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Thursday, October 29, 2020

52. The Republic of Samsung,

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Samsung’s founder, his son, and his grandson grew to turn into a vegetable and dried fish store into a world superpower and an emblem of South Korean success. But their strive in opposition to to raise the firm within the family has additionally landed it on the guts of some of South Korea’s biggest corruption investigations. Now, Samsung and South Korea deserve to identify what comes next: Can the firm proceed without its founding family on the helm? And what would that imply for the country Samsung helped derive?

Produced by Sarah Wyman, with Charlie Herman and Julia Press.

Geoffrey Cain is the author of Samsung Rising: The Interior Memoir of the South Korean Big That Build of abode Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech.


NOTE: This transcript could well well fair possess errors.

CHARLIE HERMAN: Our memoir begins with a horse. Smartly, in actual fact, three horses. Their names had been Rausing, Salcido, and Vitana, and they lived at an equestrian middle in a diminutive town in Germany. These had been particular horses, the form outdated faculty to coach for elite, dressage competitions. And the woman who rode them became a young South Korean who had hopes of competing within the 2020 Olympics. That’s she did, till 2016.

CNN: Park Geun-Hye’s approval ranking has plummeted to an all-time low. The South Korean President embroiled in a scandal that has thousands of protesters calling for her resignation.

CH: It grew to turn into out these horses had been piece of an intensive bribery and corruption scandal that in a roundabout way ended in the impeachment and conviction of South Korea’s president.

So, who ponied up for Rausing, Salcido and Vitana?

EURONEWS: The inheritor apparent of tech large Samsung has turn into a criminal suspect in a widening corruption probe engulfing South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

CH: Why would the inheritor apparent of Samsung expend millions of dollars on some horses? Smartly, it’s simplest the most fresh twist to a memoir about one family that’s tried for many years to preserve it as much as the reins … of 1 in all the field’s best. companies.

From Commercial Insider, that is Dropped at you by… Brands you know, reviews you don’t. I’m Charlie Herman.

Samsung doesn’t factual invent flatscreens and smartphones, it’s a firm that has outlined South Korea for many years.

Behind the emblem are three generations of males – a grandfather, father, and son – who grew to turn into a vegetable and dried fish store into a world empire.

But what happens when the family industry turns into too fat? And what does it imply for South Koreans when the leaders of that firm steal ending up in court, charged with corruption?

Preserve with us.


CH: Geoffrey Cain is a foreign correspondent, and the author of a novel e-book, Samsung Rising. When he moved to South Korea in 2009, he quick realized that Samsung became a fat deal.

GEOFFREY CAIN: It makes every part. You know, at the same time as you happen to had been to face on a avenue nook and scrutinize around, magnificent mighty everyone would possess either a Samsung ingredient in their pocket or at their dwelling or in their automobile.

CH: And now not factual in South Korea. The firm makes up 20% of that country’s exports. It is far within the head 20 list of the biggest public companies within the field. It has an even bigger chunk of the world smartphone market than Apple.

GC: And for this reason Koreans name their country the Republic of Samsung. Love, they simply can’t be eliminated from the success of South Korea.

CH: For the previous 82 years, one family has overseen all of that success.

GC: The Lee family, they are handled cherish gods at Samsung.

And in South Korea, they’re reasonably cherish that family in HBO’s “Succession,” where the kids strive to preserve it as much as the family industry. They’re extremely prosperous, primary and shrouded in mystique, cherish a South Korean version of the British Royal Household. Some of them reside about an hour south of the capital Seoul, at a palatial property where peacocks crawl the grounds. When the chairman reveals up at Samsung offices, his representatives had been identified to recount workers on easy easy suggestions to behave.

GC: It is best to not launch your non-public dwelling windows and scrutinize down on the chairman. No person looks down. You’re purported to scrutinize to him or scrutinize up at him.

CH: The very best doubtless-ranking members of the family are infrequently seen in public. And tabloid journalists starvation for news about the Lees.

GI-WOOK SHIN: When I believe cherish a Samsung family, it’s a diminutive comparable to North Korean Kim family and even royal family.

Gi-Wook Shin is a professor of sociology and the director of the Korean Stories program at Stanford University. He grew up in South Korea, and he says Samsung’s role there’s totally different from the relationship most People deserve to, verbalize, Apple or Google.

