South Korea, the Republic of Samsung

“So sprawling is Samsung’s modern-day empire that some South Koreans say it has become possible to live a Samsung-only life: You can use a Samsung credit card to buy a Samsung TV for the living room of your Samsung-made apartment on which you’ll watch the Samsung-owned pro baseball team,” Chico Harlan reports for The Washington Post.

“Samsung is South Korea’s greatest economic success, and, more recently, the subject of major controversy,” Harlan reports. “Economists, owners of small- and medium-size businesses, and some politicians say Samsung no longer merely powers the country but overpowers it, wielding influence that nearly matches that of the government.”

Harlan reports, “Debate over how to curb the size and power of Samsung and other family-run conglomerates has become the key issue in South Korea’s Dec. 19 presidential election, with polls showing that about three in four voters say they feel negatively about the country’s few behemoth businesses. Candidates are sparring over how far to go to constrain them.”

“Samsung draws the greatest scrutiny because it is by far the largest chaebol – the Korean term for corporate groups that were jump-started with government support – and because it is wildly prosperous as the rest of the economy slows down. The conglomerate contributes roughly a fifth of South Korea’s gross domestic product. Some Koreans call the country ‘The Republic of Samsung,’” Harlan reports. “‘You can even say the Samsung chairman is more powerful than the South Korean president,’ said Woo Suk-hoon, host of a popular economics podcast. ‘Korean people have come to think of Samsung as invincible and above the law.’”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We haven’t tagged it Samsungorea for nothing.

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

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “silverhawk1” for the heads up.]