> General Motors potential exit from South Korea is piling pressure on President Moon Jae-in. Last week, the company announce it would shut down one of four local factories. Now, GM and Seoul are in talk to keep the US automaker from pulling out of South Korea entirely and some 16,000 jobs hang in the balance.
There are also concerns that complete GM exit would send shock waves down the supply chain, putting a further 140,000 Korean suppliers and subcontractors at risk. As Reuter's Cynthia Kim explains there are no easy solutions for President Moon.>> On one hand, it's difficult for him to risk losing hundreds of thousands of quality jobs.
If it provides no help and GM pulls out, this is especially the case because local elections are coming up in June. On the other hand, using taxpayer's money to help GM would surely be inviting a backlash because public perceptions of autoworker's unions aren't that great here because they are relatively well-paid, often described as aristocratic and overprotected.
GM being a US company doesn't help here because there's always anti-forum sentiment here in Korea.>> Any decision will likely be a political one. As of last year, South Korea's youth unemployment rate reach nearly 10%, a record high and that's just the official data.>> One in four young Koreans here are unemployed according to some measures and there's almost generational divide for jobs where fathers and the sons are fighting for good jobs.
So the government providing a lifeline to unions with not such promising outlook will surely be inviting criticism from people who are trying to land on rare full-time positions.>> Adding to the political dilemma, last year, Moon ran on a platform of job creation. But as corruption scandals hit big Korean companies like Samsung, he also promised to reform cozy relationships between the government and corporations, making aide to GM even more difficult to swallow.
Public opinion so far is divided. 56% support public aide only if GM lays out a reasonable recovery plan and a third oppose any aide whatsoever.