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MUST READ: Samsung vs. Mike Breen in the LAT

I guess it’s safe to blog now:

In his Christmas Day 2009 column for the Korea Times, Michael Breen decided to lampoon such national newsmakers as President Lee Myung-bak and the pop idol Rain.

Headlined “What People Got for Christmas,” the English-language column also poked fun at global technology giant Samsung Electronics, referring to past bribery scandals as well as perceptions that its leaders are arrogant.

The piece was meant as a satirical spoof, the columnist says, but Samsung wasn’t laughing.

Breen’s column ran as local media reported that President Lee would soon pardon Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee on a 2008 conviction for tax evasion. Chairman Lee, 68, had already received a federal pardon in the 1990s on a conviction for bribing two former presidents while he was with the firm.

On Dec. 29, the day of Lee’s pardon, Samsung sued the freelance columnist, the newspaper and its top editor for $1 million, claiming damage to its reputation and potential earnings. After the Korea Times ran clarifications, the newspaper and its editor were dropped from the suit.

But Samsung continues to pursue Breen personally for libel, both civilly and on criminal charges that he intentionally libeled the company. If convicted, he faces a hefty fine and even jail time.

To be frank, Mike’s case is chilling in the extreme. If Samsung is willing to go after a guy for US$1 million for penning a satire piece in the Korea Times right after their chairman gets sprung out of jail, you really have to wonder.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    This is a very sad development indeed. A lot of Koreans know they live in the “Republic of Samsung.” When one freak’in conglomerate owns +20% of your economy, that’s can’t be a good thing for freedom of press and expression. Korean, Inc. (not Koreans in general or necessarily the Korean government) is showing a really ugly side of itself to the rest of the English speaking world if it wants to try and “sue” the man who wrote the book on “The Koreans.”

    Nothing really good can come from this.

    As I’ve said before in several comments and posts here… maybe Samsung is too big and needs to be broken up eventually. From noodles to missiles to flat screen TVs… maybe a little focus and smaller size would help.

    Lastly, the Korean government complains that not enough positive foreign press comes to cover Korean society and industry. Again, persecuting the man who wrote the book on the Koreans won’t help in improving the situation either. Perhaps someone in Korean government with the right connections to Samsung could insert a little sanity and thoughtfulness, make a call to the appropriate channels and end this madness?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Oh… and having said that… I don’t think this whole thing will make a dent on Samsung Electronic’s overseas sales. Most of Europe and American think Samsung is a Japanese company anyways. A story like this is too esoteric for the regular consumer electronics buyer.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Ha… you gotta love this!

    The Korea Times “apology” for Breen’s original article.

    https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/opi_view.asp?newsIdx=59927&categoryCode=137

  • nkhusband

    If the Courts or the Korean Government allow this lawsuit to continue, the fallout will be huge. It just shows the intolerance here for critisism and humor. There is in effect no freedom of the press, because they always have to walk on eggshells. What I say? Samsung, Get a Life!

    Go sell some TVs or refridgerators, but leave the press alone and lighten up a little.

  • nkhusband

    And that correction that was printed in the Korean Times? Another cave-in to Samsung. Just shows you what a rag the Times really is.

  • Robin Hedge

    Wow, Brendon (Carr) is quoted so much in this LATimes article that his comments seem to make up most of the article.

    Very interesting article. Maybe Breen can share a jail cell with Minerva…

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Minerva was acquitted and got a free ride at a foreign university for his efforts… lucky bastard.

  • aaronm

    Just another reason why I don’t patronize the company. Time to put some black tape across the front of my favorite Chelsea shirt, too.

  • feld_dog

    What are the chances of conviction here? Is this just a “harrassment” suit, or could Mr. Breen *actually* be forced to cough up a big chunk o’ won, or even go to jail? And is there a legal defense fund? I’ll sure as hell contribute.
    I was a member of the “Babo-palooza” comedy fiasco in Busan in 2006. Sure glad we didn’t do any bits about Samsung. Oh, come to think of it, we did.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    I’m sure this lawsuit will do far more damage to Samsung than Breen ever could. I’ve been 100% satisfied with the Samsung products that I own, but in the future if there’s a choice I’ll be buying LG or Japanese.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    what responsibilty does mr breen have in this affair? the man’s been living in korea for a long time. he knew exactly what he was doing. comparing chairman lee to kim jong il IS libel in my book. samsung helped bring korea out of african style poverty. mr kim ate ice cream as two million of his countrymen starved.

    you can yell ‘nig%er’ in the se of dc. that’s your right. when you get beat up, that’s your fault. mr breen can make this go away by making amends. it’s as easy as picking up a pen and apologizing for reducing chairman lee to a terrorist savage.

    lastly, this won’t have any effect on samsung. those who think otherwise better stop dreaming.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Is this just a “harrassment” suit, or could Mr. Breen *actually* be forced to cough up a big chunk o’ won, or even go to jail?

    It seems to me just a bullying way to shut Breen up, and to make him back down and apologize. If this was filed in the States, wouldn’t it come under the SLAPP regulations and get tossed?

    I can’t possibly entertain the idea Samsung is willing to jail the guy for this. And on the chance they are, the government can’t possibly allow Samsung to bring THAT kind of bad press to Korea’s rep abroad.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Mr. Hedge — I’m not the only person interviewed for the case, but I was probably the most voluble.

  • hamel

    I don’t think this whole thing will make a dent on Samsung Electronic’s overseas sales. Most of Europe and American think Samsung is a Japanese company anyways.

    Actually, I heard around the traps that it is quite likely that Samsung enjoys this confusion and does not necessarily want to do to too much to clear it up.

  • feld_dog

    The Kim Jong-il allusion made by Mr. Breen was a satircal allusion to the cult of personality surrounding Chaebol leaders, and the sense that they are infallible, beyond reproach, and somewhat paranoid. Samsung’s response to this piece shows that the satire was absolutely on target. It sorta reminds me of muslims responding to cartoons suggesting that Islam is a violent religion with . . . violence. Q.E.D., Samsung.

