South Korea’s Antitrust Watchdog Moves Away From Big Tech Regulations

South Korea’s antitrust regulator sought to defuse fears of a sweeping tech crackdown as it takes steps to rein in the influence of its fastest-growing online platforms, reported Bloomberg.

Regulators will impose only the minimum necessary regulations and intervene solely where it is imperative to do so, Joh Sung-wook, chairperson of the Korea Fair Trade Commission, told Bloomberg Television in Seoul. The agency’s priority is to prevent companies with dominant market power from abusing it and hurting competition, she added.

Internet titans Naver and Kakao shed more than US$10 billion of market value in a single day last month, as worries of a Chinese-style crackdown on their lucrative operations grow ahead of presidential elections next year. One lawmaker dubbed Kakao “a symbol of greed,” echoing growing public sentiment that internet giants are widening the country’s socioeconomic divide by encroaching into areas traditionally the domain of small businesses, such as food delivery and taxis.

Korea wants “a true, fair, transparent trade system and ecosystem where big companies and new entrants can grow and innovate together,” Joh said. That will ultimately benefit consumers and the industry as a whole, including big players like Kakao. “Trust us. We are here to help you.”

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