardon of the most important executive of Samsung is in the best economic interest of both the U.S. and Korea,” adding that the AmCham Korea’s 800 businesses with non-political disposition seek Mr. Lee’s early release just as many South Korean companies do.

President Biden has recently put constant pressure on Samsung Electronics to make investments in helping establish semiconductor supply networks across the United States. Economic analysts say that the AmCham Korea’s request for the pardon of the vice president of Samsung Electronics may intend to encourage corporate leadership to make swift decisions regarding investment in the United States.

Samsung Electronics plans to invest more than 20 trillion won in semiconductor factory lines in Austin, Texas. The Financial Times also reported on Thursday that Samsung considers expanding new semiconductor facilities in the United States with Austin, Phoenix and New York among many options.

Not only leaders from various industries and religious circles but also political leaders have constantly called for the release of Mr. Lee. The AmCham Korea’s request came two days before President Moon’s summit talk with his U.S. counterpart, garnering the attention of business leaders. AmCham Korea Chairman Kim talked about Mr. Lee’s imprisonment in a virtual press conference in January, describing it as a regrettable and South Korea-specific case. He said that the example of Mr. Lee shows how great risks CEOs in South Korea are faced with.

Dong-Il Seo dong@donga.com