The chief of South Korea's state-run power provider has recently offered to step down, a senior government official said Tuesday, raising speculations his company's confrontations with the government over energy policy may have affected his surprise decision.
Kim Joong-kyum, the CEO of the Korea Electric Power Corporation has recently submitted his resignation to the presidential office, the official at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said, without elaborating.
It is not immediately known why Kim offered to quit, but market observers say a series of recent conflicts with the government over an electricity rate spike may have led him to step down from his post.
The KEPCO's move to raise the electricity rates by double digits earlier this year faced a strong backlash over fears that it could have a bad impact on voters grappling with rising living costs in an election year.
In August, the state energy provider announced a much lower than expected 4.9 percent surge for electricity rates.
In protest, the KEPCO announced later that month that it was going to file a 4.4 trillion won ($4.03 billion) suit against the Korea Power Exchange and the KEPCO's cost evaluation committee members, claiming that it has lost money because they unreasonably set power purchase cost below market price.
The move fell through, however, after the Ministry of Knowledge Economy warned against the move, saying such a legal action could disrupt the energy market.
Following the friction, speculations rose that the presidential office may sack the former Hyundai Construction CEO, who was appointed to the post in September last year for a three-year term.
The 62-year-old was once considered a close aide of President Lee Myung-bak, who served as the construction company's chief before entering politics.