Emails Show Collusion Between South Korean Journalists and Samsung

I don’t think long time Korea watcher are surprised by this kind of media collusion with Samsung:

“Dear respected Mr. Chang Choong-ki! …. I have finally mustered the courage to send you this text message, after hesitating again and again. My son XXX applied to the XXX department of Samsung Electronics…. His application number is 1XXXXXXX, and he graduated from XXX University with a degree in electrical engineering….”

The sender of the text is an anonymous journalist from CBS, a major Christian broadcaster in South Korea. He is essentially asking one of the most powerful men in Samsung Group to help his son get a job.

“I am always grateful to you,” the journalist wrote.

Chang Choong-ki is the former vice head of Samsung Group’s now-defunct Future Strategy Office, a central but opaque organ in the Samsung machine that sponsored media, dealt with government relations, and oversaw key business decisions across the conglomerate’s 70+ affiliates. Chang is also one of the key figures in the country’s biggest political scandal in recent memory, the so-called “Park Geun-hye/Choi Soon-sil Gate.”

The CBS journalist’s text message is one of many recovered from Chang Choong-ki’s phone by SisaIN, a South Korean magazine. This week, SisaIN released an exclusive by Joo Jin-woo, an investigative reporter well-known for tackling sensitive topics (even taboo, in some outlets) like Samsung and heads of state.

According to Joo, Chang had corresponded with a wide network of authorities in different sectors: officials in the presidential Blue House, the National Intelligence Service (South Korea’s spy agency), prosecutors, journalists, and more.

In one text, Im Chae-jin, a former head of South Korea’s Prosecution Service, mentioned his son-in-law, an employee at a Samsung factory in Suwon: “Can you help my [son-in-law] XXX be dispatched to India?” Im emphasized that his daughter also wanted the transfer.

In another, an anonymous journalist from major daily Munhwa Ilbo asked Chang to increase the amount of sponsorship for the newspaper. “We’ll reward you with good articles,” the anonymous reporter wrote.  [Korea Expose]

I recommend reading the whole thing at the link, but media collusion with not only industry, but political parties is something that is not only a problem in South Korea, but as the last election cycle showed, in the United States as well.

Samsung Heiress Avoids a $1 Billion Divorce Settlement

It looks like everything turned out alright for Lee Boo-jin’s divorce.  Her ex-husband was trying to get a billion dollars out of her and instead the court orders her to pay him $7.6 million.  She probably has that amount of money lying under her mattress:

The Seoul Family Court granted a divorce Thursday to Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Im Woo-jae, former adviser of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, ordering Lee to pay Im 8.6 billion won ($7.6 million) as part of the division of their assets.

The court gave Lee, the eldest daughter of bedridden Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, custody of the couple’s 10 year-old son.

The Thursday ruling is a setback for Im, whose 15-year-old marriage with Lee unraveled in 2014 when Lee sued for divorce. He had asked for 1.2 trillion won in dividing their assets.

The couple was represented at the court’s ruling by their lawyers. Under the ruling, Im will have visitation rights with his son only once a month between 11 a.m. on a Saturday and 4 p.m. the following day.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Chung Yoo-ra Testifies That Samsung Tried to Cover Up Purchasing Her A Horse

This appears to be the testimony that prosecutors have been spending all these months trying to get out of Chung Yoo-ra:

Chung Yoo-ra makes her unexpected appearance at the Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday as a witness in a trial for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. [YONHAP]

Chung made a bombshell revelation on Wednesday on the details of Samsung’s support for her training. Samsung provided her three expensive horses, Salcido, Vitana V and Rausing 1233 in 2015 and 2016. Choi swapped Salcido and Vitana V with Vladimir and Stasha in September, as the first media reports about the scandal began. The independent counsel argued that the trade of the horses was intended to cover up Samsung’s tie to Choi.

Chung testified that Samsung must have known about her mother’s trading of the horses. “I telephoned my equestrian coach, Christian Kamplade, in June and asked him about it,” she said. “He told me that my mother, [former Samsung Electronics president] Park Sang-jin and [former executive director] Hwang Sung-soo met in Copenhagen, Denmark, the day before trading the horses.”

She also said she has an audio recording of the conservation and that a broker for the deal also complained to her in English, “Samsung needs to pay me,” referring to delayed payments.

After the independent counsel discussed Samsung’s claim that Choi unilaterally made a decision to trade the horses without the company’s knowledge or approval, Chung said, “My mother told me that Samsung ordered to change the horses. It makes no sense that they were not aware of it.”

She added, “My mother told me that things will get noisy if word gets out Samsung is supporting just me before other athletes join the program.”

Lawyers representing Lee said Chung was only 18 years old when the deals were signed and she was not involved in the negotiations. Chung probably gave a testimony wanted by the independent counsel in order to avoid another warrant hearing, the lawyers said. The prosecution made two attempts to detain Chung, but both requests were rejected by a local court.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Really nothing new here because it has long been known that Samsung was sponsoring her equestrian training in return for influence from her mother.  Chung has just confirmed what was already known.

Samsung Heiress Lee Seo-hyun Named One of the Top 10 Most Beautiful Billionaires

It is hard to believe that she is 44-years old, she looks great:

Lee Seo-hyun, president of Samsung C&T’s fashion group

Samsung C&T’s fashion group President Lee Seo-hyun has been selected as one of the 10 most beautiful female billionaires in the world by Trendchaser, a U.S.-based outlet specializing in entertainment trends and news.

