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THE INVESTOR
June 13, 2021

Market Now

Hana faces crisis over executives’ alleged sexism

  • PUBLISHED :April 19, 2021 - 17:57
  • UPDATED :April 19, 2021 - 17:57
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Hana Card's former CEO Jang Kyung-hoon (Hana Card)

Hana Financial Group has been receiving intense backlash over its credit card unit chief and bank branch manager’s alleged inappropriate and sexist behaviors that were reported only weeks apart.

On April 6, Hana Card’s then-CEO Jang Kyung-hoon stepped down after a leaked audio recording of him saying picking a credit card was like “choosing a wife,” went viral last month. He also drew comparisons to female companions in so-called “room salons” here, which are escort bars often associated with prostitution, in the process.

The remark was made at the credit card issuer’s intracompany leadership meeting.

“The women (at the room salon) might be beautiful and fun for a day, but would you live with her for the rest of your life?” he said in the voice recording in Korean.

“Picking a card is not picking your girlfriend, but a wife,” he added.

After Jang’s remarks were met with criticism from the public and the Korean Finance & Service Workers’ Union, Hana held an audit committee and Jang soon stepped down. His term was initially set to end March 2022.

Last week, Hana’s board handpicked Kwon Gil-joo, former Hana Financial Group vice president and CEO of Dooreseening, the financial group’s enterprise solution provider, to replace Jang as Hana Card’s new head.

Within weeks of reports on Jang’s misogynist remarks, an unnamed Hana Bank branch manager was accused of pressuring a female customer, who made a loan inquiry, to drink alcohol at a private dinner.

The male manager personally called the female customer to a restaurant, where another male companion was present, according to local news reports. He then allegedly told the woman to drink alcohol in “banmal,” an informal mode of speech that would be disrespectful in professional situations here. The customer refused, as she was made to believe the meeting was related to further explanations on the loan inquiry she made.

The female customer said in an interview that “she was intimidated” and felt like she was treated like an escort.

Hana on April 16 dismissed the accused manager from his post after reviewing the matter.

The reports come as Hana, alongside the nation’s major financial groups, have been making efforts to integrate environmental, sustainable and governance values into its management and office culture. Industry watchers, however, have criticized that the movement has been excessively focused on the “green aspect” of the ESG values.

Hana Financial Group is South Korea’s third-largest banking group by market capitalization.

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)

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