  • Wedge

    This has the makings of a PR fail case study. They already have the vernacular press cowed–this will only help them in controlling the local English press, which, lets face it, aren’t the most influential of media outlets. If this goes FT or WSJ it starts damaging Three Stars orders of magnitude more than they could possibly hope to achieve.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘If this goes FT or WSJ it starts damaging Three Stars orders of magnitude more than they could possibly hope to achieve.’

    more threats brought on by ideas of grandeur. samsung should continue to pursue this until mr breen comes to his senses. comparing chairman lee to kim jong il is simply disrespectful.

    this will have no effect on samsung. btw, i’ll ask it again, how many of you will be giving up your i-phone on behalf of mr breen? brendon, gonna put your money where your mouth speaks? i didn’t think so.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    comparing chairman lee to kim jong il is simply disrespectful

    Comparing the men to each other, sure (although I would not use the word disrespectful). Comparing the cult of personality surrounding them, it’s a fair cop. The lawsuit and criminal charges are just proof of the original point.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    One can imagine… how many non-foreigners (i.e. Koreans) get the heavy handed treatment by a chaebol like Samsung when it comes to writing things that they don’t agree with. It’s because Breen got this treatment that perhaps the Koreans who have tried the same thing in the past and gotten squashed like bugs under a boot that some larger attention will be drawn to it.

  • lmno

    @15
    The Kim Jong-il allusion made by Mr. Breen was a satircal allusion to the cult of personality surrounding Chaebol leaders, and the sense that they are infallible, beyond reproach, and somewhat paranoid. Samsung’s response to this piece shows that the satire was absolutely on target.

    Excellent point. So satirizing the Dear Leaders™ of the South can get you in legal trouble just like satirizing the Dear Leader of the North!

    I guess Carr answered the questions posed by Breen’s book: The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want

    They want you to sit down and shut the hell up is what they want.

  • cmm

    I’ll repost here:

    A few months ago, didn’t someone here say that Breen spent some time as a Moonie?

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    wow! 17 votes on pawi on just 3 or 4 on everybody else? just goes to show you that so many of you can dish it out but just can’t take it when somebody else does the same. i can just see some of you shaking w rage as reach for that button. i think it’s funny because it proves how child-like so many of you are.

    mr breen was wrong to compare chairman lee to a cultish thug. he should apologize and stop trying to change the system of a country that isn’t his own. and his own is a country where libel tourism is a viable industry. go change your own country, mr breen.

  • Granfalloon

    While obviously none of us agree with it, the power of chaebols to control the media is a reality in Korea. No one should pretend otherwise. We can bitch and moan about how much Korea needs to modernize/globalize/Westernize/whatever-ize, but that won’t change the reality.

    Seems to me Samsung has painted themselves in a corner. Yes, it seems like PR suicide to pursue a lawsuit against an individual for a satire that hardly anyone read. But how can they back down? They’ve come out and said that the satire damages them. Letting Breen slide at this point would set a very interesting precedent.

    Perhaps Lee Kun-hee himself could come down from on high and, through sheer magnimousness and piety, grant absolution for the unworthy commoner (perhaps recognizing his “special situation”). Seems like Samsung’s best option, actually. Shit, I should be charging them for this.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    wow! 17 votes on pawi on just 3 or 4 on everybody else? just goes to show you that so many of you can dish it out but just can’t take it when somebody else does the same. i can just see some of you shaking w rage as reach for that button. i think it’s funny because it proves how child-like so many of you are.

    Get ready for it. Ya ready? Here it comes:

    “Whatever, Stretch.”

    There. That’s all the time and effort a response to your opinions deserve.

  • mbreen

    #22

    >>go change your own country, mr breen.<<

    Pawi, I just did. But now we have a well hung parliament. Sometimes, things just don't go the way you expect.

  • cmm

    pawii – I give you the thumbs-up every chance I get, but the computer I surf from most often must go through a firewall, and voting doesn’t work. So always add one more thumbs up for the true score.

  • hamel

    Pawikirogii:

    comparing chairman lee to kim jong il is simply disrespectful.

    You know guys, he’s right It *is* disrespectful. National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il is not a convicted felon.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Uh-oh. Better keep looking over your shoulder, hamel.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    very clever, mr breen. that should help you w your psychology cuz there’s nothing like being hung or hung up to dry. :-)

    thanks, cmm.

  • seoulmilk

    Am I missing something? I don’t see Mr. Carr’s quote anywhere. Anyway, until they drop the suit, I’m not gonna buy their products again.

  • dogbertt

    A few months ago, didn’t someone here say that Breen spent some time as a Moonie?

    I did. Perhaps Heavenly Father will pick up his defense costs.

    Good to see though that he hasn’t been cowed.

  • babotaengi

    i can just see some of you shaking w rage as reach for that button. i think it’s funny because it proves how child-like so many of you are.

    mr breen was wrong to compare chairman lee to a cultish thug. he should apologize and stop trying to change the system of a country that isn’t his own. and his own is a country where libel tourism is a viable industry. go change your own country, mr breen.

    Your the only one posting here to repeat yourseld ad infinitum. Who’s really shaking with anger there, Stretch Gyopostrong?

  • dogbertt

    wow! 17 votes on pawi on just 3 or 4 on everybody else? just goes to show you that so many of you can dish it out but just can’t take it when somebody else does the same. i can just see some of you shaking w rage as reach for that button. i think it’s funny because it proves how child-like so many of you are.

    Childlike is the blithering ninny who continues to whine about something so inconsequential as though what’s left of his diminished sense of self-worth depends on it. Grow the fuck up.

  • dogbertt

    That said, I’ll continue to purchase Samsung products.

  • dogbertt

    In South Korea, experts say, “Saturday Night Live”-style satire is not a common form of humor.

    Great line.

    “Samsung has financial power over the press. They’re their own sanctuary where no one can intervene or criticize them,” said Kim Keon-ho, an official at the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice.

    And let’s not forget that Samsung _was_ the press for many years.

  • R. Elgin

    Perhaps Samsung chairman Lee can issue Mr. Breen a pardon for his cheekiness, seeing how Mr. Lee has received a few during his time.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘I’ll continue to purchase Samsung products.’

    as will everyone else here.

  • mbreen

    #34
    >>That said, I’ll continue to purchase Samsung products.<<

    Me too. I don't associate this with my digital photoframe or my friends who work for Samsung.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    mr breen, may i use your photo for some cover art? i’d like to give you the royal treatment. i’ll understand if you can’t take a little ribbing.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936
  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    i bought his book many years ago. that’s means i’ve contributed to his endowment so there’s was no need for him to be so testy towards me. comparing lee kun hee to a terrorist went too far. that’s the only issue i have w him. btw, the photo is ready. i’m just waiting for his ok. let’s see if he’s really a good sport. nothing too contro. everybody’s seen the treatment i give those who are deserving of treatment.