GWS: I mediate it is doubtless you’ll per chance well well presumably argue that Samsung has turn into extra than factual a industry or firm in Korea. Samsung could well well fair convey, you know, vitality. And folks are joking that a president can closing factual for five years, but Samsung can closing for… forever, good? (laughs)

CH: The Lee family has handed steal watch over of the firm from one technology to the subsequent … father to son for the previous 80 years. And the one who put of abode all of it in movement became Lee Byung-Chul. Furthermore identified as B.C. Lee

BC Lee became born in 1910, the identical twelve months Japan invaded Korea and grew to turn into it into a Japanese colony. Koreans had been humiliated and infected, and Japan’s insurance policies made issues worse.

GWS: They had been forcing Koreans to be in contact simplest Japanese in colleges. They had been encouraging and even pushing Koreans to adopt Japanese names. And against the stop of colonial rule, Koreans had to love Japanese emperor.

CH: While the Japanese chipped away at Korea’s custom, Koreans began promoting what Professor Shin calls “ethnic nationalism”- a kind of nationalism rooted in racial purity, family heritage and natural DNA. Koreans felt they had been totally different from the Japanese-and superior-attributable to their heritage. B.C. Lee would possess grown up on this ambiance, and that way of pondering is mirrored within the firm he primarily based.

GWS: Korea became formed by this sturdy sense of patriarchy. And sense of family, in actual fact. And likewise it is doubtless you’ll per chance well well presumably’t in actual fact take into anecdote Samsung without enthusiastic by Lee family, good?

CH: Samsung obtained its originate in 1938, when B.C. Lee opened a vegetable and dried fish store throughout the speed-as much as World Battle II. He noticed it as of mission to invent some money … but additionally a technique to form Korea some credibility. He called his novel store…Samsung Sanghoe.

GC: It technique three stars. Stable, fat, eternal. That’s the symbol of that identify, three stars.

CH: Over the direction of the battle, B.C. Lee gathered a diminutive fortune. With that money, he went on to originate totally different companies.

GC: He’s growing and growing and growing. After which in a roundabout way the battle ends attributable to the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which leads the US to attain encourage in and to put of abode up a militia govt in Korea to put apart into stamp the give up of the Japanese emperor.

CH: For the dear time in B.C. Lee’s life, Korea became now now not below Japanese rule. With his community of companies, and contacts with the U.S. militia and novel Korean politicians, B.C. Lee became effectively-positioned to develop his firm. He sold a local university and a newspaper. He relocated to Seoul, the Korean capital. And alongside the formula, he began to mediate critically about what the future of Korea would scrutinize cherish.

GC: The leaders of Samsung, they didn’t put of abode out to invent a profit. They weren’t starting off to invent money. They had been environment out to derive a nation from nothing.

CH: To discontinue this, B.C. Lee made what you would steal in solutions an ironic decision: he borrowed the industry model for Samsung from the Japanese. Sooner than the battle, B.C. Lee had quick studied industry in Japan. And when he became there, he noticed how an extraordinarily primary crew of companies, identified because the zaibatsu, had kickstarted industrialization and pushed Japan onto the field stage.

GC: Mitsubishi is a zaibatsu. Mitsui, one other valuable Japanese firm. So these had been companies that factual had the form of hand in constructing the Japanese nation into one thing that became primary and feared and a nation that could well well increase and that could well well even pick on The United States, bombing Pearl Harbor. A nation that could well well in actual fact be a pressure within the field.

CH: The zaibatsu had been owned and operated by a circle of elite Japanese families who handed the companies down technology to technology cherish a form of family inheritance.

GC: B.C. Lee revered them. He revered their longevity, their measurement. He idea that that became what a a success industry must quiet scrutinize cherish. And he even mentioned to his workers one time that he wished Samsung to closing 300 years, which is additionally what the Japanese zaibatsu leaders would verbalize to their workers. ‘We desire Mitsubishi to be a 300 twelve months endeavor. We desire a 300 twelve months idea. ‘And that factual affords you a strategy of the scale and the timeline that these industry leaders are taking a examine.

CH: So he’s pondering very longterm.

GC: Yeah, very, very longterm.

CH: So as B.C. Lee invested in the end of Samsung, he adopted the zaibatsu model … especially its emphasis on “family.” That integrated plans at hand the firm over to one in all his sons, as effectively as how he went about constructing the custom at Samsung. For example, he became well-known for taking the hiring direction of extremely critically.

GC: In his tenure, he sat in on 100,000 interviews.

CH: Oh, my God. How is that that it is doubtless you’ll per chance well well presumably think?

