Top news: One head must roll in Seoul

The top headline all day in South Korea has been the struggle at the head of the Seoul Philharmonic between chief executive Park Hyun-jung, who has been accused of bullying and sexual harrassment, and the artistic leadership of Myung Whun Chung, the music director.

Park, a member of the country’s political-industrial elite, has accused the conductor of staging a coup against her. Her supporters in the Korean media describe it as ‘a difference in perspective between a liberal, inefficient art organization and a corporate CEO used to efficiency and productivity.’

Clearly, one of them will have to go. And from what we hear, it’s touch and go which of them will fall.

chung vspark seoul

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  • Sounds like buck-passing to me. After all, Ms Park “already partly admitted having verbally abused her employees” (Korea Times), after having been confronted with an audio tape where she was insulting employees and cursing the orchestra’s foreign cooperation partners.
    The Korea Times reports that her claims were inconsistent throughout:
    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2014/12/143_169371.html
    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2014/12/202_169451.html

  • “A corporate CEO used to efficiency and productivity” – hmm… is this some new definition of efficiency/productivity or what?

    Within less than two years at the Seoul Phil, Mrs Park (as the JongAan Daily newspaper says), has achieved the following:
    * the number of orchestra sponsors have dropped from 44 to 11
    * 13 admin staffs (out of 27) have resigned and 17 current admin staffs have written a petition accusing Mrs Park of bullying, nepotism, inefficiency, sexual harassment, sexual assault and insult towards the orchestra’s foreign cooperation partners

    And the Chosun Ilbo newspaper says in their Korean edition that there were similar problems with Mrs Park at her former workplace (Samsung Life Insurance):

    http://premium.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2014/12/07/2014120702381.html?csmain
    http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2998044&cloc=joongangdaily

  • CEO Park’s father, a politician, was part of the old political establishment. He was economy advisor of military dictator Chun Doo-hwan (Chun was especially infamous for the suppression of the Gwangju uprising in 1980 during which thousands of innocent civilians were massacred) and minister at Roh Tae-Woo’s government 1988-1993 (Roh Tae-Woo was complicit in the Gwangju massacre):
    http://www.pressian.com/news/article.html?no=122224
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=1AaVAgAAQBAJ&pg=PT172&dq=박봉환&hl=en&sa=X&ei=TpqFVOiBNcP2Oq7sgbgG&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=박봉환&f=false

    Is this perhaps where CEO Park’s alleged methods come from? Just wondering…

  • Myung Whun Chung has done wonders for that orchestra. Ms. Park may hail from the industrial elite but she clearly knows precious little about running orchestras. She also seems to have forgotten that the Chung family has the status of a national treasure in Korea. I do not believe she can possibly survive a showdown with Chung – unless he elects to resign, and that would raise a storm of criticism against not only Park but also the Seoul City government.

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