Korean Capitalist Corps Samsung, the Hyundai Motor Company, SK and LG Funded Rightist Gangsters With $5.98 Million-They Attacked member of a Sewol sinking victim’s family

Korean Capitalist Corps Samsung, the Hyundai Motor Company, SK and LG Funded Rightist Gangsters With $5.98 Million-They Attacked member of a Sewol sinking victim’s family
Nearly $6 million flowed from chaebol to far right groups over three years
Posted on : Jan.31,2017 17:24 KSTModified on : Jan.31,2017 17:24 KST
Members of the Korea Parents Federation and other right-wing groups hold a protest outside Yeongdeungpo Police Station in Seoul on Sep. 19, 2014, after a driver was allegedly assaulted by a member of a Sewol sinking victim’s family. (Yonhap News)
Alongside blacklist, government also put together whitelist of groups that received financial support
The investigative team of Special Prosecutors has learned that the Blue House received money from South Korea’s four largest chaebols (Samsung, the Hyundai Motor Company, SK and LG) to fund pro-government demonstrations by conservative and far-right organizations such as the Korean Parent Federation (KPF) and the Moms Brigade. An executive from Samsung’s Future Strategy Office personally attended all the fundraising meetings, which were organized by the Office of the Blue House Senior Secretary for Political Affairs, to discuss the amount of funding and the organizations to support. Former Blue House Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon (currently under arrest) was also closely involved, urging the leading chaebol to provide financial support to these organizations. Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo is weighing the option of charging Kim and others with abusing their power by implementing not only a blacklist for suppressing those on the left but also a whitelist for supporting those on the right.
According to sources with the Special Prosecutor’s team and in business on Jan. 30, Shin Dong-cheol and Jung Gwan-ju, former secretaries at the Office of the Blue House Senior Secretary for Political Affairs, met regularly with Samsung Future Strategy Office Senior Managing Director Kim Wan-pyo and Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) Vice Chairman Lee Seung-cheol between 2014 and 2016 to discuss funding organizations that would organize pro-government and pro-business assemblies and demonstrations. At these meetings, the Blue House reportedly requested financial aid for 10 right-wing groups that it had selected, including the KPF, the Moms Brigade, the Korean Disabled Veteran’s Association by Agent-Orange in Vietnam War, and Zeitgeist.

Portraits of former President Park Chung-hee (left, in office 1961-79) next to his daughter and current President Park Geun-hye hang in the office of the Korea Parent Federation, a right-wing group, in Seoul’s Jongno district, Apr. 21. (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)
By tracking bank accounts, the Special Prosecutor’s team confirmed that over 7 billion won (US$5.98 million) flowed from these four chaebols to conservative and far-right organizations over the past three years. Samsung, the country’s largest chaebol, provided the most financial support. Typically, Samsung and the FKI would determine the total amount of support and assign smaller amounts to the Hyundai Motor Company, SK and LG. Over 2 billion won was given in 2014, which surged to 3.3 or 3.4 billion won in 2015, the year after the Sewol ferry sinking. The total amount of funding decreased to around 1 billion won last year, after charges were raised in Apr. 2016 that the Blue House had used the FKI to fund the KPF and after the Choi Sun-sil scandal broke.
Sources with the Special Prosecutor’s team explained that the four biggest chaebols were used to fund conservative and right-wing organizations (starting in 2014, President Park Geun-hye’s second year in office) in a manner similar to how the Mir and K-Sports Foundations were established. The Office of the Blue House Senior Secretary for Political Affairs raised a huge amount - 7 billion won over three years - that the FKI used to “voluntarily” fund 10 or so organizations, including the KPF and the Moms Brigade.
But the purpose of the funding was much more overt than with the Mir and K-Sports Foundations, which at least had the plausible goal of bringing about a renaissance in culture and sports. By holding secret meetings and providing billions of won in funding to pro-government and pro-business groups that occupy the far right of the country‘s ideological spectrum, the Blue House and the country’s best-known global chaebols entered unchartered territory in the collaboration between government and big business, critics say. The revelation that the four largest chaebols provided direct funding to organizations that are opposed to economic democratization is likely to have political fallout, coinciding as it does with the early presidential election.
Kim Wan-pyo played a critical role in this process. While it had been previously assumed that FKI chairman Lee Seung-cheol had severed as the go-between, Samsung reportedly worked directly with the FKI to determine the amount of funding, with Kim personally attending the related meetings. That is to say, Samsung did not hesitate to participate in meetings organized to provide large sums of money to organizations that would obviously create a social uproar and damage Samsung’s corporate image if they came to light.
Samsung, which donated 20.4 billion won (more than any other company) to the Mir and K-Sports Foundations, claims that it was a “victim” and that the Blue House extorted that money. But these conservative and far-right organizations were funded in a similar manner, and the fact that Samsung took the initiative in funding them undermines its claims of being the victim of extortion.
The Special Prosecutor’s team placed Shin Dong-cheol, former Blue House Public Relations Secretary, under arrest and filed charges against him on Jan. 30 and announced that it is planning to do the same to Kim Ki-choon before long. While the team has already charged Kim with extortion and abuse of power in connection with his composition and implementation of the blacklist designed to suppress artists on the left, it is also looking into the possibility of charging Kim with ordering the implementation of a whitelist for funding people on the right.
With this in mind, the Special Prosecutor‘s team once again called in Kim Ki-choon and former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Cho Yoon-sun on Jan. 30 for additional questioning. Recently, the team has questioned people who served as Blue House Senior Secretaries for Political Affairs between 2014 and 2016 - including Cho, Park Jun-woo and Hyeon Gi-hwan - to investigate the triangle linking the Blue House, Samsung and the FKI, and right-wing groups.
As concrete evidence of Kim’s involvement comes to light, the Special Prosecutor‘s team is also leaving open the possibility that Park Geun-hye was aware of the composition and implementation not only of the blacklist but of the whitelist as well.
By Kim Nam-il and Seo Young-ji, staff reporters