Extra! Korea

May 10, 2010

Samsung sues journalist Michael Breen over satirical column

Filed under: censorship, legal issues — extrakorea @ 9:14 am

Two entities have cemented their bad reputations: South Korea as “an enemy of the Internet,” and Samsung as a cesspool of corruption.


Samsung is suing journalist Michael Breen over a satirical column that he wrote for the Korea Times. In it, he joked that Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee would receive a pardon as a Christmas gift from President Lee Myung-bak. Unfortunately for the author of “The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies,” his joke turned out to be prophecy, and on the very day that Lee received his pardon, Samsung sued Breen, the Korea Times, and its top editor “for $1 million, claiming damage to its reputation and potential earnings.” It’s hard to imagine how a column read by relatively few people could possibly cause a Goliath like Samsung so much financial damage. But that’s not the point of the lawsuit.

“The reason I’m being sued is that the beast roared,” said Breen, 57, a British native and longtime social commentator and South Korean resident who wrote a 1998 book on South Korea’s modern history.

In its suit, Samsung said the column used a “mocking tone” to add “baseless, malicious and offensive false information to criticize” the firm.

[ snip ]

But Samsung continues to pursue Breen personally for libel, both civilly and on criminal charges that he intentionally libeled the company. If convicted, he faces a hefty fine and even jail time.

[ snip ]

In a nation where reporters are often discouraged from highlighting chaebol transgressions, some say Samsung’s pursuit of Breen is intended as a warning.

The message: Even when joking, don’t mess with the chaebols.

“In South Korea, it’s considered taboo to criticize the chaebols,” said Kim Ky-won, professor of economics at Korea National Open University. “They hold very close to absolute power.”


  1. Typical Korean bulls***. Koreans can say anything they want, burn the flags of other countries, torture and kill animals to be anti whatever, tell outright LIES in their media about foreigners and American cows, but don’t you dare make a joke of any kind about them or say anything that may seem negative about them.

    If Koreans can call out for a boycott of other’s goods, why can’t others do the same to them? Oh that’s right, it’s ok for Koreans to do it, but not the other way aroound.

    Remember when Leno made some jokes about them? I remember all most all of my cooworkers who weren’t American talking about students going on about how much they hated Americans. I highly doubt they thought that way about Korean-Americans.

    Of course, it was ok for their comedians to make fun of foreign soccer players names in 2002.

    Koreans should stand up to Samsung and tell them to stop making Korea look even worse than it does. Lonestarring others isn’t enough or what?

    Comment by JohnT — May 12, 2010 @ 1:59 am

  2. […] more legal nonsense, along the lines of L’affaire Breen. JYP Entertainment had better keep in mind that in America, the truth is a defense. To paraphrase […]

    Pingback by The Wonder Girls, JYP Entertainment, and more legal action nonsense « Extra! Korea — May 12, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  3. […] @ 7:22 am You should read this timely article about General Park Chung-hee by Michael “Trod Underfoot by Samsung” Breen. Leave a […]

    Pingback by Timely column about Park Chung-hee by Michael Breen « Extra! Korea — May 17, 2010 @ 7:23 am

  4. […] lawsuit nonsense. I might have to add a category. Although some analysts said the exclusion of Korea from the […]

    Pingback by Morgan Stanley Capital International: South Korea, you’re NOT “developed” « Extra! Korea — June 23, 2010 @ 4:38 am

  5. […] sure is worth the read, largely because of the interviews with two experts on Korea, Michael “Trod Underfoot by Samsung” Breen and Tom Coyner. He [Breen] said the Dongjak district of Seoul tags itself “Lucky […]

    Pingback by Those inadvertently funny “English” slogans « Extra! Korea — July 16, 2010 @ 4:44 am

  6. 10-15 years ago, Samsung was in trouble for some sort of con game involving electronic parts. I’m old and my memory is poor. Can you help me out? Thanks!

    Comment by Charles Zollner — October 19, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  7. […] convicted tycoons … I wonder whom they could be referring […]

    Pingback by South Korea remains 39th in Corruption Index for 2nd straight year « Extra! Korea — October 26, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  8. […] When someone giving a negative feedback towards a certain product of any of Korean companies, or when someone satires a certain CEO of the likes of Samsung, they will be treated as libelous and disrespectful. To these companies, looking at two sides of an […]

    Pingback by Molybdenum Studio’s Japanese example, Balance of all Things and how it is relevant to other cultures « Roxy is Ferocious 4 Lyf — November 1, 2011 @ 2:54 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: