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Laying the Blame at Somebody Else's Feet

In the picture accompanying "Kim's fall from grace" (Finance, Feb. 19) depicting Daewoo Group founder Kim Woo Choong, it is interesting to note that the other "wanted suspects" shown are [a figure representing] America and Kim Dae Jung, the President of the Republic of Korea. This is symptomatic of the attitude of Koreans toward the country's economic woes: The 1997-98 crisis is still dubbed the "International Monetary Fund crisis," in a severe case of confusion between the disease and the medicine.

Didier Barbas

Seoul Now that the worst-case scenario is a reality in California, I can easily see a company such as Enron being like the owner of a hardware store in a community hit by an earthquake who is selling shovels for 100 times the usual price ("Power play," The Corporation, Feb. 12).

The company makes money from the crisis today. Then its owners will change the store's name, look, and maybe location, to distance itself from the dastardliness now associated with the company's name. It's a tried-and-true way of doing business, and one that even gets respect in large numbers, if that can be believed.

S. Mitchell Halloran

Ankara, Turkey The main point to be added to Peruvian presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo's to-do list, and each candidate's list, is to rebuild people's trust ("This time around, Toledo loves the free market," Latin America, Feb. 12). After the Fujimori-Montesino regime's corruption scandal, a great number of politicians from each party are suspect.

Peru's next President must declare war on corruption and make an effort to punish the people involved if Peru is to reorient its economic policy to create new jobs, reduce poverty, attract investment, and promote exports and strategic industries. Otherwise, we, the Peruvians, are missing the opportunity to build a new and better society.

Oscar Manuel Mendoza Vargas

Lima "So long, corporate reform" (Asian Business, Jan. 22) characterizes the Ssangyong Cement Industrial Co. as "a good example of a company not worth saving." Ssangyong's resort operations are regarded as a success. As for automobile manufacturing, any corporation needs continually to draw and implement new projects with a view toward making its operations stronger and healthier. Some of these projects will succeed and others will fail.

While the current glut in the cement market is a serious concern for all Korean manufacturers, cement-making remains a key national industry. Ssangyong is not waiting to be "saved." It has sold core units to liquidate its debts, and it recently formed a joint venture with Japan's Taiheiyo Cement Corp., which purchased Ssangyong stock at par value (two-thirds more than its trading price). It is highly doubtful that Taiheiyo would make such a substantial investment to join forces with a company that is not worth saving.

Nam-do Cho


Ssangyong Cement Industrial Co.

Seoul Microsoft Corp.'s software patents allow it to maintain a monopoly through legal fees rather than by producing a superior product ("The wind shifts for Microsoft," Legal Affairs, Feb. 12). The solution is to eliminate its patents on products that dominate a market and force Microsoft to compete on quality.

Stephen Colley

Bellmont, Calif. The supply of water is publicly owned and operated almost everywhere in the U.S. And would we have it any other way? Would $10 per gallon of water, in a drought, be publicly acceptable because it encourages desalination plants? I don't think so.

Eugene Mannacio

Novato, Calif.

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