President Moon Jae-in promised to continue holding frequent discussions with the country's top business leaders on issues that may affect their business, noting the country's growth as well as the success of his administration may depend on them, an official from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.
Moon's pledge for continued discussions in the future came at a rare meeting, over beer, with the top executives of seven leading business conglomerates, including Hyundai Motor, LG and POSCO, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun.
The rest were Hanwha, Shinsegae, Doosan and CJ.
Meetings between the president and top business leaders may not be anything new, Cheong Wa Dae officials noted, as they had frequently been held under former governments, often following a change in economic policy.
Thursday's meeting, however, was the first of its kind, Cheong Wa Dae officials said, noting it involved beer instead of wine and that it had no set agenda.
Also, unlike in previous meetings, the new president only listened to what the businesspeople had to say, instead of telling them what to do or how best to support his government.
"It will mark the first meeting with business leaders since the president's inauguration and will mark an unprecedented meeting that defies all formalities," Hong Jang-pyo, the chief presidential secretary for economic affairs, told reporters earlier.
Earlier in the week, the new administration announced the direction of its economic policy for the next five years, focusing on more jobs and increased income for laborers, which will inevitably require support from local firms.
The new government has noted its policy objectives and 100 policy tasks may require an additional 178 trillion won (US$159.6 billion) in government spending over the 2018-2022 period.
The government is now moving to increase tax rates for so-called super-rich individuals and businesses, which will likely affect all the businesses taking part in this week's meeting with the president.
Moon is set to meet with the chief executives of seven other leading conglomerates here on Friday. They are Samsung, SK, Lotte, GS, Hyundai Heavy, KT and Hanjin groups.
The participants in Thursday's meeting promised support for Moon's key policy objectives, which include creating more than 1 million new, quality or full-time jobs in the private and public sectors during his single five-year term.
For instance, Keum Choon-soo, vice chairman of Hanwha Group, said his firm was already contributing to job creation through its new project to build and expand a solar energy cluster in the central Chungcheong region, also introducing plans to hire some 850 irregular workers as full-time, regular employees, according to Park.
"The talks were held in a very free atmosphere. Instead of each participant speaking and then the president offering an answer, the president would speak, ask questions or hold in-depth discussions with each one speaking," the spokesman told a press briefing. "And thus, there were no closing remarks by the president either."
Thursday's meeting was originally set to last 75 minutes from 6 p.m.
Cheong Wa Dae officials earlier said no time limit had been set to allow free and candid discussions between the president and the local business leaders, and the meeting lasted well over 2 hours, ending at around 8:30 p.m.
Cheong Wa Dae has said the president plans to hold talks with "all major economic players," including labor and small business owners, to listen to their own opinions regarding his plans for Asia's fourth-largest economy. (Yonhap)