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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 11)

2018/07/11 07:03

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Moon at Samsung plant

President should communicate more with business leaders

President Moon Jae-in and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Samsung's new mobile phone plant in Noida, southeast of New Delhi, Monday.

The ceremony was one of the highlights of Moon's four-day state visit to India, a key partner in his New Southern Policy.

There is nothing new about the President visiting Korean companies during overseas trips. President Moon visited a Hyundai plant during his visit to Chongqing, China, last December. But his meeting with Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong gained special attention because it was the first time for Moon to meet Lee since taking office in May 2017. It was also the first time for Moon to take part in an event organized by the country's largest conglomerate.

Lee had been imprisoned for almost a year following a bribery scandal that resulted in the early removal of former President Park Geun-hye from office. He was released in February and his appeal is ongoing. Lee accompanied the leaders of Korea and India as they looked around the new facility, which is the world's largest mobile phone factory.

Lee was seen bowing deeply to Moon during their meeting. The President congratulated him on the opening of the new Noida plant and lauded Samsung for playing a huge role in India's economic development.

Their meeting took place amid some tough times for Samsung. Its status as the world's leading smartphone maker is being challenged by global rivals such as China's Xiaomi. Samsung took the No.1 position in the Indian market in 2010, but Chinese brands are catching up quickly. Xiaomi overtook Samsung as the top-selling smartphone brand in India between October and December 2017.

The Moon administration has been viewed as "anti-business" for policies that are feared to burden companies. The President's push to raise the minimum wage, introduce shorter workweeks and reduce irregular workers has triggered concerns in the business sector. Moon has been criticized for not listening to the position of businesses while pursuing these huge changes for the nation's companies and workforce.

The meeting with the Samsung Electronics vice chairman hopefully signals Moon's openness to improving relations with the conglomerates that have been viewed as part of the "accumulated evils" of Korean society for their past ties with politicians. The conglomerates have an indispensable role in the President's drive to create more jobs and improve the economy. Moon should meet with them more often and find out how he can help them better serve this role.

(END)

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