a South Korean conglomerate, usually owned by a single family, based on authoritarian management and centralized decision-making.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CHAEBOL?
Chaebol “a South Korean conglomerate” is a direct borrowing from Korean and is composed of chae “wealth, property” and pŏl “clique, faction.” However, while chaebol is a Korean term, its origins lie across the Sea of Japan; chaebol reflects the Korean pronunciation of the kanji characters that are used in Japanese to spell the word zaibatsu “a large industrial or financial conglomerate of Japan,” making chaebol the Korean loan translation of zaibatsu. Both chaebol and zaibatsu originated as borrowings from Middle Chinese dzoi “wealth” and bjot “powerful family” (compare Mandarin Chinese cái and fá). Chinese is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family, and though neither Japanese nor Korean belongs to this family, earlier versions of the Chinese language were once heavily influential on the non-Sinitic languages of East Asia. Chaebol was first recorded in English in the 1970s.
HOW IS CHAEBOL USED?
South Korea’s family-run conglomerates are facing calls for a shakeup in their governance .… The conglomerates known as chaebol have come under the reform buzz saw before, only to emerge bigger and stronger than ever. The country’s four biggest chaebol groups account for around half the stock market’s value, according to the Korea Stock Exchange.HYUNJOO JIN, SE YOUNG LEE, AND NICHOLA SAMINATHER, “CHAEBOL REFORM AT FOREFRONT OF SOUTH KOREA PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN—AGAIN,” REUTERS, MARCH 27, 2017
Officials worry that as firms such as Naver, which began life as a search engine, and Kakao have expanded into anything from ride-hailing to personal finance, they have picked up the bad habits of the chaebol. These sprawling conglomerates were instrumental in making South Korea rich and continue to dominate its economy. But they are notorious for murky governance structures, oligopolistic business practices and close ties with the political elite.“SOUTH KOREA’S GOVERNMENT SEES TECH FIRMS AS THE NEW CHAEBOL,” ECONOMIST, SEPTEMBER 18, 2021
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