GC: He would speed around to totally different interviews and he would dash take a seat in for about a minutes, scrutinize on the person inquisitively as if he’s reading you. He became trying to identify if this individual became telling the truth. If this recruit will be relied on and I could well well entrust them with valuable projects in the end. In, 20 years down the avenue, will they be a prime of my firm?

CH: B.C. Lee became procuring for the attributes of the form of individual who later grew to turn into identified because the Samsung Man. He became the gold long-established for Korean manhood: effectively-spoken, magnificent, executed, refined. The embodiment of every part Korea had to give.

But then, in 1950, the North Korean military marched into Seoul…

NEWS: Will there be peace? Or battle?

CH: …and every part changed – now not factual for Korea as a nation, but for what Samsung would turn into.

NEWS: In the absence of Soviet obstruction, the safety council voted overwhelmingly in resolve on of armed intervention to offer protection to the Korean republic.

CH: B.C. Lee knew he became in anxiousness. He had worked with the People and had embraced Japanese industry beliefs. When the North Koreans arrived, they began executing capitalists cherish him. So when they showed up on his doorstep annoying to peep his documents and then raiding Samsung’s warehouses, B.C. Lee knew it became time to win out of there.

GC: He outdated faculty in spite of cash remained and sold a truck and loaded up his executives and their families and whoever he could well well win on, and so they drove south to Busan. In the occasion that they had stayed in Seoul, they potentially would possess all died. I don’t mediate that Samsung would possess existed nowadays.

NEWS: At long closing, the misery and the bloodshed of the battle in Korea has been halted. Permit us to hope certainly that it has ended.

CH: When the battle became over, they climbed encourage into their trucks and returned to Seoul … and for the 2d time…

GC: They put of abode out on a mission to rebuild this barren nation that had been destroyed.

GWS: Korean battle became very unfavorable.

CH: Again, Gi-Wook Shin, professor of Korean Stories at Stanford. He says the Korean Battle became especially devastating because extra than half of of the almost five million casualties had been civilians.

GWS: So as that’s about 10% of the Korean population on the time. And it destroyed numerous facilities. Alongside side in North Korea. So, you know, each and every Koreas in actual fact had to rebuild.

CH: After the battle, South Korea had nearly no pure sources to invent the premise of a novel economy. Its industry possibilities had been now not searching loyal.

CH: When the battle became over, what became Samsung?

GC: Samsung became a diminutive-time procuring and selling firm that had lost magnificent mighty all of its stock and in actual fact had no likelihood for survival. And B.C. Lee talks about this, that the most straightforward technique to win out of this misfortune became for him to team up with the dear president of Korea, who determined that Korea became, yes, very miserable, had miserable possibilities, but idea that per chance there became of mission for rebuilding it.

CH: Samsung’s early alliance with the government put of abode the tone for a relationship that could well well closing for years: What’s loyal for Samsung is loyal for South Korea.

GC: And this became in actual fact the interval when the firm noticed explosive convey. Samsung became turning into the logo of the nation.

CH: The firm grew to turn into serious about nearly every facet of life in South Korea. The economy itself grew to turn into increasingly extra centered around Samsung. And because the firm’s community of companies grew, some possess alleged that the Lee family made typical money payments to politicians to decrease investigations.

But by the stop of 1960, a militia coup overthrew the South Korean govt….

NEWS: Seoul, capital of Southern Korea. Riots on the scale of revolution…

CH: …and there became a novel president accountable.

GC: Right here’s a prime who studied the Japanese model and studied how these zaibatsu groups had gotten so fat and how they had each and every been very defective and so they directed the nation and so they put apart politicians in office. But additionally, they had done a lot to industrialize Japan and to flip it into the vitality it became. He wished to discontinue one thing an analogous with Korea. But he seemed at folks cherish B.C. Lee at Samsung and he noticed a bunch of white-collar criminals.

CH: While the novel President understood that Samsung, the firm, became predominant to the success of South Korea, he additionally wished to curb the affect of the Lee family. So in a dash that could well well effectively be repeated over and over by future govt officers, he accused B.C. Lee and one in all his sons of corruption, He didn’t in actual fact deserve to put apart B.C. Lee in jail – he wouldn’t be of mighty disclose to him there – but he did deserve to masks him who became boss. So, the courts hit Samsung with a aesthetic of nearly 4 and a half of million dollars, and B.C. Lee became pressured to step down from running the firm he created.