  • mbreen

    #39 sure, go for it.

    btw, I don’t think I’ve given Kunhee (the “t” in the middle is silent) any worse treatment than you have in your picture thing here. He’s not compared to a terrorist. He’s compared to royalty because. The joke was a reference to last yr’s appointment of his son as COO. Even in Samsung they joke about the D.P.R.S.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Perhaps Heavenly Father will pick up his defense costs.

    I’m pretty sure “Heavenly Father” is Jehovah, while Rev. Moon Sun-Myung’s moniker is True Father. Supposedly they’re relatives. But True Father’s got deeper pockets.

  • mbreen

    For the record, I was approached last week to write an apology with a promise that, if accepted, the civil suit would be withdrawn and prosecutors would be informed and thereby encouraged to drop the criminal case. I did one that I was comfortable with. It was my second and the 4th altogether (the paper ran a “clarification” Dec 26 which Samsung didn’t notice and a “correction” Jan 29).

    If it doesn’t get withdrawn today, I’m in court tomorrow morning. They wanted 1bn Won, but the court suggested 25m as an out-of-court settlement. I said no, hence the first hearing this week. On the criminal case, I had a 5-hr interrogation by prosecutors in Jan and have heard nothing since.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    you are mistaken if you think my gravatar is an insult to chairman lee. only the righteous can wear the king’s robe, my friend.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Michael,

    I hope the powers that be realize that this is all a big huge waste of time for them… and more importantly for you.

    But hey, look at the bright side… at least you didn’t try to draw a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad… ;)

  • mbreen

    The point is that I misunderstand your intent and therefore you are damaging Mr Lee’s reputation. In other words, your defense is no defense. That’s precisely what Samsung has said to me.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Hang in there, Mr. Breen. It must be tough to have to put up with such bullshit and I can understand why you’d want to get this all behind you ASAP.

  • KrZ

    I hope pawi understands what just transpired. That was very well played.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Oh, and good luck trying to help Stretch understand anything.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    you don’t misunderstand anything, mr breen; you’re far too smart for that. just apologize to the man and get on w your life. being coy like you’re doing here may cost you quite bit. anybody who sees the gravatars of lee kun hee in the king’s robe knows exactly what i’m trying to say. you see, that’s the difference, i pay him a compliment by making him royal and you take a dump on him by placing him next to a man who watched 2 million of his own starve to death.

    thank you for permission to use your picture. it should show up shortly.

    ps i liked your book. if you write another, i’ll buy that one too.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    I hope pawi understands what just transpired.

    LOL.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I don’t want to get anyone in Korea in trouble… but when a company can control what humor is then that company has gotten too big… IMHO.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    no, it wasn’t well played. i’m middle aged, my friend. you’ll understand when you get there.

  • gbevers

    “Even though anyone who read or heard of this article knows that this is not true, they can mention this as a joke, which can be spread easily, so its damage is very serious,” the lawsuit read.

    So, what is the definition of “satire” in South Korea?

    By the way, I am getting tired of reading Brendon Carr’s explanations of Korean law just because they are extremely frustrating.

    “In South Korea, injury to one’s reputation is the key element, not the truth,” he said. “The fact that a statement is true is not an absolute defense. Satire is not a defense.

    The truth is not “an absolute defense”? I say we shoot the messenger and condemn him to Hell.

  • milton

    mbreen,

    Are any of the other boys and girls in the press club planning to write this up?

  • 3gyupsal

    No Mr. Breen, don’t apologize, stand up and let Korea hear what it means to have a free society.

    Pawikirogii, Samsung did indeed, “help Korea come out of poverty,” it is a rich and powerful company, but for some reason it is such a wimp that it can’t handle a few sentences written about it in jest. Yes it may have been a bit “disrespectful,” to compare Lee Kun Hee to Kim Jeong Ill, but Lee Kun Hee is a grown man who can take it. The guy should seriously consider growing some balls.

  • iwshim

    Mike – sorry ot hear of your troubles.

  • http://erikorea.blogspot.com ecorn

    @53, I guess Samsung has proven that it isn’t too big to FAIL.

  • hamel

    Of course we are going to keep buying Samsung – most of the stuff my wife and I own is Samsung-made! And I am happy with their quality, for the most part.

    What I am unhappy with is the power given to the founding family over shareholders, the awe in which the Lee family is held and the privileges accorded to them by the leaders of this society.

    Pawikirogii, most of us never threatened to stop buying Samsung. But we will certainly snigger at LKH each time we see him.

  • red sparrow

    Samsung needs to have its nose bloodied and realise how ridiculous it is.

    Moreover, Korea as a whole could do with a bit of humbling given its track record of pardoning convicted felons and allowing them to reassume CEO positions at the companies where the crimes were committed. It’s a disgrace.

    Michael Breen has no need to apologise.

  • gbevers

    I have a Korean friend who was friends with a guy who is now one of the top guys at Samsung. The last time my friend tried to call “his friend,” he was told by the man’s assistant not to call anymore because the man’s status was now too high to continue the friendship.

  • 8675309

    I don’t want to get anyone in Korea in trouble… but when a company can control what humor is then that company has gotten too big… IMHO.

    I would say that when a company, or a government, can “control” what humor is, it is living proof that that you are living in an Orwellian dystopia where the local population either never read or didn’t fully get “Nineteen Eighty Four” — especially the Korean-language version where key terms like Big Brother were translated in the local vernacular as 형 or 오빠. Other off-the-mark Orwellian-Korean translations from that book:
    “doublethink”- to think twice;
    “thoughtcrime” – to think about crime;
    “Newspeak” – broadcast journalism.

    No wonder they didn’t get it, which is why Korea is forever consigned to be a kind of 1984 .

  • hamel

    8675309: Eurythmics did a song about that, didn’t they?

  • feld_dog

    My guess on the Endgame of this whole affair: assuming Mr. Breen doesn’t back down (and I hope you don’t, sir!), the prosecutor/judge (which of course will be basically be bought-and-paid-for by Samsung) will render some sort of “guity” or “responsible” decision, but then will impose only a small fine, or even just a warning. Samsung may be thin-skinned, but they certainly aren’t small-brained. A big fine or jail time will splash front-pages all over the U.S., which would be a PR nightmare.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    By the way, I am getting tired of reading Brendon Carr’s explanations of Korean law just because they are extremely frustrating.

    gbevers — You are entitled to a full refund on what you’ve paid me for said tiresome explanations, and welcome to read the timely, lucid, and colorful English-language explanations of other informed commentators. What’s that? There aren’t any? Oh well.

  • cmm

    A big fine or jail time will splash front-pages all over the U.S., …

    I doubt it.