Lee is a daughter of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee. Her older brother is Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung, and her older sister is Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin.

Trendchaser introduced 10 female billionaires aged between 19 and 50 under the headline “Youth, Fame, Beauty, and Fortune: These Ladies Have it All.” It named Virgin Group heiress Holly Branson, Ralph Lauren’s daughter Dylan Lauren and Hearst heiress Amanda Hearst as well.

Trendchaser wrote that some of them made their fortunes on their own, while others inherited the family business.

Although the 44-year-old executive seems to be closer to the latter, the report noted she expanded the company’s business horizons into fashion and chemicals. She was also responsible for buying Italy-based fashion house Colombo Via Della Spiga.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but she is reportedly worth $1.5 billion.  If anyone is wondering she is married with four kids. They could have easily added her sister Lee Boo-jin to the list as well.

Lee Boo-jin and her ex-husband Im Woo-jae.

ROK Heads may remember that Lee Boo-jin recently went through a billion dollar divorce fight with her ex-husband.  So if there are any ROK Heads looking to marry a billionaire she is still available.

Lee Seo-hyun also has a brother.  Her brother is Samsung Chairman in waiting Lee Jae-yong who was arrested for corruption for his alleged role in the Choi Soon-sil scandal.  There is actually a fourth Lee sibling, Lee Yoon-hyung, but she tragically committed suicide all the way back in 2005 in New York City:

She was very pretty as well, but allegedly committed suicide because she was forbidden by her father from marrying her boyfriend because his class was too low in South Korea.

Picture of the Day: Samsung Galaxy S8’s First Subscriber

First subscriber to Galaxy S8

The first subscriber to Samsung Electronics Co.’s new smartphone Galaxy S8 receives a device from Taeyeon of K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation during a presale activation event in Seoul on April 18, 2017, which was hosted by No. 2 mobile carrier KT Corp. The Galaxy S8 is slated to hit South Korean and U.S. stores on April 21. (Yonhap)

Samsung Heir Lee Jae-yong Arrested for Corruption Linked to ROK Presidential Scandal

Considering the mountain of lawyers that Lee Jae-yong is sure to have I hope the ROK prosecutors have some indisputable evidence if they have any hope of convicting him:

Lee Jae Yong

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., enters the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul on Feb. 16, 2017, to attend a hearing on the legitimacy of his arrest sought for the second time by special prosecutors for alleged bribery involving impeached President Park Geun-hye and related to the merger of two of Samsung’s affiliates. (Yonhap)

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s de facto leader, was formally arrested Friday on charges of bribery in connection with a high-profile corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her friend.

With the Seoul Central District Court issuing the arrest warrant, Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., became the first leader of the country’s largest business group to be detained in a criminal probe.

The investigation team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, requested the writ for a second time on Tuesday — less than a month after its first request on Lee’s charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury was turned down.

In their second pursuit of the warrant, the prosecutors leveled more charges against the tycoon, including hiding criminal proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets abroad in the process of giving bribes to the president’s friend Choi Soon-sil.

“The rationale for and the necessity of (Lee’s) arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected,” the court said in a text message sent to reporters.

The court, however, rejected the request for a warrant to arrest Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, saying it is difficult to recognize the need for his detention.

Following the court’s decision, Lee is to stay at a detention center in Uiwang, south of Seoul, where he had been waiting for the ruling.

Prosecutors have suspected that Lee gave or promised some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Choi in exchange for the government’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Choi Soon-sil’s Niece Admits to Bribery Allegations Involving Samsung

It appears South Korean prosecutors have been able to flip Choi Soon-sil’s niece and she is testifying against her.  With Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong saying he felt pressured him to give money to Choi’s foundation and her own niece confirming the allegation, it seems the prosecutors have a very strong case against her now:

Chang Si-ho (front, L), Kim Chong (front, C) and Choi Soon-sil (front, R) stand trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a South Korean presidential impeachment scandal, clashed with a niece Tuesday over allegations they coerced Samsung Group into making donations to a sports foundation under their control.

Choi, her niece Chang Si-ho and former Vice Culture and Sports Minister Kim Chong were summoned to the Seoul Central District Court to testify on allegations they colluded to extort more than 1.6 billion won (US$1.35 million) in donations from the nation’s largest business group to the Korea Winter Sports Elite Center, which was established in June 2015.

Chang early on admitted that they forced the donations from Samsung and that she embezzled funds from the center. Her admission came a day after special prosecutors investigating the scandal sought an arrest warrant for Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery.

According to the prosecutors, Lee was involved in Samsung’s decision to give up to 43 billion won to various organizations linked to Choi in return for the Park Geun-hye administration’s backing of a merger between two companies belonging to the conglomerate in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but what I haven’t seen strong evidence of yet is how President Park Geun-hye was involved in all of this?

Picture of the Day: Former ROK Health Minister Arrives In Court

In this file photo taken on Dec. 31, 2016, Moon Hyung-pyo, former health minister, arrives at the special investigation team’s office in Seoul to undergo questioning. He was indicted on Jan. 16, 2017, over suspicions that he exerted pressure on the state pension fund to back a mega merger deal between top conglomerate Samsung Group’s two units when he was the minister in 2015. (Yonhap)