Darker Side of Naver and Kakao’s Prosperity Unveiled | Be Korea-savvy

Darker Side of Naver and Kakao’s Prosperity Unveiled

This undated photo shows Naver Corp.'s  headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

This undated photo shows Naver Corp.’s headquarters in Seongnam, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, June 1 (Korea Bizwire)Naver Corp. and Kakao Corp., the two major South Korean tech companies, have benefitted from the ‘pandemic boost’ and showed exponential growth over the past 12 months.

Behind the scenes, however, these companies are struggling with criticism over unfair treatment of employees.

Since early this year, the two companies have been embroiled in internal disputes over bonuses.

Based on last year’s unprecedented performance, some management staff received significant bonuses, while other employees received far less, inciting frustration among rank-and-file employees.

The two companies took belated measures to soothe frustrations by offering stock options, but rooted distrust and frustration is expected to continue.

Kakao Corp.'s Jeju headquarters (image: Kakao)

Kakao Corp.’s Jeju headquarters (image: Kakao)

Employees complain that the once praised work-life balance policies and friendly working environment are also breaking apart.

In the IT industry, the most successful firm tends to dominate the entire market. With the two companies riding the momentum to expand their reach into new fields, employees are being forced into competition over performance.

Many believe that the recent suicide of a Naver employee was the result of endless pressure to ‘outspeed rivals’ or ‘always stay on top.’

What’s more, Naver founder Lee Hae-jin and Kakao founder Kim Beom-soo’s absolute dominance over the company and staffing practices that tend to circle around their acquaintances is another source of further frustration.

Lina Jang (linajang@koreabizwire.com)

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