  • mbreen

    #48, 57,

    I have apologized – twice – for unintentionally offending people with what I thought was a harmless poke in a small newspaper at the world’s biggest conglomerate. But I did not crawl. I believe the paper was let off because I explained to prosecutors that the column was my idea and showed that the editors had changed nothing. I objected to the Samsung-written apology which ran in the paper (WangKon’s post #3).

    I have been advised by many well meaning people over the last few months to write whatever S wants to end this thing. (When I told one government official in his agency’s cafeteria, his voice dropped to a whisper, “Apologize quickly,” he said. “They control everything.”) This advice is well intended but it assumes my priority is to get this behind me. But it is not my first consideration. My priority is to keep my conscience clear on what I consider to be a professional and free-speech issue. God knows it’s murky enough with other stuff.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    I believe the paper was let off because I explained to prosecutors that the column was my idea and showed that the editors had changed nothing.

    Mike — Korea Times editors changed nothing? You tarnish your own brand by associating with such a terrible newspaper.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Well yes Brendon but I like to think of the KT as a double edged sword. You see, any news publication with such standards that they would give an idiot like Jon Huer a platform has got to give a guy like Michael Breen one too just to balance its shit out.

  • 8675309

    It’s as if Michael Breen is Winston Smith from 1984, and Samsung is Big Brother (of course), and the Thoughtpolice, a.k.a. Seoul Supreme Prosecutor’s office, is charging him with a thoughtcrime.

    (After the Thoughtpol tortured Smith for weeks, they finally hint that they might let him off if he just admits that “2 + 2 = 5″ as Samsung appears to be trying to do now with this whole business of “apologizing”.)

    Well I say, GO FUCK ‘EM in the head, Breen! Don’t compromise! You’re the only sane one out there. As Winston Smith said: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

    This whole thing is surreal — like life imitating art as only Korea can do.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Michael,

    I don’t know how you want to take these comments in the kblogsphere but I say you do what you think is right regardless of what others say. None of these other guys are the ones being slapped with a lawsuit or have legal fees or the risk of jail time or hefty settlements to worry about.

    Free press or complete freedom of thought, like what’s enjoyed in America or the more developed countries of Europe, is going to be a process in South Korea over a period of time. Don’t feel the need to be a symbol or hero. This can be considered one battle among many not a Waterloo or D-Day for anybody. Sometimes there is such a thing as living to fight another day.

    One lesson learned perhaps? Satire aimed towards Korean chaebol demigods may irk Korean Confucian sensibilities to a point to illicit an adverse response. Perhaps a more Confucian method may be in order. A more obtuse, but scholarly tactic. Say… within Confucianism even a chaebol demigod can’t do anything he wants to do if his actions harm the greater good. In other words, Lee Kun Hee can do what he does and act how he does because he’s produced results. But if part of those results is providing greater governance and stability in the long term industrial well being of Korea then Lee Kun Hee has in fact done a great disservice to the country. This is how a so-called Seonbi may choose to go against a King or leader or Chairman of an industrial conglomerate. It is much more difficult for the confucian masters to go against this kind of criticism thus this might be the best way to fight them. I would also argue that this manner of criticism is not only more socially acceptable in a confucian country like Korea but also more effective at the end of the day.

  • KimSuBok

    Spread the word. Never, ever buy Samsung again. Samsung is Korean. Samsung is corrupt. Samsung is a disgrace and a threat not only to Korea, but as the world’s largest technology company by revenue, to global civilization itself.

    Samsung’s arrogance must not be allowed to stand. Please join today in a total boycott of all Samsung products and subsidiaries. (Including CJ, Shinsegae, VIPS, etc.) Samsung and it’s evil despotic leadership must be made to pay a price.

    모든 삼성제품 불매합시다~!

  • milton

    Please join today in a total boycott of all Samsung products and subsidiaries. (Including CJ, Shinsegae, VIPS, etc.)

    CJ, along with VIPS and other subsidiaries haven’t been part of Samsung since 1990.

  • gbevers

    Brendon, you always seem to be expecting payment for your witty and often arrogant comments, but I wonder if anyone has ever benefitted by any of the “legal” advice you have given online. The only thing I have ever learned from you about Korea’s legal system is that it is about as predictable as a coin toss.

    Have you heard this one?

    A lawyer’s dog, running around town unleashed, heads for a butcher shop and steals a roast. The butcher goes to the lawyer’s office and asks, “if a dog running unleashed steals a piece of meat from my store, do I have a right to demand payment for the meat from the dog’s owner?” The lawyer answers, “Absolutely.”

    “Then you owe me $8.50. Your dog was loose and stole a roast from me today.”

    The lawyer, without a word, writes the butcher a check for $8.50. The butcher, having a feeling of satisfaction, leaves.

    Three days later, the butcher finds a bill from the lawyer: $100 due for a consultation.

  • 8675309

    Satire aimed towards Korean chaebol demigods may irk Korean Confucian sensibilities to a point to illicit an adverse response.

    Satire — especially in a foreign language — will not achieve its desired with a Korean-speaking audience b/c Koreans cannot differentiate — even in Korean — between light-hearted parody where “imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery,” vs. outright mockery and criticism. Also, in a land where maudlin variety shows full of slapstick humor are this country’s main source of entertainment, Korea is still an essentially ‘irony free zone’ where “Laurel & Hardy” or the “The Three Stooges” are considered comedians, but Dennis Miller and Bill Maher, are not.

    Recommendation: Mr. Breen — In order to avoid further clashes with the Korean authorities, yet continue your freedom of expression, you might wanna try what the ancients did way back when Korean-style social satire was performed — under more draconian social constraints — by using difficult-to-render allegorical morality tales in the classic 서편제 or 동편제 판소리 (pansori) style, usually performed by a 소리꾼 singer and a 판소리 고수 playing the tradition 소리북 drum.

  • KimSuBok

    #74

    CJ, VIPS, and Shinsegae are only independent on paper. When I went to VIPS with some Samsung employees in 2005 they explained that by showing a Samsung employee card they get a 40% automatic discount at VIPS. When I asked about the break up of subsidiaries, they laughed and told me that that was only done to appease the public, but in reality the companies are still fully linked together.

    P.S. These same employees told me that they were required to memorize the family tree of Lee Byeong Chul and all of his offspring as soon as they were hired by Samsung.

  • mbreen

    WangKon, sentiment appreciated.