GC: It became a fat national scandal on the time. But then after some time, as Samsung became slowly rehabilitated, B.C. Lee returned to his throne in 1968, about three years later, came encourage to Samsung, grew to turn into the chairman of Samsung all over again.

CH: So, what had been the lessons that B.C. Lee and Samsung took faraway from the 1960s with its brush with these investigations… What became the takeaway for them?

GC: The takeaway became we can pick on this behavior. We will cook dinner up these schemes and pick a seek for at to scrutinize what we can win away with, but now we deserve to now not push too far.

CH: And but on the identical time, when they discontinue speed afoul of the solutions that everyone else is purported to coach, they’re now not necessarily held accountable, it appears.

GC: Yeah. Yeah. Because they’re too fat to fail. They’re factual too predominant.

CH: After the rupture, Samsung grows even bigger. And some South Koreans originate to interrogate: is that this firm now not simplest too fat to fail, but too fat for a single family?


CH: We’re encourage.

B.C. Lee and Samsung helped rebuild South Korea now not once, but twice. But by the 1980s, the country became quiet trailing far within the encourage of its neighbor – and every so continuously industry rival Japan – Professor Gi-Wook Shin remembers what the firm’s popularity became cherish when he came to the US in 1983.

GWS: At the time, Samsung became making very diminutive shadowy and white TV, and also it is doubtless you’ll per chance well well presumably resolve very low-mark Samsung TV in Costco, for example. So on the time without a doubt, Samsung can not match Sony in TV let’s verbalize, but now Samsung is a lot better than Sony and Koreans are very happy with that, that now a Korean firm is a success over a Japanese one.

CH: The reason Samsung now beats Japanese companies cherish Sony is thanks to its 2d chief, Lee Kun-hee, B.C. Lee’s son. But earlier than he took over the firm, most Koreans – and even Samsung executives – they didn’t gaze him as an especially promising chief. His dad became a national hero. Lee Kun-hee? He gave the impression form of cherish a rotten rich kid.

GC: Lee Kun-hee, he’s seen as a playboy. He likes quick vehicles. He drives his Porsche. He has a internal most racetrack at Samsung, and he loves going at 200 miles per hour, factual utilizing around. He became in numerous high-profile automobile crashes. He became rumored to possess 95 children out of his marriage. He became rumored to possess this lover in Los Angeles who became rumored to be some form of valuable individual.

CH: Perfect numerous gossip about him.

GC: Yeah. Right here’s all gossip, and these had been all rumors that I mediate had been never in actual fact proven.

CH: When his father died of lung cancer in 1987 and Lee Kun-Hee grew to turn into Samsung’s novel chairman, the firm’s managers had been…eager.

GC: They idea that he could well well be… now not the form of remarkable chief. So, even B.C. Lee, earlier than he died, he in actual fact predicted that Samsung would factual collapse, it would collapse.

CH: Not mighty religion to your kids. (laughs)

GC: No, no, no.

CH: To be horny to Lee Kun-Hee, Samsung became now not in remarkable shape when it fell into his hands. It had made remarkable strides within the electronics industry throughout the 1970s, but on a world scale, it quiet wasn’t maintaining up with its competitors. And when Lee Kun-Hee in a roundabout way understood that Samsung became falling within the encourage of, he confronted an even bigger snort.

GC: His executives had been now not listening to him. They had been blowing him off. They called him a fortunate inheritor. They called him this rich kid who doesn’t in actual fact know industry. So, Lee Kun-Hee, the novel chairman, he in actual fact desires to masks himself. He desires to masks that he’s obtained the stuff, he’s obtained what it takes, and he desires to put himself as a predominant chief of this firm.

CH: So, he ordered a series of secret video recordings to be made interior his derive factories. And what he noticed became frightful. For example, in one video, the lids of Samsung’s washing machines had been too fat.

GC: So, as a substitute of restructuring the manufacturing facility direction of to invent sure that they’re better quality machines, the manufacturing facility workers would expend all this time shaving off a diminutive bit bit, factual taking a diminutive knife and factual shaving piece of it off, and then they’d dash sell it, and then, of direction, they obtained complaints about tainted products. Chairman Lee realized, and that is in his writings, that now not simplest is that this in actual fact cross for the firm, but he calls it a cancer. He says that tainted products are a cancer, and it’s a criminal act in opposition to the firm to unlock a tainted product.

