Samsung's Human Network Recruitment of Former Regulators
Samsung's Human Network Recruitment of Former Regulators
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  • 승인 2005.08.01 12:01
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Acivic organization's report on Samsung Group's recruitment of bureaucrats, lawyers and journalists is not surprising, as it confirms the power of money. What is surprising, however, is how the 278 elites of Korean society were woven into the human network of the Samsung empire in the 1990s. Civic leaders' concerns about Samsung's excessive and omnipotent power may be somewhat exaggerated but cannot be cast aside as totally groundless. The ongoing debate must deal with not only legal, but also ethical, issues concerning corporate management. The report by the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) significantly demonstrates Samsung's influence and magnetic attraction, as well as its elaborate and comprehensive system of personnel management. PSPD says that unless the nation holds the gigantic conglomerate in check, the nation's democracy and economy will face a serious threat. In this era of global competition, however, the attraction of talent should hardly be criticized in itself. Any experienced businessperson would also know that corporate power is based on human resources. Still, a look at the list of new appointees reveals something strange. Out of the 74 former bureaucrats that wore a Samsung uniform over the past decade, 61 of them, or 82 percent, were from regulatory and judiciary agencies. Would it be wrong for an objective watcher to conclude that what Samsung is aiming is taking control of two of the most vulnerable points of Korean society _ people-topeople networks and legal loopholes When Samsung attempted to jump into the already-overcrowded automobile industry in the 1990s, for instance, it recruited three officials from the relevant ministry responsible for the auto industry. The problem is that the rules regarding government employees taking jobs with private companies are loose and ineffective. The law restricts the job-change only when the officials' duties are closely related to their new jobs, but it is as good as non-existent by narrowly defining "job relevance." Out of the 130 government employees who switched to private firms last year, only four were affected by the Public Officials' Ethics Law. Some businesses even "launder" the careers of their recruits by stationing them in nonprofit affiliates, such as research bodies, for some time. The legal loopholes should be closed and government employees rearmed with public servants' ethics. But more serious than this recruitment expediency is Samsung's managerial philosophy. If the nation's largest conglomerate resorts to lobbying and human networking rather than seeking transparent management, it would be unfortunate - not only for the group but also the entire economy. Would it be wrong to expect the most profitable company to also be the most ethical This is neither to ignore Samsung's economic contribution nor to attack chaebol in general. Rather, it is to make the industrial players that can represent the nation better compete on the international stage by getting rid of old-style collusion. As Korea's flagship company, Samsung should also take the lead in ethical management. Cloning Man's Best Friend Another Great Stride in Genetics It seems the only good news Koreans hear these days comes from their biotechnological pioneers, led by Professor Hwang Woo-suk. Hwang and his Seoul National University research team announced that they have successfully cloned a dog for the first time in the world. It has barely been three months since they created the first human embryonic stem cells genetically matching those of injured or sick patients. The sheer effort and dedication these cloning experts have shown deserve national appreciation and encouragement. The cloning of dogs means not just adding one more to the long list of successfully duplicated animals. Scientists agree that canines are the most difficult to clone - harder than even primates, some dare say - due to complexity in almost every stage of the process. This is why those U.S. scientists who succeeded in cloning cats gave it up thereafter. Three years of self-sacrificing toil, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, have enabled the Koreans to attain what an American expert described as the "Mount Everest of cloning." Dogs get many of the same diseases as people, including cancer, diabetes, dementia and even sleeping disorders. So, if the SNU team is able to make dog embryonic stem cells and use them in treatments, it would mark a great stride toward human gene therapy. Another hopeful possibility is that we might preserve and restore endangered animals such as Korean tigers, wolves and foxes. Hwang's refusal to clone pets reflects his concern about commercialism. Still, it is good for the government to provide extensive support to make Korea "the center of the cloning universe," as Hwang's foreign consultant, Prof. Gerald Shatten at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, put it. Continuous governmental help is needed to set up an international stem cell bank here by October. Also necessary is the cultivation of scientists, who can help and succeed Prof. Hwang. Alongside semiconductors and other IT technologies, it should be biotechnology that Korea shows to the world. There are a number of tasks to be overcome in meeting that goal, however. The foremost problem is how to improve the low efficiency of cloning. The research team said their success rate was 1.6 percent, or two successful births from 123 surrogate mother dogs, but the rate plunges to 0.18 percent when divided by 1,095 cloned embryos. The other more serious issue is ethics. Hwang rules out human cloning as ethically and technologically unthinkable, but other scientists claim it will become possible in the not too distant future. The problem is not just his but that of all humankind. It is our hope that the latest biological achievement will help reinvigorate other sectors in the nation's slumping economy.

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