|Federation of Korean Industries Tower on Yeouido, Seoul / Yonhap|
By Nam Hyun-woo
|GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo|
They added the absence is in line with the lobby group's weakened influence in the Moon Jae-in administration, as it was neglected from a series of key government events.
According to the FKI, Huh's term will end this month and the business association has to appoint a new chairman at a members' meeting later this month. Huh has held the post for eight years by renewing his two-year terms four times.
However, nobody is emerging as a likely candidate, while FKI Standing Vice Chairman Kwon Tae-shin is also seeing his term expiring.
"In the past, a strong candidate usually appeared among its vice chairmen, who are comprised of leaders of domestic conglomerate," a source at a domestic conglomerate said.
"But it seems no one among the chairmen is willing to take the job, after the FKI's reputation has been undermined after former President Park Geun-hye's scandal."
Huh has been saying he wants to step down from the post since 2013, but has failed to follow through.
In 2017, he apologized to member companies for the group's involvement in the Park scandal and said he would resign from the post, but had to work another term as core members such as Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK and LG quit the group and there were no potential candidates to replace Huh.
The situation still remains harsh for the FKI.
After the scandal and core members' exit, the FKI's revenue from membership fees declined by approximately 80 percent, and it downsized its workforce and conducted reforms throughout its organization.
However, the FKI has been "completely" neglected in a string of key events between the government and the business community.
The FKI, which used to communicate with the government on organizing the president's economic delegation, has been left out of Moon's overseas delegations so far, including Moon's September visit to North Korea.
Apparently, the government is still shunning the FKI this year. It was excluded from Cheong Wa Dae's New Year meeting with businesses and Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki's meeting with business group leaders.
Huh attended President Moon's meeting with chaebol owners on Jan. 15, but was invited as the chairman of GS Group, not the head of the FKI.
"With the Moon government continuing to avoid the FKI, no one will likely step up for the FKI chairmanship without hesitation," the source said. "If this stalemate continues, Huh may have to serve another term."