CH: Lee Kun-hee, who became in Germany learning ambiance pleasant manufacturing on the time, called up a crew of Samsung executives. He insisted they legend the choice, and then proceeded to yowl into the cellular phone for an hour. Cain says Samsung played this tirade over the audio system in its structures for years, cherish a very aggressive pep discuss for workers.

Then, Lee Kun-hee urged his executives to win on a aircraft. They’d 24 hours to win to Frankfurt.

GC: So, they all masks up. After which nobody is conscious of what exactly goes to happen, but they all bolt in, and so they take a seat down in this convention room, and he walks in, and there’s this heavy air within the room. Everybody is conscious of that one thing is wicked. Then he sits down on the rostrum, and then he factual yells at them. He releases this nettle.

CH: For eight hours, without a rupture, Lee Kun-Hee dressed down Samsung’s high management in a spitting fury.

GC: Telling them what a frightful job they’ve been doing and how they have to commerce every part. They deserve to rethink this firm, rethink who they are, rethink what it technique to be a Samsung Man, and then he leaves them with this note of advice, that it is major to commerce every part excluding your companion and children. He says that at the same time as you happen to provide a tainted product three cases, you will resign. So, everyone is freaked out, and so they realize they can’t live ignoring him, and in fact, they discontinue deserve to win shifting.

CH: Lee Kun-Hee would expend the subsequent three months on a lecture circuit of kinds. He visited Samsung campuses and unleashed his frustration on auditoriums beefy of workers. Over time, his speeches had been transcribed and grew to turn into into an 8,500 page handbook.

GC: That became the turning point. They realized, the apprehension bell became ringing, and this became when it became in actual fact time to commerce issues.

CH: It worked. Over the direction of the next a long time, Samsung had extra special success. It established itself as an exact contender within the U.S. market. By 2012, the Galaxy S made Samsung the market chief in smartphones. In 2014, Samsung in most cases broke Twitter. It planted a Galaxy smartphone in Ellen DeGeneres’ pocket when she hosted the Oscars. She outdated faculty it to determine a large identify-studded selfie…

ELLEN DEGENERES: Lean in, Channing, at the same time as you happen to could well well win in additionally…

CH: …with Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and a complete … galaxy of celebrities…

ED: Brad, win in right here! No, I’m taking it. Brad, Lupita!

CH: In South Korea, Samsung grew to turn into mighty extra primary. This day, it makes up 15% of the country’s GDP. Of us dream of sending their children to work there. There’s even one thing called the SAT – the Samsung Aptitude Take a look at.

GC: The Samsung SAT is a nationwide entrance examination that, for most of Samsung’s ancient previous, determined who would enter.

CH: Only about five p.c of the almost 100,000 annual SAT-takers dash on to the subsequent stage of Samsung’s hiring. Again, Professor Shin:

GWK: You know, folks verbalize there’s this Samsung Listing, cherish these these that Samsung I recount care or hear to, and at the same time as you happen to don’t belong to that list, then you in fact’re now not in actual fact vitality elite in Korea (laughs). So… I imply, it is doubtless you’ll per chance well well presumably discuss, but it technique that Samsung has in actual fact turn into a sturdy crew in Korea. It’s previous… because their affect is in all places. Not simplest in industry, but in politics, in per chance training, in custom, in in all places.

CH: But at the same time as Lee Kun-Hee reworked Samsung into a family identify around the field, he had one other snort. Love his father had done for him, Lee Kun-Hee became resolute to dash the industry on to his son, Jay Lee. The thing is, Samsung had turn into so fat, handing over steal watch over became a lot extra complicated: Jay Lee wished to derive a controlling stake in Samsung’s companies if he wished to be accountable. And that wasn’t going to be easy.

GC: So, Samsung has a machine of irascible-shareholdings, and this is what permits Samsung to raise its family in vitality. So, the Samsung Lee family in actual fact does now not derive Samsung.

CH: You might want to have in solutions that “Samsung” is admittedly numerous totally different companies. There’s the electronics firm that you simply potentially affiliate with the identify, but there’s additionally “Everland” – which owns the Samsung theme park, and there’s Cheil Industries, which makes textiles. There’s additionally Samsung Lifestyles Insurance. Samsung Air….

GC: It’s factual the form of bewildering complicated construction of better than 50 affiliates that every appear to derive a fraction of every totally different. And all of it studies encourage by means of these convoluted zigzag lines, going the total way as much as the Lee family and Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

CH: So, Lee Kun-Hee had to identify easy easy suggestions to win all these shifting parts to sync up factual good so as that when the needle skidded to a continue to exist this sport of “musical shares,” Jay Lee would stop up in the good chair.

