Paris Baguette Faces $46.5 Million Fine for Outsourcing Bakers

Paris Baguette is about to get hit with a huge fine if it doesn’t directly hire 5,400 bakers in 25 days:

Paris Baguette is facing its biggest crisis in its history as it has been ordered by the government to hire 5,400 patissiers directly, placing a heavier financial burden on Korea’s largest bakery franchise.

Currently, most patissiers working at Paris Baguette franchisees are dispatched by the firm’s 11 partner firms, but are trained and supervised by the bakery.

The Ministry of Labor and Employment is calling the practice illegal because patissiers are not one of 32 occupations allowed to be outsourced under the law, ordering the bakery to directly hire them.

The ministry said Paris Baguette opts to have its small business partners hire workers and send them to work for it, which costs less than directly hiring them as regular employees.

However, Paris Baguette said it shouldn’t be obliged to hire patissiers, adding they do not work for the franchise headquarters. The bakery said patissiers work at franchisees, stressing it trains and supervises them on behalf of franchised store owners.

The company said it is considering filing an administrative litigation against labor ministry’s order to directly hire bakers dispatched by its partner firms.

The ministry concluded Thursday that Paris Baguette has directly supervised bakers dispatched by its partner companies, violating the legal dispatch code of the labor law. The ministry ordered it to directly hire all of the 5,378 bakers who are working at its 3,396 franchise stores.

If Paris Baguette does not comply with the order within 25 days after receiving the official document, it would face a fine of up to 53 billion won ($46.5 million).  [Korea Times via reader link]

You can read more at the link, but I don’t see any evidence in the article of the bakers being mistreated by the franchisees that hired them.  I think there is probably more to this story than what is published in the article.

McDonald’s Korea Files Court Injunction to Stop Release of Food Inspection Results

From my perspective the McDonald’s in South Korea always seem cleaner and more professionally run than most I see back in the US:

An inspector of the Korea Consumer Agency leaves a McDonald’s restaurant in Gangnam, Seoul, carrying an ordinary paper bag without an airtight sterilization container./ Courtesy of McDonald’s Korea

McDonald’s Korea has filed a court injunction against the disclosure of the results of the Korea Consumer Agency’s sanitary inspection, the U.S.-based fast food chain said Wednesday.

The agency recently investigated 38 hamburgers marketed by six fast food franchises and five convenience store chains, following lawsuits over alleged undercooked McDonald’s patties.

Five Korean consumers have sued the company so far, claiming their children suffered hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), or the so-called “hamburger disease,” after eating McDonald’s hamburgers.

Although none of the products contained the controversial E. coli bacteria, which is known to cause HUS, the agency found that one McDonald’s hamburger contained staphylococcus aureus above the standard level. The bacterium is a common cause of food poisoning.

The agency initially planned to unveil its findings Tuesday, but scrapped the plan following McDonald’s Korea’s complaint that was applied a day earlier.

McDonald’s Korea criticized the agency for neglecting the required procedures.

“Food hygiene tests should be conducted by trained inspectors who should not hide their identity. A sample should be contained in an airtight sterilization container as well,” a spokeswoman of McDonald’s Korea said.

“However, an inspector, who visited our Gangnam store, pretended to be an ordinary customer. He also carried the sample in a paper bag, not immediately putting it into an airtight sterilization container.”  [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I can understand McDonald’s beef (pun intended) if the inspectors are not conducting inspections by agreed upon standards.

President Moon to Hold Beer Summit with ROK Business Leaders

Considering that President Moon has plans to increase taxes on the wealthy and businesses to create a welfare state, President Moon better serve some pretty good beer to get these ROK business leaders on board:

President Moon Jae-in is set to hold his first dialogue with top business leaders here this week over beer to help break the ice and possibly allow more frank discussions, an official from the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, said Tuesday.

The talks will be held Thursday and Friday, each day involving part of the top executives from the 14 largest business conglomerates, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.


Samsung Heiress Lee Seo-hyun Named One of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Billionaires

It is hard to believe that she is 44-years old, she looks great:

Lee Seo-hyun, president of Samsung C&T’s fashion group

Samsung C&T’s fashion group President Lee Seo-hyun has been selected as one of the 10 most beautiful female billionaires in the world by Trendchaser, a U.S.-based outlet specializing in entertainment trends and news.

Lee is a daughter of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee. Her older brother is Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung, and her older sister is Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin.

Trendchaser introduced 10 female billionaires aged between 19 and 50 under the headline “Youth, Fame, Beauty, and Fortune: These Ladies Have it All.” It named Virgin Group heiress Holly Branson, Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan Lauren and Hearst heiress Amanda Hearst as well.

Trendchaser wrote that some of them made their fortunes on their own, while others inherited the family business.

Although the 44-year-old executive seems to be closer to the latter, the report noted she expanded the company’s business horizons into fashion and chemicals. She was also responsible for buying Italy-based fashion house Colombo Via Della Spiga.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but she is reportedly worth $1.5 billion.  If anyone is wondering she is married with four kids. They could have easily added her sister Lee Boo-jin to the list as well.

Lee Boo-jin and her ex-husband Im Woo-jae.

ROK Heads may remember that Lee Boo-jin recently went through a billion dollar divorce fight with her ex-husband.  So if there are any ROK Heads looking to marry a billionaire she is still available.

Lee Seo-hyun also has a brother.  Her brother is Samsung Chairman in waiting Lee Jae-yong who was arrested for corruption for his alleged role in the Choi Soon-sil scandal.  There is actually a fourth Lee sibling, Lee Yoon-hyung, but she tragically committed suicide all the way back in 2005 in New York City:

She was very pretty as well, but allegedly committed suicide because she was forbidden by her father from marrying her boyfriend because his class was too low in South Korea.

Picture of the Day: Seoul Stock Market Rise Despite Tensions

Seoul stocks hit 6-year high

An electronic board in a Korea Exchange Bank dealing room shows the country’s benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) on April 25, 2017. The KOSPI soared 23.11 points, or 1.06 percent, on foreign buying, to close at 2,196.85, marking the highest since April 22, 2011, when the comparable figure was 2,197.82 points. (Yonhap)

US Trade Deficit with South Korea More Than Doubled After Free Trade Agreement

It looks like the Trump administration will at some point demand a renegotiation of the US-ROK FTA:

The U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday the free trade agreement with South Korea resulted in a “dramatic increase in our trade deficit,” stressing it’s time for a major review of how the U.S. approaches trade deals.

“The largest trade deal implemented during the Obama administration — our free trade agreement with South Korea — has coincided with a dramatic increase in our trade deficit with that country,” USTR said in President Donald Trump’s 2017 Trade Policy Agenda.

Compared with before the deal went into effect in 2012, the total value of U.S. goods exported to South Korea fell by $1.2 billion, while U.S. imports of goods from South Korea grew by more than $13 billion, USTR said.

“As a result, our trade deficit in goods with South Korea more than doubled,” it said. “Needless to say, this is not the outcome the American people expected from that agreement. Plainly, the time has come for a major review of how we approach trade agreements.”  [Korea Times]

I think what would be interesting to see is a report on any artificial barriers making it difficult for US companies to compete in South Korea which may contribute to the trade deficit.