    8675309 – I need to write up the dialogue at the prosecutor’s. It was like:
    - So, when you wrote that Huh Kyung-young had sent an inflatable rubber doll of himself to Park Geun-hye, you did not check the fact?”
    - Correct (I kept the answers brief because he was typing as he went and there were literally 3 minute gaps between questions)
    (Gap)
    - You wrote it knowing it might not be true?
    - Correct
    (Gap – the same questions asked of all 17 or so spoof Xmas gifts in the column)
    - Correct. It’s humor.
    - But it’s not funny if it is not true.
    - Is that a question?
    - Huh?

  • hitest

    Samsung will do more to sully its reputation through the pursuit of this law suit then Mr Breen has done with his satire.

  • 8675309

    - Correct. It’s humor.
    - But it’s not funny if it is not true.
    - Is that a question?
    - Huh?

    ROTFLMAO!!! Look on the bright side, at least you can get a book out of this — a book I DEFINITELY would buy. (Loved your first one, btw.)

  • milton

    If the Korean government is going to stifle anyone’s free speech, at least let it be the Kim Jong-Il ass-kissing, anti-American, leftist punks who deliberately spread lies and misinformation to school children. Oh wait— maybe the jails aren’t big enough as that label applies to all the members of the DP, the DLP, the KCTU, the FKTU, the Hankyoreh, Kyunghyung Shinmun, Minjong-ui Sori, Media Today, and everyone in Honam.

    Ok, don’t arrest ’em. Maybe just deport ‘em so they are free to run into the loving arms of their Motherly Leader.

  • iwshim

    gbevers May 11, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    “I wonder if anyone has ever benefitted by any of the “legal” advice you have given online.’

    I have benefited from Brendon’s advice. To be specific I think it is fair to summarize his views as – avoid lawyers all together – their expensive.

    I find Brendon’s commentary witty and lucid.

    In addition Brendon’s political viewpoints tend to be quite realistic, which is something that cannot be said for all posters on this website.

  • Minjokjuuija

    I wonder if Samsung’s ownership and leadership are as incestuous as the American overclass.

  • cmm

    In addition Brendon’s political viewpoints tend to be quite realistic, which is something that cannot be said for all posters on this website.

    Did you stop observing his political viewpoints one week before Palin was picked as McCain’s running mate?

    Aside from his political opinions, I think he’s a pretty swell guy.

  • mbreen

    I’ve benefited from Brendon’s advice too. He’s also a colorful character too so he makes it all interesting.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    so you turned off my gravatar while you talk about free speech. nice. i don’t suppose any of you will rush to my defense, eh?

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    ROTFLMAO!

    Paranoid much?

  • RayC

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    Mr. Breen, best of luck to you in this crazy situation.

    Would it be too much if you showed up to court in a wheelchair and IV?

  • B_Wagner

    The Korea Times has always pushed the envelope when it comes to their uncompromising quest for the truth, but maybe it is time to pull back on the throttle a little. When, for example, Dr Childs found extraterrestrial remains in the Rwandan hinterland few papers had the nerve to break the conspiracy of silence and announce to the world the discovery of an “Alien Graveyard”. The Korea Times did. And sure we may admire them for their pluck, but what are the costs? We still have no idea how those aliens might react. Perhaps a Samsung style apology is in order. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/12/113_57334.html

    (Satire off)

  • Granfalloon

    I’ve never been able to understand the hate-on that so many at the Hole have for counselor Carr. Politics aside, I have found him to be one of the more consistently astute and insightful commentors, and his remarks in the LA Times confirm this. I was sorry to see his website go. He’s written more than a few of my favorite comments.

    In fact, if I ever met him, I’d offer to buy him a beer. Of course, he would never accept it, no doubt out of apprehension that any beverage offered by an English teacher would be poisoned. But I’d offer anyway.

    As long as I’m typing, HANG IN THERE MR. BREEN! YOU DA MAN!

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    sorry, marm.

  • http://blog.oranckay.net oranckay

    Such a teachable moment in so many ways.

    In the meantime, best wishes, Mr. Breen.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    Granfalloon (#88), you’re right that Brendon wouldn’t accept a beer — as I discovered one week ago when I offered him one — but he’ll take a cola. He just doesn’t like beer . . . which partly explains why he has more brain cells that I do.

    The other part of the neuronal explanation has something to do with genetics, but its too complicated for me to figure out . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    Um . . . “but it’s too complicated . . . .”

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • hamel

    I know how to get Mr. Carr out for a drink; it starts with a book…

    But wow, looky here, this thread drew Oranckay out of the woodwork! How’s it going, man?

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Carr doesn’t like beer??? I can’t believe I respected the man…

  • gbnhj

    Hey, Ben, don’t forget – it was the KT which also brought us ‘Big Boobs Man’, thus helping to keep a nation informed about Chinese man boobs. In this respect, they’re top notch – I’ve not found any other Korean-based English-language media source providing coverage about Chinese men with developing mammary glands, so kudos to them.

  • yuna

    - You wrote it knowing it might not be true?
    - Correct
    (Gap – the same questions asked of all 17 or so spoof Xmas gifts in the column)
    - Correct. It’s humor.
    - But it’s not funny if it is not true.

    It should be “it’s not funny if it is true”.

    The reason this sort of satire doesn’t work in Korea is that the element of subtlety has to be discarded. It’s simply too close to truth for comfort. You cannot toe the line which is too fine between the truth and the ridiculous because that line converges. For example the gift cards with 50,000 dollars, it’s what your everyday Korean might perceive to be close to the truth anyway.
    Once it’s close to the truth, then people are left with questions such as “Is he saying it was 50,000 dollars when it was actually 40,000 dollars?”
    For the everyday Korean, they are torn between being critical about Samsung and wishing death of the company at the peril of much pain.

    On the one hand, they probably know that Chaebols have too much power now, but they have come from things being corrupt and controlled from the previous era, so they think it’s NOT AS BAD as before, weighing that against the danger of much of the South Korean wealth resting on such few companies, they will grumble in comments section, but choose not to take it public. This is because there is no way of gently rocking the boat(satire) without the boat capsizing.

    Also this addresses the issue of what everyone here always complains about – the Korean press. I hope this will help cut the Korean reporters some slack. If Samsung is going after English language non-Korean writer for such an obscure business, it clearly shows the pressure on the locals what to write about in newspapers, what to report on TV, what to make dramas about in Korean media. This is what’s driving people onto the street. MBC is permanently on strike.

    The absolute suppression of what goes on the news, dramas and comedy shows have been strictly controlled from the dictators era in South Korea. There was a little ray of hope during the left wing government, though people might say it swung far too left, but I still preferred that. There was a lot of criticism of the government then in the mainstream media. Now, it’s back to the silent times. Going the way of companies and government in bed together, like Italy.