GC: So, there became a shady sale of shares. That’s slightly a tongue-twister.

CH: That first shady sale of shares – whew! that is complicated – landed a few Samsung executives in court within the mid-90s. Then, A couple of years later, Lee Kun-Hee became stumbled on responsible of bribery…

GC: but then he became never in actual fact sentenced to an exact penal advanced time. He had his sentence commuted, and then the president pardoned him and mentioned, ‘You’re now now not a convicted criminal who bribed a previous president, so don’t fear.’ Right here’s that aged pattern. ‘Time to dash encourage to Samsung and derive our nation.’

CH: Then, factual over ten years later, in 2008, Samsung and South Korea’s govt had been encourage in court, all over again over disorders connected to making sure Jay Lee’s ascension to the Samsung throne. Prosecutors brought Chairman Lee Kun-Hee encourage to court, this time on allegations of tax evasion and breach of have confidence.

GC: So, within the stop, he became sentenced to penal advanced. The mediate commuted all of it over again, and then the president of Korea gave him one other pardon and mentioned, ‘Alright. Now it’s time to dash encourage,’ for the reason that Samsung chairman became on the Olympics committee, so they wished to disclose him to strive to foyer to win that Iciness Olympics in Korea.

CH: As of nowadays, Jay Lee is quiet now not the chairman of Samsung. And that’s partly because, despite the total lengths he went to, his father, Lee Kun-Hee, did not enact placing the total pieces in location earlier than having a heart attack in Also can of 2014. Lee Kun-Hee became hospitalized, and rapidly afterwards, suffered a predominant stroke.

GC: He’s been confined to a sanatorium suite on the Samsung Clinical Center, and he’s, nobody’s heard from him or seen him in public since 2014.

CH: Six years?

GC: Six years.

CH: So, theoretically, he’s running the firm but has been absent?

GC: He’s the chairman of Samsung, and he’s voted in shareholder meetings, but he’s absent, and nobody’s heard from him. He’s unable to be in contact. I’ve heard that he can, and it’s been reported that he can dash his eyes, I imply, Samsung is amazingly tight-lipped about it, even internally. I’ve heard from executives that they don’t discuss it, and so they’re urged now to not discuss it. The chairman’s health is one in all the most sensitive issues at Samsung.

CH: Then who’s running the firm?

CH: The solution to that ask, and the return of South Korea’s most controversial horses… after the rupture.


CH: We’re encourage.

Samsung has survived for 82 years by means of two valuable international wars, and big technological and financial adjustments, all below the management of the Lee family. However the closing decade has been a rough one. First, the firm obtained into a high-profile, seven-twelve months lawful battle with Apple.

PBS: Apple claims Samsung has illegally copied an working machine it says it pioneered in iPhones and iPads. It’s searching for $2.5 billion in damages.

CH: Sooner than settling out of court, Apple and Samsung’s strive in opposition to snowballed into one in all the biggest patent suits on legend. Then, of direction, you’ll have in solutions the Galaxy Impress 7, that’s the person who exploded..

CNN: The Galaxy Impress 7 is needless, and Samsung is in a disastrous misfortune.

ABC: Oh my god, [unintelligible] automobile… The Impress 7s, burning and exploding in vehicles, properties, and at work. It sounded cherish it bursted, and then there became smoke in all places. CH: Samsung became pressured to discontinue two remembers after devices around the world began spontaneously combusting. They had been in a roundabout way banned by U.S. airways and the firm became reduced to a punchline within the 2016 news cycle.

COLBERT: I possess a sure message for anybody watching tonight’s masks on their Samsung Galaxy Impress 7: speed to your lives! [laughter]

GC: There had been some pranksters who released the Colossal Theft Auto mod. And this became a well known mod on the time, but it is doubtless you’ll per chance well well presumably in actual fact dash into a store on this video sport and resolve these explosive Galaxy Impress 7s and then hurl them at vehicles and stuff and blow police up and discontinue all this. Yeah, they had been cherish grenades.

CH: But neither of these public relatives ordeals be pleased a candle to what came about next. Because now, Samsung’s management and the future of the Lee dynasty – it became all utilizing… on about a horses.

ARIRANG: A series of the witnesses which will most definitely be put of abode to testify nowadays attain from the horseback utilizing community…

CH: That’s good. In February 2017, Jay Lee, the chosen one, became arrested and positioned on trial for bribing a shut good friend of South Korea’s president… with that trio of horses – Rausing, Salcido, and Vitana. Remember them?

