Samsung dragged into South Korean presidential turmoil

9 Nov 2016

Samsung advertising sign. Image: JPstock/Shutterstock

Samsung’s woes continue as the South Korean corporate giant has found itself wrapped up in the ongoing political scandal involving the country’s president, Park Geun-hye.

As Samsung tries to put out one costly fire that nearly got out of control, it finds itself thrown into another one – this time in its native country.

In recent weeks, the Asian economic powerhouse has found itself thrown into political turmoil after reports emerged that South Korean president Park Geun-hye was being influenced by Choi Soon-sil, a daughter of a former religious cult leader.

$3.1m for dressage training

Described as a Rasputin-like figure to Park, it was alleged that the person with no legal political power in South Korea influenced nearly everything the president was doing, from insignificant things like deciding her outfit to more serious ones, like accessing classified state documents.

Another revelation was that Park ensured Choi would receive millions of dollars worth of funding from the state’s largest companies.

These revelations have not gone down well with either the South Korean people or those in government, who have begun investigations into how widespread this alleged corruption has become.

As the country’s largest employer, Samsung is being drawn into the scandal. Its headquarters were raided on 8 November to investigate whether it gave $3.1m to a German company Choi owned.

This money, the Yonhap news agency reported, was used by Choi to fund dressage training for her own daughter.

Costly American apology

In the coming weeks, it is understood Samsung executives will be brought in for questioning by authorities, to determine whether any deals were struck with Park that would see illegal donations made to the company.

As the raid occurred, the company was busy trying to make amends with its American customers following the Note7 recall disaster.

In a full page newspaper advert taken out in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, the company apologised, saying it is “moving forward to make things right”.

According to the most recent numbers, 2.8m Note7 devices – deemed a flight hazard risk because of a faulty and potentially dangerous battery – have been recalled in the US alone.

Samsung advertising sign. Image: JPstock/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic