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.

Why?

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.”

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8 Comments »

  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

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  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

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