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[Date : 2018-06-18 03:22:16 ]   
Future Korea - Special Interview with Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang

Future Korea Media, which publishes its weekly “Future Korea” Magazine, had an interview with Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang, Founder and Executive President, Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) and heard her views about advancement and outlook of anti-corruption in South Korea and the meaningful outcomes of Fair Player Club, which GCEF has been played an organizer role from 2015 to 2018

Vol. 571 on April 11, 2018

Interview: Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang, Founder and Executive President, Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF)

"Corruption Index of South Korea is actually not bad. It is a clean country." The goal of her forum is to nurture hybrid talents creating shared values to mix economic and social values.


'Fair Play' project, "Corruption Index of South Korea is not high."

Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) is a nonprofit organization aiming to contribute for global competitiveness empowerment of South Korean enterprises, and furthermore, South Korea's industrial development and influence in the global community. GCEF has been registered under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), with its former name as the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, of the South Korean government from February 17, 2011.

GCEF endeavors to promote the new world of sustainable peace and prosperity that corporations and capitalism can uphold justice, rights and freedom and support business community to enhance corporate social responsibility (CSR), creating shared values (CSV), sustainability, and integrity, both in domestic and global arena.

Especially, GCEF covers most of areas that economic and social values are crossed and endeavors for advancing corporate philanthropy, internationalizing corporate social innovation, and embedding corporate responsibility into business.

The project of Fair Player Club that Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang of Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) has played an important role is also the public and private sector collaboration forum with similar objectives.

Fair Player Club pursues cooperation between business and government, hosted by UN Global Compact Network (UNGC) and organized by Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF). During past three years, it has helped to empower capacity of companies which belong to various countries and industry, by introducing laws and policies about anti-corruption.

Future Korea met Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang, Founder and Executive President Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) at her office in Mapo-daero of Seoul on March 20, 2018 and heard her views about the anti-corruption status of South Korean companies in the world, including how much Fair Player Club has improved that status.

Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang, Founder and Executive President, Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) / Photo: Baek, Yo-seb, Journalist of Future Korea

- Please introduce Fair Player Club.

Fair Player Club is a forum to promote anti-corruption cooperation between public and private sectors. It is a project creating a platform for collaboration between business and government in the area of compliance and anti-corruption. Siemens AG and World Bank Vice President Integrity Office called for proposals to promote anti-corruption to nonprofit organizations. Fair Player Club is one of the projects, chosen from South Korea.

GCEF, as a brain organization, designed as a project architect Fair Player Club, wrote its proposal, and suggested to work with UN Global Compact Network Korea (GCNK), a bigger organization, as a consortium. GCEF and GCNK passed the final screening and were selected, as the only South Korean project.

In order to create fairer and more transparent business environment, we worked together during three years to disseminate anti-corruption awareness by industry, by region, and by country and provide field based compliance and business ethics trainings as well as researches on anti-corruption.

Fair Player Club obtained involvement from various stakeholders from government, business, civil society, and academia and provided a platform for dialogs about compliance and business ethics. We are proud of our contribution which has raised an anti-corruption awareness level of South Korean society and strengthened the basis of improvement of the business environment.

During three years, we hosted 21 times of anti-corruption and compliance seminars. About 1,100 people of compliance managers and CSR professionals attended in those seminars.

With UN Global Compact Network Korea as a host, GCEF organized a yearly international conference including anti-corruption pledge ceremony. Namely, during three years, massive anti-corruption campaigns have been implemented with cooperation with private and public sectors.

Fair Player Club implemented its yearly activities during three years. In the 1st year in 2015, it supported compliance capacity for various industries such as machinery, medical devices, automobile, electronics, railway, and overseas construction by working with those industry associations and Korean In-House Counsel Association.

In the 2nd year in 2016, it focused region, working with Seoul and other six metropolitan cities as well as local chambers of commerce, by disseminating importance of anti-corruption, business integrity, and compliance to local enterprises.

In the next year, it focused to improve understanding of South Korean companies regarding global standards. For Europe and US, it collaborated with their embassies. For Asia, it cooperated with foreign chambers of commerce and related centers (affiliated with government). It promoted Collective Action and strengthened corporate competitiveness through compliance and business ethics in overseas.

