And you thought Samsung was big enough already since it accounted for more than a fifth of Korea’s GDP.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung Electronics’ operating profit, at $3.14 billion, is more than two times larger than the combined operating profit of nine of Japan’s largest consumer electronic companies.  Samsung now has a $7.4 billion war chest to spend on growth and R&D where many of the Japanese companies are at an operating loss (Sony) or in huge debt (Hitachi).

Most analysts agree that the single biggest contributing factor is the relative weakness of the won and the relative strength of the yen.  Some may think that the won get’s unfair treatment in worldwide currency markets, but many Japan analysts believe that the yen also get’s unfairly valued.  The yen, rightly or wrongly, is considered a “safe” currency in these troubling times and that’s what’s driving up its value.

At the end of the day, Korean companies like Samsung are getting a boost in grabbing worldwide market share and many Japanese companies are crying uncle, wondering if the government will step in to relieve some pressure on what could be an overheating yen.

Update: Chosun Ilbo warns of complacency at Samsung.  Canary in the mine shaft?  A half million shoddy refrigerators build in China that had to be recalled.