SEJONG, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- Conglomerates with assets worth over 10 trillion won (US$8.9 billion) accounted for 61 percent of combined operating profit of all South Korean businesses last year, government data showed Thursday.
The data underscored that Asia's fourth-largest economy is still dominated by conglomerates, known here as chaebol.
In 2017, the country had 2,191 big companies control such large assets. They accounted for a mere 0.3 percent of the country's 666,163 companies, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
Still, conglomerates, including Samsung Electronics Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., hired 20.4 percent of all employees and held 71.2 percent of all corporate assets.
The large firms also generated 2,285 trillion won in sales, accounting for 48 percent of all corporate sales last year, the data showed.
In stark comparison, the number of smaller companies came to 660,003, or 99.1 percent of all South Korean firms, but their combined sales accounted for 37.9 percent of all corporate sales and their combined operating profit made up 25.1 percent of the total.
South Korea has been trying to level the playing field for small and medium-sized companies in a country where family-controlled conglomerates have dominated the economy for decades.