Leaked texts reveal Samsung’s manipulation of South Korean media

“South Korea’s so-called ‘trial of the century’ has seen Samsung’s crown prince Lee Jae-yong, the company’s vice-chairman, accused of bribing ousted president Park Geun-hye – but it has also shone new light on the depths of the electronics firm’s media manipulation,” Max S. Kim reports for The Guardian. “The company is awaiting this Friday’s verdict on several of Samsung’s current and former top executives, for their alleged involvement in a political scandal that has rocked South Korea. Lee could face a 12-year jail term if convicted of bribing Park to push through a controversial merger in 2015.”

“One strand of the trial has prompted national debate on Samsung’s oversized influence. Leaked text messages sent to one of the Samsung executives on trial, used as part of the prosecutor’s evidence against the company, have suggested some parts of the national media may have been prepared to collude with Samsung,” Kim reports. “The messages sent in August 2016 to Samsung’s former top lobbyist Jang Chung-gi were first published by media outlets Sisain and Media Today in July and August. They include numerous requests for favours made by media executives and journalists, sent while he was deputy chief of Samsung’s group corporate strategy office. They paint an unambiguous picture of the power dynamic at play, with meticulous use of Korean honorifics and a strikingly deferential tone.”

“One text message from managing editor Kim Byeong-jik at South Korean daily Munhwa Ilbo asks Jang to grant the paper funding in the form of additional advertising contracts, saying: ‘I apologise for the shameless favour I am about to ask of you … I ask that you take interest in and take care of us on this. I’m sorry. I’ll be sure to repay you in the future with good articles and good papers,'” Kim reports. “On the day of Lee’s arrest, the paper published an editorial that lamented the event with the headline: ‘Lee Jae-yong’s arrest and the country where it’s difficult to run a business.'”

“The texts are a window into the troubling relationship between Samsung and the media, which has come under increasing pressure from politicians and freedom of press advocates,” Kim reports. “The brazenness, and some suggest collusive nature, of the leaked texts has struck a harsh chord with South Koreans, but this is not the first time Samsung has been criticised for suppressing critical media coverage.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Ah, the good old corrupt Republic of Samsung. Some things never change.

Samsung is intertwined into South Korea like a stage IV cancer. MacDailyNews, August 7, 2017

Samsungorea. It sounds like a disease because it is. — MacDailyNews, September 11, 2012

Prosecutors seek 12 years in jail for Samsung heir – August 7, 2017
Samsung’s acting head Lee Jae-yong indicted on bribery charges as scandal grows – February 28, 2017
South Korean court approves arrest of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong – February 16, 2017
South Korean prosecution again seeks arrest of Samsung chief – February 14, 2017
Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong escapes arrest in massive bribery scandal – January 20, 2017
South Korea attempting to handicap Apple by demanding the removal of preinstalled apps like the App Store – July 7, 2016
Korea Fair Trade Commission clears Samsung’s use of standard-essential patents against Apple – February 27, 2014
South Korea, the Republic of Samsung – December 10, 2012
Welcome to South Korea, the ‘Republic of Forgery’ – September 11, 2012
Samsung’s ‘Instinct’ is obviously to make Apple iPhone knockoffs – April 1, 2008

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “AlanAudio” for the heads up.]


  1. This isn’t just about Samsung. It’s the close ties between giant family-run corporations (or Chaebol, as they’re known in Korea) and close ties with the government.

    We have some of the same situation here, except most of the giant conglomerates are no longer family-run. The often incestuous relationship between Wall St. and Capitol Hill (and the White House) does no favors for the average American, just as Samsung’s moves do no favor for the average Korean (or, in the case of MDN, the average smartphone user).

  2. Samsung spends about 10 times in advertising than Apple. 10+ billion vs Apple’s billion plus.

    Besides creating ‘fake news’ web sites where they review rival products unfavourably and hiring astroturfers (fake Samsung consumers praising Samsung and condemning rival products in forums. “I really LOVE my Samsung phone while my old iPhone antenna failed ” ) which has already gotten them fined in several countries (Samsung paid a big fine and publicly apologized in Taiwan ) — we now know where else they spend their ad money.

    I bet you the reason why when that Samsung galaxy Note was setting garages and cars on fire so many new outlets were slow or outright refused to condemn Samsung including numerous tech sites. Some still had the Note as 5 stars and ‘conviction buy’ AFTER Airlines banned them…

    They had all received Samsung ad money and were worried that in the future the ‘tap would go dry’ if they said anything.

    (Reviewers also make a lot more money reviewing the numerous Android phones including dozens of Samsung devices vs the few iPhones so they want to protect their bread basket . So whenever you see a ‘glowing’ android review.. minus a few ‘stars’ and you’ll get it right).

      1. thanks…

        I forgot to add that Samsung used to have their Tech Blog Award (which they might still have) — I can’t remember the exact name – where they give a fat cash prize to the ‘Best’ tech blogs…

        the Guardian:

        :”For the two technology bloggers from India, it looked like a dream invitation from the electronics giant Samsung: it would pay for their flights and accommodation to cover the IFA trade fair in Berlin, where the season’s biggest tech announcements are made, under an outreach programme called “Samsung Mobilers”.

        But the dream turned sour when Clinton Jeff and a colleague were told on arriving that they would be issued with uniforms and expected to work as staff on the booths – showing off new Samsung products to the press, rather than writing about them.

        And when the duo protested, Samsung withdrew their funding – leaving them stranded thousands of miles from home without a plane ticket back, nor means to pay their hotel bill.”


        1. At least Samsung didn’t confiscate their passports when they arrived making them modern-day slaves… or perhaps that was one of the terms they objected to.

  3. I was quite intrigued that the first report I read of this story was in the Guardian.

    For many years, and especially during the nine year tenure of their technology editor Charles Arthur, The Guardian tended to be somewhat supportive of Apple and it’s products and was a reliable source for Apple-related information, but once Arthur was replaced, they suddenly became consistently negative towards Apple and suspiciously supportive of Samsung. I’ve often wondered exactly what influenced The Guardian to change so dramatically? It certainly smells fishy and makes me feel less trusting about other stories in their newspaper.

    Good journalism ( and also a good history text book ) includes two important elements. One is reporting the factual elements of events, while the other is to put them into some sort of context and analyse the implications and consequences of those facts. It’s that second aspect which makes particular news sources appear to align with certain political parties or other coteries. Any attempt to analyse events inevitably involves distorting that story either by omitting certain facts, or spinning elements of that story in a way which can deceive. I read a wide variety of material and find that if I am aware of bias or inaccuracy in an article on a topic about which I have some knowledge, then I’m much less confident about their other stories about which I have less knowledge.

    It’s similar to when you socialise with somebody who you have discovered tells lies. Clearly not everything said by a liar is a lie, but you know that some of it has been untrue, therefore you can’t trust what they tell you and are probably downgrading some truths because they came from an unreliable source. If journalists allow themselves to be deflected from telling the story honestly, then they can’t be trusted about any other story that they write.

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