The Korea Herald


LS Group president tipped as likely candidate for next KITA chairman

By Jo He-rim

Published : Feb. 16, 2021 - 15:51

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LS Group President Koo Ja-yeol (LS Group) LS Group President Koo Ja-yeol (LS Group)

LS Group Chairman Koo Ja-yeol has emerged as the most prominent candidate to become the next chairman of the Korea International Trade Association, according to industry sources on Tuesday.

As the next vice president, Hyundai Research Institute President and CEO Lee Dong-geun has been mentioned as a top contender.

Incumbent KITA chairman Kim Young-joo and full-time vice chairman Han Jin-hyun held a meeting with representatives of member companies on Tuesday to discuss potential candidates for the 31st KITA chairman.

Koo and several other candidates have registered as candidates in the meeting, sources said. LS Group confirmed that Koo has registered as a candidate upon recommendations from KITA, and Koo himself has also expressed a desire to take the lead.

In the next meeting slated on Friday, the current leadership would choose a single candidate and recommend him or her for the top job. The candidate will be formally appointed at the exporter group’s regular general meeting scheduled on Feb. 24, according to KITA.

While a list of potential candidates of government officials and company chiefs are being discussed, Koo, 68, is deemed the most plausible choice, according to industry officials.

If appointed, Koo would become the first KITA chief in 15 years who does not come from a civil service background. Since 2006, the association had been led by those who served in the government.

Koo’s late father, Koo Pyeong-hoe, former honorary chairman of energy firm E1, has served as KITA chairman for two terms, from 1994 to 1999.

LS Group affiliates include LS Cable & System and LS Electric, and they have been actively acquiring overseas contracts and increasing export.

The incumbent chairman Kim has been serving consecutive terms at KITA since he was appointed as the 29th chief at KITA in 2017. Kim expressed the will not to serve another term, and his term ends at the end of this month.

Kim served as trade minister from 2007 to 2008.

By Jo He-rim (