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    To be frank, Mike’s case is chilling in the extreme…

    …Does this mean that future commentary on Samsung here at the ‘Hole will be watered down then Robert? I certainly hope not…

    Mr Breen: please don’t bend. My guess is that when this story finds traction in some other major news outlets (which I think it will), Samsung’s petty lordlings will see the wisdom in letting this one slide away quietly.

    It does make you wonder how many Koreans have been ground underfoot by these bullies over the years, however. One of the key defenses of journalists in the west is Truth, as B.Carr pointed out. So is fair comment on a matter of public interest. Without such defenses, it’s almost impossible to run a free and healthy press, and to hold the government and private sector to account. Hearing that Samsung wrote the Korea Times apology is sickening.

    My suggestion, since there seems to be no Korean media outlet willing — or able — to take them on, is to set up a website with a stateside server, where people can anonymously make fair comment, in the public interest as it were. This would be particularly effective if it was at least partially written in Korean.

    Any takers?

  • milton

    Well said, Yuna.

  • yuna

    I’ve never been able to understand the hate-on that so many at the Hole have for counselor Carr.

    This is pure jealousy, because he is so 핸섬, and earns so much money.

    That, and the fact he openly brandishes his contempt for the English teachers in Korea which make up a lot (or used to) of the readers.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    I wonder if Samsung’s ownership and leadership are as incestuous as the American overclass.

    Why hold back, Minjoker? Why not just link to that copy of the revised American edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion you believe in?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    …Does this mean that future commentary on Samsung here at the ‘Hole will be watered down then Robert? I certainly hope not…

    To be blunt, Samsung scares me. You have one of the largest companies in the world suing a guy for a million dollars for making a joke in the Korea Times. Draw your conclusions accordingly.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    Ok i’ll try to write an adult comment about all this and not my usual poison soaked piece of non-sense.

    Well ok jail time is ridicolous, a billion won fine is ridicolous, sure…now you go to say Germany and print anything comparing say Herr Thyssen to Adolf and see how well that goes down with the local sensitivites.

    I would also suggest to try as a foreign correspondant to write a piece comparing Obama to an African warlord.

  • Minjokjuuija

    The blog I linked to, Mondoweiss, is by a Jewish journalist. I never said or suggested that I believe in the Protocols. So why do you lie? Are you incapable of making a comment to or about me without lying?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    I see that Samsung’s inability to deal with satire extends to members of the hive living abroad.

  • Cymrodor

    MBreen was bang out of line suggesting any similarity between Samsung and the North Korean regime. Doesn’t the latter send people to prison camps for criticising or making fun of it?

  • yuna

    I would also suggest to try as a foreign correspondant to write a piece comparing Obama to an African warlord

    That sounded too much like a google invitation, so I did
    Anyway, although the term Warlord didn’t come originally from them(I cannot get into the link to the paid website), the comparison originated from that other provider of quality satire material, known as The American Conservatives.

  • Minjokjuuija

    Clever move. You’re a sneaky one. You would have played the “anti-Semite” card had I responded differently. And that’s fine that you dehumanize us and compare and deride us as insects. That’s a common trope among your kind. Please continue doing so. Koreans need to see and be aware of our enemies, so we can defend against our enemies.

  • yuna

    Koreans need to see

    Don’t encourage it. We have already seen more than we should have seen, because Sonagi asked to see once.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    lol Yuna is it the infamous Mizar Helmut Newtonesque work you’re referring too ?

  • yuna

    LOL Gangpeh. You sure picked up a lot of culture since your street dog days.

    Though I have no doubt that you’re Italian (unlike some others) you come out with flashes of much insight and brilliance, rarely seen in a heterosexual male.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Careful gangpeh…Sperwer’s “libel” to sue you for defamation.

    Hahahahaa….get it? “Libel”?

    Sigh.

  • Briplox

    This whole affair demonstrates for the world just how backward Korea is as a society. It has been able to, through a combination of industrial espionage and hard work, largely catch up with the developed world technologically. But Korea is hopelessly backward socially. The fact that a person can be charged with defamation even while telling the truth is scandalous.

    The more I learn about South Korea, the more ashamed I am that my country helps to defend such a repressive state.

    From now on, I will not only avoid purchases of Samsung products, but will also strongly encourage those I know to boycott Samsung. An evil organization like this must be taught that such behavior is unacceptable in modern society.

  • Seth Gecko

    For example the gift cards with 50,000 dollars, it’s what your everyday Korean might perceive to be close to the truth anyway.
    Once it’s close to the truth, then people are left with questions such as “Is he saying it was 50,000 dollars when it was actually 40,000 dollars?”

    Yuna, I don’t understand the above example.

  • abcdefg

    “Don’t encourage it. We have already seen more than we should have seen, because Sonagi asked to see once.”

    You got that right.

    Sperwer turned out to be a stringy-muscled old man and about 20-50 lbs lighter than I imagined. Not the physical menace he portrays himself to be. The dissonance must have something to with the ol’ “charisma man” effect that I keep reading about.

    But now, I can’t not whince everytime I come across a haughty Spewrer post. :(

    “lol Yuna is it the infamous Mizar Helmut Newtonesque work you’re referring too ?”

    Oh lord..I have had those images pretty much scratched out of my brain. What is up with nudez and narcisism from ugly expats in Korea? It’s beginning to make me want to scratch my eyeballs out. Disgusting on many levels.

  • Granfalloon

    abcdefg,
    Don’t be shitty. My money says that old man can bench press more than you.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    That, and the fact he openly brandishes his contempt for the English teachers in Korea which make up a lot (or used to) of the readers.

    yuna — This bears repeating: I only have contempt for the English teachers who get themselves into predictable jams over nonsense, and then willfully or ignorantly misunderstand basic economics of supply and demand. Until English-speaking lawyers are starving in the streets of Korea (I have some former partners who may be close, though), English teachers cannot afford a lawyer — at least not me and my colleagues — to help them sue over fifty, a hundred, two thousand bucks, or ten thousand bucks for that matter. Sorry.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Thanks Granfalloon. Bench is now 300, but I actually regard squats (450) and deads (400 – two dodgy discs @L4-L5) as more of a challenge.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    LOl Yuna thanks, it must be cos some of my acquaintances are gay dudes, one of ‘em is a Brazilian student at the Accademia di Brera and the biggest k-horror freak you can possibly find in this world, sometimes globalisation is indeed cool.

