[DECODED X] Safety First
DECODED X is more than just news.
It's a weekly brief of critical political and economic events in Korea and their takeaway, created by The Investor staff for an exclusive group of opinion leaders.
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In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of the Sept.7 issue of DECODED X.
Given the past experience with North Korea, it seems unlikely anything drastic will happen on the peninsula despite lingering fears worldwide.
Above all, Kim Jong-un wants to stay alive. It’s not really even about the regime anymore. It’s about clinging to what he has.
So a war, or an attack does not seem to be on the cards. But it’s hard to convince everyone about this, and ticket sales are pretty slow for the forthcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, among the people taking advantage of this is none other than the North Korean dictator who is said to be stock-rich. After all, he’s the one who best knows the timing of the next missile launch or nuclear test. All he has to do is trade stocks keeping in mind the intended schedule.
WORLD CLASS RIVALRY
Samsung and LG were at it again. Their rivalry and sparring intensifies each time at global showcasing events. This time, it was at IFA in Berlin.
Samsung spoke scornfully about the V30, its crosstown rival’s latest flagship smartphone that was revealed at the trade show. Among the many discourteous views exchanged, company officials said the V30 is not worth the expected US$1,000 price tag.
LG too was critical of Samsung’s QuickDrive washing machine, with officials telling people on the sidelines that it wasn’t up to IFA or European standards.
Meanwhile, there are rumors that the V30 may not be able to begin selling later this month. LG is reportedly having a tough time trying to secure batteries and memory parts, a deja vu situation of the G5. The Investor is investigating.
NO WOMAN, NO CRY
Mayor Park Won-soon was in a bit of a situation when he met International Labour Organization Director General Guy Ryder on Sept.5. Ryder pointed out that there were no women among the portraits of former mayors, and asked if maybe the next mayor would be of the opposite sex. Park was literally at a loss for words.
What Guy doesn’t know is that Park wants to run for a third term, and his rivals will include women.
END OF A BROMANCE?
Fair Trade Commission Chief Kim Sang-jo is known to be "chummy" with the heads of Korea's top conglomerates, including Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor.
The two are said to meet from time to time to discuss Hyundai Motor's corporate governance issues. Recently, Kim gave Chung a two-thumbs-up for his smooth managerial skills and for having a good head on his shoulders, possibly in comparison to Samsung's Lee Jae-yong.
But people are now a bit confused because before, Kim had said he wouldn't take action before Hyundai Motor started to make some preemptive action.
But on Sept.1, Kim said Hyundai Motor would be included in the group of four (along with SK, LG and Samsung) to shape up by the end of this year.
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
Samsung CEOs have been voicing their thoughts about the jail term handed down to heir Lee Jae-yong and his absence.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun sent out a message to employees on Aug.28, saying that Samsung was in crisis. At the IFA event in Germany, Yoon Boo-keun, head of the firm’s consumer electronics business, also lamented the absence of Lee.
Now all eyes are on what kind of message other key executives such as Shin Jong-kyun and Koh Don-jin have to say.
These comments may be a factor influencing society or public opinion to drive home why Jae-yong needs to be released as his defense team prepares for an appeal.
Chaebol reforms are always a fun topic, and this time, investors are fishing for whatever will be up for grabs once Korean conglomerates start to shed their weight, according to the AVCJ Private Equity and Venture Forum that was at the Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul on Sept. 7.
The only problem is, reforms actually have been going on since the ’90s, and more rapidly after the Asian financial crisis, meaning most quality assets have been sold off.
But there are other opportunities, according to the forum participants who are mainly from the private equity sector. These would be mid-tier conglomerates who are trying to trim down to focus on their core competence.
Investors at the event also advised foreign private equity firms to open shop in Korea and employ local staff if they are to succeed, since networking is still the best way to get things done here.
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