Fair Player Club, the only anti-corruption campaign in South Korea

- What kinds of companies and organizations have been participating in? 

It started in April, 2015 and finished in March, 2018 after its 3 year implementation. Participating companies include, from public enterprises, subsidiary companies of KEPCO, and from private enterprises, KT and its subsidiary companies, and also from foreign invested enterprises.

The core spirit of Fair Player Club is “Collective Action”, the concept that was developed about 10 years ago by the World Bank Institute, not developed in South Korea.

For example, companies are trapped by the prisoners’ dilemma, worrying about uncertainty that their competitors might win the better position in public procurement tenders by providing bribes, while they deny demanding requests.

Fair Player Club is the effort to make a level playing field beyond this prisoners’ dilemma, one of famous economic concepts. For example, making all bidding companies in a certain highway transport project participate in, by preventing them from worrying about the prisoners’ dilemma.

- It seems a good objective but without mandatory obligation, people could raise doubts and be critical about absence of effectiveness.

Fair Player Club promotes just a declaration without mandatory feature. However, there are many projects promoting Collective Action with sophistication features, targeting for one project, one region, and one tender around the world for easier control.

One of sophistication features is a punishment in the case of corruption. If a pledged company commits corrupt practices, a punishment excluding that company for 2~3 years could be an example. The project with this kind of feature would be ideal but not many in the world.

- It seems that beneficial features are also important to companies, which would increase participation of companies and turn into a project with binding feature. What kind of benefits of Fair Player Club, if companies join?

When I designed the Fair Player Club project, the anti-corruption rank of South Korea, announced by Transparency International (TI), was the 51st.

Actually, the projects with incentives for abiding by anti-corruption pledges as well as penalties in the case of breach are also difficult to find in developed countries.

For example, there are some projects in water management or dam construction, cared by ministries of construction, within boundaries of the range of those projects but it is regarded as a still ideal concept.

The 2nd anti-corruption project that I designed is an advanced Collective Action project concept, compared with the 1st anti-corruption project that I also designed, university student training by compliance managers of companies with their own cases. At that time, I thought it was still too early and unrealistic to design the project with mandatory features.

Fair Player Club was designed with the level of promoting importance of Collective Action. That’s why participation is free and non-binding with little bit of PR effects to participants.

However, I think, from now on, the more sophisticated and binding project with substantial incentives and penalties should appear in South Korea.

Mere efforts to make that kind of project would not be enough. There should be experimental leaders, willingness of the government to lead, and implementers such as public enterprises or governmental organizations which executive that kind of public policy.

For example, if that sophisticated project could happen in a certain railway contracture bidding, all participating bidders should agree. Civil society’s monitoring role is also important, whether anti-corruption pledges are kept well. Namely, trilateral composition of business, government, and civil society is essential.


Ms. Angele Joo-Hyun Kang at the Fair Player Club Compliance and Business Ethics Seminar with the U.S. Embassy Seoul in October, 2017.

There is a famous story about Siemens AG, one of the co-host of its global anti-corruption initiative, which Fair Player Club belongs to as one of its beneficiaries. In 2006, it was found out that Siemens made slush funds about 460 million Euros and distributed as bribes to business contacts, governmental organizations, and politicians of the development countries which were related with various infrastructure projects.

In 2008, Siemens had a severe consequence, paying fines of the amount of about 1 billion Euros. At that time, a spokesperson of German Federal Criminal Investigation Office told that “Supplying bribery was a part of a business model of Siemens so far” .

Siemens’ reputation went down and Siemens became a representative case of ‘ethics’ of most of all business administration textbooks.

Siemens had to invite the first foreigner CEO, coming from outside of Siemens, the first time ever, in its 170 years of history. Throughout severe internal reforms, Siemens re-emerged as one of best practice companies in compliance and business ethics in the world.

In order to restore its fallen corporate image, Siemens has collaborated with World Bank from 2009 and supported nonprofit organizations promoting clean business and anti-corruption for 15 years with USD 100 million fund.

