Harim Group Chairman Kim Hong-kuk speaks during an event of celebrating the establishment of its new food complex in South Korea. Photo courtesy of Harim Group

Harim chief expected to take part in the Jan. 20 event

The general expectations have been that tycoons from Samsung or Hyundai will be invited to the inauguration ceremony of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20.

But they have yet to receive one. Instead, the head of a relatively small-sized Korean conglomerate, dubbed Harim Group, was called to the much-hailed event.

Earlier this week, Harim Group said its Chairman Kim Hong-kuk and two others were invited to the ceremony. Harim works in the food and agriculture businesses.

The Seoul-based outfit seems to get the invitation thanks to its connection to Delaware, the hometown of the President-elect.

Delaware State Senator Chris Koons of the Democratic Party appears to work behind the scene so that Kim was invited.

In the early 2010s, Harim Group acquired Allen Family Foods, now Allen Harim Foods, in Delaware. Since then, it has maintained a good relationship with politicians of the state.

A Harim spokesman said that the group will consider whether its head will join the event after checking the situation of the virus outbreak in the United States and Korea.

For the inauguration ceremony of President Donald Trump in 2017, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn were invited.

Vice Chairman Lee could not cross the Pacific because police investigations were underway, while Chairman Lee also did not take part due to his illness.

In 2009, a few Korean businessmen, including Hyosung Group Chairman S.R. Cho, took part in the inauguration ceremony of former President Barack Obama.

Back then, Chairman Cho was heading the Federation of Korea Industries, the country’s powerful business lobby.