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Ruling party to tighten control on conglomerates

The ruling party resolved Friday to impose sanctions on conglomerates to alleviate the polarization of wealth and promote public welfare in a bid to appeal to voters ahead of the general elections.

The conservative Grand National Party, which has often been accused of favoring the rich, made a turn from its conventional business-friendly stance, but drew a line with the left-wing’s progressive policies.

The policy reform subcommittee of the party’s interim leadership council decided Friday to include the constitutional vision of economic democracy in the party’s platform, officials said.

According to the Constitution, the state is to maintain the growth and stability of the national economy, reasonably distribute wealth, and prevent market monopolization and economic abuse of power. It may also impose regulations and controls on the economy, and achieve harmony among economic units and economic democratization.

“The party will hereby drop the noninterference policies and reinforce the social responsibilities of large firms,” said Rep. Kwon Young-jin, member of the subcommittee.

“A fair market will never materialize, unless conglomerates discontinue monopolizing the market and infringing on the rights of smaller enterprises.”

The panel’s suggestion reflects the party’s determination to set up a new economic order, he also said.

“Conglomerates should take voluntary action to renew themselves,” said Rep. Lee Ju-young, the party’s policy committee chairman.

“Instead of pioneering new growth fields for the economy, they have been abusing their distribution networks and finances to encroach the people’s small businesses, such as bakeries, restaurants and supermarkets.”

The GNP’s progressive moves, however, should be differentiated from the opposition camp’s economic policies, Kwon said.

“The left-wing’s idea of economic democratization is to achieve social justice by distributing wealth evenly,” he said.

“The GNP’s goal is to protect the market, small enterprises and consumers from power abuse by giant corporations.”

The tone of the party platform will also be altered from its previous declaration format to pledges to the people, he said.

Despite earlier disputes, the term “conservative” is to remain but abstract expressions such as “development” and “populism” will be eliminated from the GNP platform.

Amid its efforts to get closer to the public, the ruling party decided Thursday to change its official name by next week.

This will be the first time the right-wing party has changed its name since it began in 1997 through a party merger.

The GNP has been grappling with falling poll numbers, especially after a recent series of scandals. The latest involves parliamentary speaker and former GNP leader Park Hee-tae, who is accused of offering cash to party members for votes prior to a leadership election back in 2008.

By Bae Hyun-jung (
Korea Herald Youtube