This is a partial list of the businesses of Samsung, the South Korean business
empire: smartphones, microchips, insurance, gas ovens, hospitals, dishwashers, cargo ships, stocks, microwave ovens, apartment buildings, vacuum cleaners, credit cards, pharmaceuticals, air-conditioners
is South Korea’s No 1 brand and when all its products are added together, its single biggest export. It dominates South Korean business
and social life in a way that can be difficult for outsiders to comprehend.
That dominance may make it difficult to keep its top executive in prison.
A South Korean court on Friday shocked the country by sentencing Lee Jae-yong, the third-generation de facto leader of one of the world’s largest business
empires, to five years in prison
after his conviction of bribery, embezzlement and other charges.
Lee’s attorneys have said they will appeal, and experts predict a fierce legal battle.
Lee is not the first big business
figure in South Korea
to be convicted, but if he stays in prison
it would represent something of a milestone. His father, Samsung’s longtime chief, was twice convicted of crimes and twice pardoned by a South Korean president. Other top business
South Korean leaders have avoided conviction, negotiated light sentences or been allowed to run their corporate
empires from prison.
South Korea’s government is now run by a president, Moon Jae-in, and a political party that have criticised the excesses of the country’s biggest companies.
That has many in South Korea
predicting that Lee, if his conviction is upheld, will serve out his prison
term. But to many South Koreans, Samsung
and its many corporate
offshoots symbolise the country’s rise from war and poverty to become one of the original Asian economic success stories. Should Samsung
stumble while Lee is in prison, public pressure
could mount to free him.
is the No 1 brand of Korea, one we’re proud of,” said Cho Wung-ki, a 78-year-old retired businessman, whose son works at a Samsung
company that provides engineering services, runs resorts and owns a fashion line. “That’s why I don’t believe putting Lee Jae-yong
helps the country at all.”
©2017 The New York Times News Service