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Korean conglomerates vow to invest billions as new president takes office

By Kim Yoon-kyoung & Kim Tae-gyu, UPI News Korea
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Korean conglomerates vow to invest billions as new president takes office
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong leaves Seoul Detention Center last August. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

SEOUL, May 27 (UPI) -- South Korea's conglomerates have announced plans to invest billions of dollars over the next five years as new President Yoon Suk-yeol takes office.

The country's leading Samsung Group announced Wednesday it would invest $356 billion through 2026, up more than 30% from the previous five years, and employ 80,000 workers.

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Samsung vows to spend 80%, or $285 billion, in South Korea during the five-year term of Yoon, a former prosecutor.

The group said it would focus on next-generation growth engines, including fabless system semiconductors, foundry business and the biopharmaceutical industry.

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Hyundai Motor and its sister companies announced Tuesday they would spend $49.8 billion in the Korean market through 2025 to strengthen the competitiveness of their automotive businesses.

SK Group said it would channel $195 billion during the next five years into the chip, battery and biopharmaceutical industries, hiring 50,000 employees. It plans to spend 72.5%, or $142 billion, in South Korea.

No. 4 conglomerate LG Group said Thursday it would invest $84 billion domestically in research, infrastructure and cutting-edge production facilities through 2026.

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Other major groups like Lotte and Hanwha also disclosed their five-year investment plans this week.

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Analysts questioned the timing of the investments, to coincide with the new president's term.

"I don't believe that such promises would be 100% kept. For one, the groups pledged to recruit more than 250,000 new employees, which are about one-third of their payrolls. It's hard to accept," Seoul-based business tracker Leaders Index founder Park Ju-gun told UPI News Korea.

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"That's why some doubt that the investment plans have non-economic incentives, like striving to gain special pardons," he said.

The country's economic organizations have asked the government to give special pardons to tycoons including Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin so that they would be able to concentrate on leading their businesses.

Both were jailed for cases related to bribing an adviser to former President Park Geun-hye.

The two tycoons have been released on parole. Hence, their participation in the management has caused controversy. In addition, Samsung's Lee is going through other court trials involving Samsung units.

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