    Also i learned the difference between street scum and a real bandit is culture. I have a deep love for culture, much less for the priests of education, the likes of teachers, writers, journalists, pro intellectuals etc.

    Actually my lack of sympathy for Mr. Breen (admittedly not a big damage to his case) stems from the fact he looks like some of the teach who flunked me mercilessly since i was 12.

    Well now most of this people are still dealing with Ecuadorian teens with sharpened screwdrivers in their pocket, or with arrogant ajoshi in some third rate hagwon for that matter, for a monthly paycheck equaling the money i generally make in one day spent working 1 solid hour.

    If this sounds pathetic, well i’m not the only one dumping his frustrations in here :)

    What is up with nudez and narcisism from ugly expats in Korea?

    I think it is what in entry-level microeconomics is referred to as adverse selection, an issue Korea, now being a fully-deserving G-20 and OECD member, still needs to tackle

    It’s beginning to make me want to scratch my eyeballs out. Disgusting on many levels

    To make you feel better and improve the image of expats in Korea, when i move there i can upload a video of myself dancing tecktonik to some Afterschool remix

  • PineForest

    @ 17, Pawi,

    FYI, I have boycotted Samsung since 1997. I live in America and if I ever have a conversation about Korea (which I very often do) I bring up Samsung’s crimes and encourage others to do the same. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to do my small part to damage this firm. They are more like a KJI’s mafia than many of you know, trust me. I’ve done business with them. Thugs , with no morals or honor, in suits. I repeat: NO honor.

  • Granfalloon

    Sperwer,
    I would have been disappointed if you felt otherwise.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Ah, you know. ;)

  • gangpehmoderniste

    Thugs , with no morals or honor, in suits. I repeat: NO honor

    I was wondering if it made sense to buy a 3D LED right now, this just convinced me to hit Media World in the next 2 hours

  • yuna

    My non-Korean friends abroad fall into two age categories. The older ones who think SONY is still da shit (and also from backwater NZ where Korean companies didn’t bother to go) and would turn their nose up at anything not SONY, and the younger ones who think Samsung and LG are cooler brands, (admittedly most of them don’t know they are Korean).

    Samsung power has become too powerful recently within South Korea for comfort of the Korean people but that is not the same as the company have a specific stand-out ethics problem like cutting corners or not investing in green-thinking, or using child labours, therefore it would not drive me as far to boycott their products personally yet. I would have to cut out eating chocolates before I stopped from buying a Samsung TV.

  • 8675309

    The absolute suppression of what goes on the news, dramas and comedy shows have been strictly controlled from the dictators era in South Korea.

    Yuna, your view of Korean history is myopic at best. The suppression of the Korean masses by the ruling class actually goes back slightly further than the Park Chung-hee era.

    How about going back to pre-chosun times when the 양반 and their lackies, the 중인, maintained an oligarchical stranglehold over the entire Korean population and all its resources, including the military and the royal family?

    Even though that system effectively came in 1905, Korean history is still crippled by the fact that generations of generations of Koreans — to the present — laid passively on their backs while letting the 양반 run roughshod over them, completely unchallenged, century after century after century. (Other cultures, especially in the West and Japan, successfully engaged in centuries of class warfare, revolutions and peasant uprisings to overcome such social inequities and injustices. Korea, to its shame, never did.)

    As a result, this unresolved part of Korea’s history has continued into the modern era with a successful reincarnation of the Yangban in the form of several inordinately powerful Korean mandarinates such as the Prosecutor’s office, which in industrialized countries would usually be run at the local or county level, and the Chaebol, who arguably are a resurrection of the Chungin.

    <blockquote<The reason this sort of satire doesn’t work in Korea is that the element of subtlety has to be discarded. It’s simply too close to truth for comfort. You cannot toe the line which is too fine between the truth and the ridiculous because that line converges.
    Yuna, as a multi-cultural, multi-lingual daughter of Korean diplomat with an international education and overseas upbringing that is typical of less than .000000001 percent of the general Korean, let alone the world’s population, you have the unique advantage of being able to frame every cross-cultural issue from a bicultural and bilingual point of view. The majority of us, however, even though many are bilingual, do not have this unique ability to switch back and forth between cultures and tongues so effortlessly.

    The problem is that if Breen got rid of his English subtlety to appease the Korean masses, and started being censored according to what Koreans would think is funny or not, he wouldn’t be Michael Breen anymore — and he certainly wouldn’t be amusing or interesting to English speakers.

    That said, I think its sufficient to say that if humor doesn’t translate well across cultures, you can darn be sure that satire — humor’s uncouth uncle — certainly will not either.

    On the other hand, Koreans are notoriously poor at comprehending irony to the point where they wouldn’t be able to detect it if it ran over them, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that satire — especially in English — usually goes straight over their head.

    However, if Michael Breen performed a satirical song insulting the powers at be by using traditional 판소리 as I recommended earlier, do you think Koreans would find this form of humor funny? I think they’d go apeshit over it!

  • 8675309

    The absolute suppression of what goes on the news, dramas and comedy shows have been strictly controlled from the dictators era in South Korea.

    Yuna, your view of Korean history is myopic at best. The suppression of the Korean masses by the ruling class actually goes back slightly further than the Park Chung-hee era.

    How about going back to pre-chosun times when the 양반 and their lackies, the 중인, maintained an oligarchical stranglehold over the entire Korean population and all its resources, including the military and the royal family?

    Even though that system effectively came to an end in 1905, Korean history is still crippled by the fact that generations of generations of Koreans — to the present — laid passively on their backs while letting the 양반 run roughshod over them, completely unchallenged, century after century after century while other cultures, especially in the West and Japan, successfully engaged in centuries of class warfare, revolutions and peasant uprisings to overcome such social inequities and injustices. Korea, to its shame, never did.

    As a result, this unresolved part of Korea’s history has continued into the modern era with a successful reincarnation of the Yangban in the form of several inordinately powerful Korean mandarinates such as the Prosecutor’s office, which in industrialized countries would usually be run at the local or county level, and the Chaebol, who arguably are a resurrection of the Chungin.

    The reason this sort of satire doesn’t work in Korea is that the element of subtlety has to be discarded. It’s simply too close to truth for comfort. You cannot toe the line which is too fine between the truth and the ridiculous because that line converges.

    Yuna, as a multi-cultural, multi-lingual daughter of Korean diplomat with an international education and overseas upbringing that is typical of less than .000000001 percent of the general Korean, let alone the world’s population, you have the unique advantage of being able to frame every cross-cultural issue from a bicultural and bilingual point of view. The majority of us, however, even though many are bilingual, do not have this unique ability to switch back and forth between cultures and tongues so effortlessly.