ARIRANG: Samsung offered nearly 7 million US dollars to Jung’s utilizing coaching and became allegedly planning to give an extra 19 million dollars.

CH: So let me dash encourage a few years to strive to masks what came about. In 2014, after his father Lee Kun-Hee became hospitalized, Jay Lee did not resolve steal watch over of Samsung. To pick a seek for at and repair this, Jay Lee, alongside with totally different firm executives, took a series of steps that… raised some eyebrows.

ARIRANG: And in most up-to-date commerce news, two valuable items in Korea’s biggest conglomerate, Samsung Neighborhood, possess presented a merger.

GC: Samsung would verbalize that these mergers and fragment gross sales are in actual fact to consolidate industry items, but at the same time as you happen to scrutinize at what’s being consolidated, it’ll be cherish the theme park firm is being consolidated with the pattern firm and the craze firm, and it’s cherish, why discontinue you wish a firm that does these three issues? It’s to put apart Jay Lee in vitality.

CH: The merger drew the dignity of Samsung’s shareholders, who had to vote on whether or now not or now to not approve it. A US-primarily primarily based entirely hedge fund, identified for its aggressiveness, obtained eager, and rapidly, the complete thing devolved into an all-out battle for votes between these shareholders who opposed the merger and Samsung. And Samsung did now not deserve to lose.

GC: They went to all forms of diminutive time shareholders and give them truffles and watermelons and fruits and present them that Samsung is the nation, and ‘we must quiet pink meat up Samsung because it’s predominant for the long speed of Korea.’ One day, they positioned on factual dozens of commercials and newspaper adverts. They took out all forms of magazine adverts and net adverts. I have in solutions I could well well flip on my TV, and I noticed the industrial, and it would masks all these Samsung workers. It would masks a producing facility worker and then a construction worker and a shipyard worker, and so they’re explaining to you why Samsung is so predominant, and this merger must plow by means of, so we implore the Korean folks to thrill pink meat up us.

CH: Samsung took totally different steps that gave its allies mighty extra vote casting vitality. At one point, Cain says South Korea’s an analogous of the CIA even obtained eager, spying on the opposition on the firm’s behalf. Samsung in actual fact wished this merger to dash by means of. And in a roundabout way, it did.

NEWS: Samsung Neighborhood’s founding family victorious over US hedge fund Elliott Friends as shareholders vote in resolve on for the merger of two Samsung affiliates.

CH: Even in the end of that, even though, Jay Lee quiet did not possess ample shares to determine over the family industry. And earlier than he had of mission to invent one other dash, a remarkable scandal erupted that gripped all of South Korea. It connected this merger with the impeachment of the country’s president, Park Geun-Hye.

BBC: The moment a president became ousted. The top of South Korea’s best doubtless court says President Park dedicated a grave breach of the law.

CH: A major Korean broadcaster stumbled on President Park wasn’t in actual fact running her govt. As a substitute, it became being managed by a shut consultant and confidant who now not simplest did not possess an legit role, she became additionally the daughter of a Korean cult chief.

This revelation sparked the biggest protests in South Korea’s democratic ancient previous – a complete lot of thousands of folks took to the streets. President Park’s approval ratings fell to 4 p.c.

And within the middle of this political crisis, prosecutors revealed that Samsung had offered the money to resolve horses for the President’s confidante. The horses had been for her daughter. In return, the consultant alongside with the President, would grunt the country’s pension fund to pink meat up Samsung within the merger that helped Jay Lee consolidate vitality. We reached out to Samsung for a verbalize on these allegations. It did not acknowledge.

GC: It’s a rabbit gap. It’s a peculiar memoir. It’s one in all the most weird reviews I’ve ever lined as a journalist.

CH: All of it – the horses, the watermelons, the spies – all of it became done to pave the formula within the very complicated transition of Samsung from father to son. Unfortunately, for Jay Lee, he became stumbled on responsible of bribery and embezzlement and sentenced to 5 years in penal advanced. But then, a well-diagnosed refrain:

GC: He served one twelve months in penal advanced and then he went to his attraction trial and in fact the mediate let him out. So, they upheld piece of his bribery mark, but then it became the identical thing all over again. Right here’s when that pattern kicks encourage in and so they mentioned, ‘Alright, you’re quiet responsible, but you’re free to dash because we’re going to lessen your mark.’