Pursuing the way of thesis-antithesis-synthesis to reflect both sides of business and civil society

- How is South Korea’s anti-corruption status, compared with global status.

Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, who visited South Korea as a keynote speaker of an international event made an interesting remark. While the actual data of bribery cases of South Korea are low, like 3 %, with a similar level of the ones of Japan or Australia, perception of South Korean public is much higher, like 67%.

His analysis about the reason was South Korean public’s bad memory about last year’s national turmoil (Impeachment of a former President due to a bribery case), which raised their awareness, sensitiveness, and expectation, by merely thinking that “Ah, South Korea’s corruption index would be high".

However, he said that South Korea is actually not a country with high corruption index. Of course, this kind of analysis would be different than other analysis of South Korean experts.

Personally, I see a part of reasons is that many accumulated side effects from the compressed growth of South Korea have influenced South Korean public. Fast speed of economic development may have created the gap between their expectation and awareness. People have a tendency to denounce South Korea as ‘Hell - Chosun’. However, I think we don’t have to humble ourselves too much.

- When you continue anti-corruption campaigns, you might be able to find commonality of corruption.

There are two aspects.

One is that two hands are needed for clapping. Both demand side and supply sides are needed for bribery. If we see bribery cases, regardless of industry, we can find people’s idle belief that they would be exceptions, common in both individual and corporate conducts

The other is tolerance from control perspective. For example, in a certain company, if a person with high competence commits corruption, the person should be kicked out, but that is not the case always. If a company abides by zero-tolerance, then, the company could live in mid and long term. If not, the company might die gradually, like a frog in a boiling pot.

What made you to do anti-corruption activities.

Among my 27 years of professional experiences, the 1st half was in private sector. Namely, I spent the half of my career in companies and the other half in nonprofit sector.

I regard myself as a professional who understand CSV(Creating Shared Value) and CSR(Corporate Social Responsibility) well and harmonize economic and social values. From 1992, I worked in advertising, headhunting, training, PR, marketing, and sales fields in companies.

However, a certain occasion influenced me to move from private sector to nonprofit sector. Frankly, when I worked within companies, there were many times that I had doubts about directions of capitalism.

Then, I had a car accident when I had prepared to go to MBA, which awoken me a lot. I felt I needed to express my gratitude in my life, after the accident which almost ended my life.

After then, step by step, I moved to nonprofit sector. It’s been almost 15 years since I left the business world in 2002 to become a social entrepreneur.

However, ironically, I feel that I did not leave the business world completely. Even though I do not work within companies, I work outside of companies to change corporate behaviors.

That’s why I don’t talk like a civil society leader, emphasizing text book principles, since I know that adopting them is difficult in reality, as a person who experienced both private and nonprofit sectors.

Though I work with compliance departments, I always think of perspectives of business and sales departments that compliance people have to persuade. That’s why my work is more difficult. To companies, I look like a civil society leader. To civil society, I look like a corporate person. Both sides think of me as a person like a bat. Some think of me a very flexible person.

It is been already 10 years to receive this kind of treatment but I am fine, because I believe I could make something new, like the way of thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

As President of Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF), what is your goal including your personal goal.

I am 50 years old this year. I hope to make Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) as an influential organization, which could lead public and business policies around the world, like the Davos Forum, when I become 80.

Personally, I hope to endeavor to nurture hybrid talents who could understand both business and society and create new values like the way of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. The key is to make a paradigm shift to change the perception that social problems are obstacles into the belief that competence addressing social problems is competitiveness.

It is my dream and goal to nurture hybrid talents who could understand both economic and social values and create shared values.

Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang holds a bachelor’s degree of English Language and Literature from Yonsei University and a mid career master’s degree of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. She is Founder and Executive President of Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF) and was an advisor to the Presidential Council of Nation Branding of South Korea, Asia Program Fellow of Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (currently under Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation) of Harvard Kennedy School, and a research associate of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.

Source: Future Korea Media (


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Organization : GCEF (Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum)  
Founder and President : Angela Joo-Hyun Kang   
Location : Business Valley, 3F., A-Dong, Hyosung Harrington Square, 92, Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu, Seoul, 04168, Republic of Korea
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