By Kim Jae-heun
The CEOs of major retail firms here failed to show up at the annual National Assembly audits, where they could have faced tough questions regarding controversial issues their companies have been involved in over the past year.
Coupang CEO Kang Han-seung justified his absence by claiming health problems, and so was able to avoid questions regarding allegations of unfair trade practices, such as his company abusing its power over subcontractors.
LG Household & Healthcare (LG H&H) CEO Cha Suk-yong also skipped questioning by the Fair Trade Commission, Oct. 5, where he was supposed to speak about an issue related unfair trade practices regarding its franchises. Cha said that the case in question was currently involved in a lawsuit, so he could not comment on it.
McDonald’s Korea Managing Director Antoni Martinez’s name was removed from the list of witnesses compiled by the National Assembly Health and Welfare Committee. Rep. Lee Jong-seong of the conservative main opposition People Power Party said that he decided to leave Martinez out after McDonald’s Korea promised to come up with measures to prevent a recurrence of several recent incidents that breached the public’s trust.
According to a KBS report, the American fast food chain used expired hamburger buns and tortillas at a restaurant in Seoul last year. McDonald’s Korea punished the store manager of the branch and a part-time worker but took no further action. Police are still investigating the case. On top of this incident, McDonald’s Korea breached the Food Sanitation Act 76 times over the past three years.
Shin Dong-won, the chairman of Nongshim, and Ham Young-joon, the chairman of Ottogi, who were earlier listed as witnesses for audit by the Agriculture, Food, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Committee, were also exempted from questioning. The two companies had executives-in-charge attend the audit on their behalf, after promising to pursue plans supporting the mutual growth of their companies and farmers.