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'Transformed' FKI vows to boost transparency, take on more think tank role

The Federation of Korean Industries, the largest lobby body for large companies here, said Friday that it would boost transparency and switch to the role of a think tank for the corporate sector.

Huh Chang-soo, chairman of the FKI, announced a set of reform measures that centers around its pledge to cut its murky connection with the political circle and the government, and to better serve as a think tank for the corporate sector and society as a whole.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Among others, in a gesture to show its pledge, the FKI changed its official Korean name, although its English title remains unaltered.

The measures came amid a mass withdrawal of key FKI members, including Samsung Group and Hyundai Motor Group, following the corruption scandal involving what is believed to be illicit donations arranged by the FKI for two sports foundations controlled by President Park Geun-hye's friend, Choi Soon-sil.

The two leading business groups, along with many others, including SK and LG groups, have quit the business lobby after they and the FKI were implicated in the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of the now former President Park.

The four business groups -- Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK and LG -- and their affiliates are said to have accounted for nearly half of the 50 billion won ($43.6 million) the FKI collected in membership fees last year.

Huh, also chairman of energy and retail giant GS Group, said the FKI will redouble efforts to make its operations more transparent and clean, and sever collusive links between the political and business circles.

The FKI has been under growing pressure to come up with drastic measures that will keep it from being disbanded outright.

In response to growing calls for the reform, the FKI has vowed to survive through a painstaking reform.

In the past, the FKI, established in 1961, has served as a key entity to spearhead the country's stellar economic performance under the state-led economic development strategies.

But recently the organization has been under a negative spotlight after the scandal broke, with its fate becoming one of the key issues regarding the country's chaebol reforms.

Besides the FKI, which has always been seen as representing the interests of big companies, South Korea has the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has some 160,000 members that encompasses a broader range of firms. (Yonhap)

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