By Park Si-soo

Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chairman Park Yong-maan has played a key role in lifting the business association’s status significantly against its rival, the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), officials said Friday.

The KCCI has long lagged the FKI, the business lobby for top conglomerates, in terms of influence in the nation’s overall economy. But the KCCI is winning the title of the nation’s biggest business association.

Observers say Park is the major reason for this.

The chairman of Doosan Group took the helm of the KCCI in August 2013. He has since lifted its status and influence by bringing several influential tycoons into the lobby group’s boardroom

They include Amore Pacific CEO Suh Kyung-bae, Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, Hyundai Marine and Fire Insurance Chairman Chung Mong-yun and Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin.

He has also frequently appeared in high-profile events attended by President Park Geun-hye, speaking about major business issues.

His aggressiveness means he has been portrayed in the media as a representative of Korean industry. As a result, Park had a one-on-one meeting with Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan in January and main opposition party leader Moon Jae-in the following month, where they discussed various issues to revive the economy.

In contrast, FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo has maintained a low-profile.

“The KCCI’s rise is good news for us,” a FKI spokesman said. “There is no rivalry between the two organizations. We and the KCCI are working toward the same goal of making a better environment for business.”

Established in 1961, the FKI represents major conglomerates such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and SK Group. The KCCI, established in 1884, represents more than 150,000 small and large companies here. Major conglomerates are registered with both.

Seminar on same date

A KCCI official agreed that there is not rivalry with the FKI, calling it an “important partner”

“It seems that we draw bigger attention from the public these days because our role and representation are in sync with the state agenda of co-prosperity of big and small enterprises,” the official said. “In this regard, it would be quite natural that we are closer to the media spotlight than the FKI representing only big companies. ”

The two associations appear to be in harmony on the surface. Underneath, however, this seems unlikely, with the FKI unhappy with the KCCI’s rise.

Observers said the FKI’s hosting of its summer seminar on the same day of a similar event held by the KCCI was evidence backing this claim

The KCCI will host an annual gathering of member companies’ leaders on Jeju Island on July 22-25. But the FKI recently decided to host its own semi-annual seminar on the same day in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province. The two locations are far from each other, meaning attending the two events on the same day is all but impossible.

KCCI officials said they had fixed the July seminar’s timetable last year, arguing the FKI’s plan was to hamper its event. The FKI denies the allegations, saying the date was picked because of the schedule of VIP guests and key speakers.

SOURCE: The Korea Times