Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Memo to Myself: Never Blog About Samsung

(Image from LA Times)

I sure don't want to blog on this story! According to John M. Glionna, "Samsung doesn't find satirical spoof amusing" (Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2010), the British journalist Michael Breen is being sued by Samsung for libel over a satirical article that he wrote last Christmas for the Korea Times:
In his Christmas Day 2009 column for the Korea Times, Michael Breen decided to lampoon such national newsmakers as President Lee Myung-bak and the pop idol Rain.

Headlined "What People Got for Christmas," the English-language column also poked fun at global technology giant Samsung Electronics, referring to past bribery scandals as well as perceptions that its leaders are arrogant.

The piece was meant as a satirical spoof, the columnist says, but Samsung wasn't laughing.

Breen's column ran as local media reported that President Lee would soon pardon Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee on a 2008 conviction for tax evasion. Chairman Lee, 68, had already received a federal pardon in the 1990s on a conviction for bribing two former presidents while he was with the firm.

On Dec. 29, the day of Lee's pardon, Samsung sued the freelance columnist, the newspaper and its top editor for $1 million, claiming damage to its reputation and potential earnings. After the Korea Times ran clarifications, the newspaper and its editor were dropped from the suit.
What's Samsung's official legal position? The LA Times informs us:
Samsung said the comments go beyond the definition of satire allowed under South Korean law.

The lawsuit refers to Breen as a Korean "specialist" with wide-ranging influence. Since 80% of its revenues are from overseas, the firm is sensitive to any "minor accident or mistake" that could adversely affect its international reputation, the suit said.

"Even though anyone who read or heard of this article knows that this is not true, they can mention this as a joke, which can be spread easily, so its damage is very serious," the lawsuit read.
Given Samsung's hardline position about its tender feelings, I definitely won't do any posting on this topic, and certainly not a post focused on pointing out that a suit of this sort making the news in a major, globally read paper like the LA Times is likely to incur far more ridicule than an otherwise forgetable spoof in a small Korean paper that few people read anyway.

In short, no blog post from the Gypsy Scholar on this story -- I wouldn't want Samsung to take any remarks of mine the wrong way.

UPDATE: The Marmot says the suit has just been dropped, so it's now bloggable . . . though perhaps no longer blogworthy.

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At 10:52 PM, Anonymous seth said...

The Korean Times (online-english) is a bauble-trove, a true national sinquirer! Where-else "Transvestite boy fools sex-buying men, police" (with trash-blurb "reader" (sic) comments) juxtaposed against Andrei Lankov's superb "Dawn of Modern Korea" series? Here's hopin TKT don't "bolt u down raw" for such skyllas denigration.

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the comment. If the KT does want to sue, I can always ask them to finally pay up for the articles that I wrote for the paper last year, so there might be a standoff.

I'd be more worried about offending Samsung, however.

Jeffery Hodges

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