We have been following the lawsuit (now dropped) against a writer in England by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) for his criticism of their profession. Now, Samsung is suing a columnist for making from of its executives, who have been involved in a series of criminal cases and controversies. Michael Breen with the Korea Times is being sued for defamation for a parody by the electronic giant. The company is pursuing both civil and criminal charges against Breen — a move that seems to struggle to confirm the arrogance and heavy-handedness alleged in the column.
Breen wrote a column on Christmas Day 2009 entitled ‘What People Got for Christmas,” making fun of the company for past bribery scandals. Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee was to receive a pardon for a 2008 conviction for tax evasion. He was previously pardoned in the 1990s for bribing two former presidents.
Samsung officials are viewed as untouchable or, as described in the article below, effective royalty. While the paper ran two corrections (including one reportedly written by the company), it is still pursuing the columnist.
Companies like Samsung are called chaebols and their executives are treated as part of a different class.
The lawsuit shows the pressures and vulnerabilities of journalists in other countries. Breen should receive the international support of journalists and civil libertarians around the world. Perhaps this L.A. Times article will help bring greater attention to his plight. It attacks on this columnist make you wonder what Samsung means by its new motto: “Inspire the World, Change the Future.”
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