The Korea Herald


Former biz leaders receive mixed results in election

Ex-Samsung president wins; ex-Hyundai Motor president suffers loss

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : April 11, 2024 - 14:53

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Koh Dong-jin (left), former president of Samsung Electronics, and Kong Young-woon, former president of Hyundai Motor (Yonhap/Newsis) Koh Dong-jin (left), former president of Samsung Electronics, and Kong Young-woon, former president of Hyundai Motor (Yonhap/Newsis)

Former corporate executives who ran for a seat at the National Assembly received mixed results as the votes from the general election were announced Thursday.

The two headliners -- Koh Dong-jin, former president of Samsung Electronics, and Kong Young-woon, former president of Hyundai Motor -- found each other on opposite ends of the spectrum as the former won while the latter suffered a loss.

Koh, who joined the ruling People Power Party in January, confirmed victory in the Gangnam-C constituency, as the National Election Committee announced late Wednesday that Koh had earned about 65 percent of the votes as his district’s ballot count reached 62 percent. He defeated the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea’s Park Kyung-mee, former spokesperson at the presidential office from 2021 to 2022.

Koh is known as one of the major players behind the launch of the Samsung Galaxy range of mobile devices. He worked his way up to the president position for more than 30 years after joining the IT giant in 1984.

On the other hand, Kong, who joined the Democratic Party in January, experienced a rollercoaster election day, eventually facing defeat in the Hwaseong-B constituency in Gyeonggi Province.

The exit polls, which were revealed after the polls closed at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, showed that Kong, with 43.7 percent of the vote, had secured a slim lead against Lee Jun-seok, a prominent figure in the political scene and former leader of the ruling People Power Party who launched the New Reform Party after he was sacked from his position, with 40.5 percent.

As more ballots were counted, Kong and Lee took turns for the lead. The back-and-forth continued throughout the night before Lee was able to claim victory as he had secured 42.9 percent of the vote with nearly 100 percent of the votes counted as of 2:50 a.m. Kong conceded to his opponent.

Kong began his career as a reporter in 1991 and joined Hyundai Motor in 2005. He finished his corporate career as the president in charge of strategic planning and communications in 2022.

Choi Eun-seok, former CEO of CJ CheilJedang who ran for a parliamentary seat with the People Power Party, took a relatively easier triumph in Daegu, where he secured nearly 75 percent of the votes in the Dong Gunwi-A constituency.

People Power Party candidate Kang Chul-ho, former CEO of HD Hyundai Robotics and chairman of the Korea Association of Robot Industry, faced Democratic Party candidate Lee Un-ju, a former lawmaker and the youngest female executive at S-Oil, in Yongin-D, Gyeonggi Province. The latter won the close battle with 51 percent of the votes.

Lee Jae-sung, a former executive at gaming giant NCSoft who was the first businessperson recruited by the Democratic Party and the party’s second overall recruitment, ran for a seat in the Saha-B constituency in Busan against Cho Kyoung-tae, a five-time lawmaker. Lee lost the race as Cho took 56 percent of the votes.