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Challenging the Chaebol

South Korea's chaebol are a defining issue in this year’s presidential campaign, with the three leading candidates united in vowing reform. The December election could thus mark a turning point for the government’s deep-rooted collusion with the chaebol – and South Korea’s corporate dynasties are getting nervous.

SEOUL – When asked to identify Samsung’s fiercest enemy, most people would name Apple, given ongoing patent lawsuits in various countries. But Samsung, the largest of South Korea’s chaebol (vast, politically connected, family-run conglomerates), has bigger problems at home. In the run-up to the December presidential election, the chaebol have become a target of growing popular anger.