Korean Antitrust Watchdog Open To Putting Foreigners On Watch List

The Korean Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) Chairwoman Joh Sung-wook stressed that the Commission will not rule out adding foreigners to its chaebol “watch list,” following a controversial decision not to name Korean-American Kim Bom-suk, the founder and controlling shareholder of e-commerce giant Coupang, on its updated list, April 29.

Introduced in 1987, the watch list was mainly aimed at banning family members of big business conglomerates known as “chaebol” from awarding business contracts to affiliated companies and to prevent owners from using cross-shareholding and other practices to control their corporate empires despite holding a tiny stake.

“There should be an overhaul of the regulatory framework that can be more effectively implemented to control large business groups without discriminating against entrepreneurs due to their citizenship,” Joh said during a press conference at Government Complex Sejong, Tuesday, May 11.

This was the KFTC chief’s first meeting with reporters after it added Coupang to its new watch list, but not Kim due to his nationality.

The measure drew criticism that the KFTC lacks consistency and fairness in filing the list, considering that Korean entrepreneurs who were under a similar circumstance to Kim were targeted by the Commission.

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