Most Koreans believe that cozy ties with the government have enabled corporate behemoths like Samsung and Hyundai Motor to achieve massive growth that dwarfs all other enterprises. In a survey, 75.6 percent said the government’s conglomerate-centered policies are the reason for their stupendous profits, and a mere 3.8 percent attributed them to the efforts of the conglomerates alone.
Eleven percent of respondents cited stable cooperation and parts supply from small and medium-sized enterprises, and 9.6 percent the sacrifice and support of the people.
The survey of 1,000 people in their 20s through 60s was published by the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business on Wednesday. They were allowed to give multiple answers. It shows an overwhelming belief that the success of the big corporations or chaebol was possible not because of their own efforts but because other factors smoothed their path.
But a big majority of 70.2 percent also credited all businesses, big and small, with having played the most important role in helping the country turn from one of the world’s poorest countries to the world’s 11th largest economy. Next were individual households (15.4 percent) and the government (13.8 percent).
A massive majority of 80.7 percent, however, do not believe that big conglomerates and SMEs have grown in parallel. That was especially true among professionals and highly educated office workers.
Asked what the reason for the imbalance is, 60.1 percent cited the government’s conglomerate-centered policies. Next came the top-down business structure in Korea (31.2 percent), insufficient recognition of SMEs (5.5 percent), and SMEs’ lack of capability (3.2 percent).
More than 90 percent of respondents worried about the growing gap between the massive profits of the chaebol and struggling smaller businesses.
Other social problems cited were the widening income gap and growing unemployment. Some 80 percent of respondents also saw a collapse of the middle class, falling population and an aging society.