CH: The prosecution appealed and South Korea’s supreme court ordered a retrial that could well well lead to extra jail time for Jay Lee.

In the middle of all this, there’s one remarkable unanswered ask: Who goes to speed Samsung?

Now, Remember, Jay Lee’s father – who’s quiet chairman – hasn’t been seen in years. Conspiracy theorists think he’s already died. And as for Jay Lee? The commonly held assumption is he’ll quiet pick over Samsung some day, in the end this blows over. But what happens after that is unclear.

CH: What’s Samsung if the Lee family is now not as actively running it?

GC: Without the Lee family, it’s cherish eliminating the core. It’s cherish eliminating one in all the decisions of their existence. I mediate that numerous Samsung executives can’t factor in a Samsung without a family member on the helm.

CH: In the confusion of the previous couple of years, how is the firm doing?

GC: It’s in actual fact, it’s been doing slightly effectively. So in 2017, Samsung overtook Apple because the most a success tech firm within the world. And this became because the inheritor Jae Lee became sitting in jail. So everyone’s sitting there wondering, ‘Okay. Smartly, at the same time as you happen to’re doing this effectively and also you’re pushing the South Korean stock market to legend highs, why discontinue you wish this inheritor who’s sitting in jail good now? What motive does he abet?’

CH: Because the long speed of the Lee family’s steal watch over of Samsung is unclear, many South Koreans are evaluating how they feel about the firm.

GWK: Perfect cherish in any totally different match, any totally different folks or organization, there’s a loyal and cross, good?

CH: Again, professor Gi-Wook Shin.

GWK: And, you know, you know why Samsung is getting criticism, especially from Korean folks, I imply there’s some loyal reason to discontinue that. But on the identical time, my general glimpse is that Samsung deserves extra credit and admire.

CH: A couple of years within the past, Shin in actual fact met Jay Lee. One in every of the centers Shin leads trains a few Samsung executives every twelve months. And Shin says, having met the once and future chairman, and being impressed with him, all of it makes watching what’s happening now hard.

GWK: You, know seeing him plow by means of this all troubles, I feel so sorry, personally. But on the identical time, I perceive why the Korean public is so predominant of what they’ve done.

CH: Professor Shin says there seems to be to be a generational divide in how South Koreans feel about Samsung. The older technology, Koreans who lived by means of the battle and watched their country battle to rebuild, they cherish what the Lee family executed and what it’s done for his or her country.

The youthful technology, nonetheless, grew up with Samsung semiconductors embedded in all their electronic devices. Samsung is a large, world firm. They are in most cases happy with this, but this technology didn’t abilities where South Korea began, and don’t possess the form of connection to the firm their folks and grandparents discontinue.

And that could well well imply a sure form of future for Samsung and the Lee family.

GWK: It factual can’t proceed within the formula that they possess got got within the previous. It’s a sure technology. Now folks interrogate extra transparency, extra equity, extra justice. So unless and till they work out this succession snort, they’ll proceed to win criticism from Korean society and Korean folks. And I mediate that’s where we’re good now.

CH: A couple of weeks after we spoke to Professor Shin, Jay Lee, who’s quiet the de-facto chairman of Samsung, made an unheard of announcement: He now now not plans to dash on the management of Samsung to his children. In a rare press convention, he acknowledged that every the complications on the firm – the scandals, the corruption costs – began attributable to the succession subject. After which, he apologized.

If he follows by means of on that promise, Jay would possibly maybe be the closing Lee to speed Samsung, and the family’s steal watch over of their industry empire will attain to an stop after three generations.


Geoffrey Cain’s novel e-book in most cases called Samsung Rising: The Interior Memoir of the South Korean Big That Build of abode Out to Beat Apple and Conquer Tech.

This episode became produced by Sarah Wyman, with Julia Press and me, Charlie Herman.

You must well well steal with the team in our Fb crew or on Twitter, we’re @BTYBpod. And naturally, our inbox is constantly launch: [email protected] For these who’re enjoying the season up to now, discontinue us a resolve on and depart a assessment on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you hear-it in actual fact does win the note out.

Particular thanks this week to Gotham Podcast Studio and Claire Banderas.

Our editor is Micaela Blei, Our sound engineer is Invoice Moss. Song is from Audio Community. John DeLore and Casey Holford aloof our theme. Dan Bobkoff is the podfather. Sarah Wyman is our showrunner.

Dropped at you by… is a producing of Insider Audio.

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