    The problem is that if Breen got rid of his English subtlety to appease the Korean masses, and started being censored according to what Koreans would think is funny or not, he wouldn’t be Michael Breen anymore — and he certainly wouldn’t be amusing or interesting to English speakers.

    That said, I think its sufficient to say that if humor doesn’t translate well across cultures, you can darn be sure that satire — humor’s uncouth uncle — certainly will not either.

    On the other hand, Koreans are notoriously poor at comprehending irony to the point where they wouldn’t be able to detect it if it ran over them, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that satire — especially in English — usually goes straight over their head.

    However, if Michael Breen performed a satirical song insulting the powers at be by using traditional 판소리 as I recommended earlier, do you think Koreans would find this form of humor funny? I think they’d go apeshit over it!

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    you are mistaken if you think my gravatar is an insult to chairman lee. only the righteous can wear the king’s robe, my friend.

    A twice convicted and jailed felon is righteous?

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Korea Times editors changed nothing? You tarnish your own brand by associating with such a terrible newspaper.

    Judging by the recent spate of Konglish-y articles they’ve published, not only do they not change anything, I firmly believe they have fired all of the native English speaking copy editors.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    A twice convicted and jailed felon is righteous?

    It’s just adult education

  • http://www.efl-law.com Gollum

    I just purchased a new Daewoo air-conditioner. I was going to purchase a Samsung, but I didn’t, because of this. In my own way, I have protested.

  • lmno

    Is there nothing about this in the Korean media? Not even anything criticizing Breen for not respecting Korean culture?

  • PineForest

    Gangpeh, trollish tho you may be, you won’t get a rise out of me. Just remember that your choices have consequences. Blind nationalism won’t serve you well in the end.

  • 8675309

    Not even anything criticizing Breen for not respecting Korean culture?

    That’s not it. There is nothing more perplexing to a native Korean speaker than English-language satire, or satire in general. (Just ask “thekorean”, who is famous for his scholarly references to articles from The Onion™ as evidence supporting his theories about the incorrigible behavior of Americans.)

    And because the Korean government — to its own detriment — practically eliminated 한자 (Hanja) education over the past several decades to the point where today’s high school graduates know only a fraction of the Chinese characters that their parents learned in the 70′s, young Koreans these days, who were educated exclusively in Korea, don’t easily grasp the concept of dual meanings, underlying meanings or anything ironic for that matter. (The older generation of Koreans, however, is remarkably more nimble in thought.)

    I guarantee ya’, it’s going to take the Korean press — as well as the public — a while to figure this one out. (They’re still scratching their heads on this one as we speak, b/c Breen literally threw them for a loop.) Outstanding job Breen! You are a master!

  • lmno

    There is nothing more perplexing to a native Korean speaker than English-language satire, or satire in general.

    Yeah, yeah – irony, sarcasm, satire lost on Koreans, etc. That’s old hat (and not entirely accurate I might add). But my point was the conspicuous silence in the K-media. Obviously no one is going to come to Breen’s defense (except the brave souls interviewed in the LAT article, and I hope their families are safe tonight) but there aren’t even any articles defending Korea Inc. (Samsung) from unprovoked foreign attack by the Western media, etc. And we just had a powerful example of that recently: http://www.rjkoehler.com/2010/03/09/oh-those-lazy-ignorant-racist-foreign-correspondents/

    Maybe this week we’ll start to see some stories popping up…

  • 8675309

    I hope their families are safe tonight) but there aren’t even any articles defending Korea Inc. (Samsung) from unprovoked foreign attack by the Western media, etc. And we just had a powerful example of that recently:

    Comparing Breen’s humorous dig to Evan Ramstad’s obscenity laced outburst at MOSAF is a bit rich, and I think you are being quite paranoid by suggesting that their families might be endangered, as anyone who has lived in Korea extensively knows that the Korean bark is always worse than its bite.

    Also, all large organizations and bureaucracies — even in the U.S. — are invariably thin-skinned and come with a built in, knee-jerk tendency to be vindictive. To that end, Korea Inc., like all conglomerates, is concerned about its brand image and logo first and foremost, and for lack of anything better to do, is behaving in a typically yet absurdly hyper diligent manner by foisting their own insecurities onto people that they’ve deemed they cannot control.

    That’s old hat (and not entirely accurate I might add). But my point was the conspicuous silence in the K-media.

    Like I said, there is no “conspicuous silence”, — you’re being paranoid again, perhaps due to your unfamiliarity with Korea and Koreans. Anyways, I’m tellin’ ya, these meatheads are still trying to figure it out. They don’t get it, and only after conferring with a dozen or so SNU-trained lawyers, English Ph.D’s, and translation experts, will they be able to comprehend this work of art on a literal level.

    (Btw, do you speak a foreign language? If so, how long did it take for you to transition from a purely literal comprehension of that language to a more figurative and nuanced comprehension? For many second-language speakers — like Koreans who learned English — this transition never takes place, with the exception of those who acquired fluency at a very early age or grew up under exceptional circumstances, e.g., a bilingual household that used both languages frequently.)

  • hamel

    Update: Company S did not drop their suit today (Tuesday) so Mr. Breen will be in court tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

    I hope to goodness he has his wheelchair and IV drip ready for a modicum of sympathy from the assembled media (surely som junior reporter from the Ktimes will be there to cover the case?)

  • SeoulFinn

    Mr Breen’s predicament is getting more publicity as we speak. One of my favorite gadget sites, gizmodo.com, posted a short article about it.

    Good luck, Mr Breen. I have always liked your opinion pieces!

  • hardyandtiny

    what a drag

  • DLBarch

    Well, I guess this is a start. Looks as though at least Gizmodo (recently of Apple iPhone fame) has picked up the Samsung-as-third-world-pariah story.

    Best line: “This bald attack on the basic freedoms of speech and of the press could do untold PR damage worldwide. At least, one hopes it does.”

    Yeah, one hopes it does. (C’mon, SFCC, what are you guys waiting for?)

    DLB

  • DLBarch

    Damn, SeoulFinn, you are quick.

    DLB

  • DLBarch

    BTW, not to the jackass lawyer here, but I only just got around to actually reading Article 309(1) of Korea’s Criminal Act regarding defamation, and a plain reading of the text clearly requires a showing of an intent to defame.

    Unless Breen’s article is deemed per se defamation, showing actual intent where none apparently existed would not seem to be a slam-dunk for Samsung’s bitch lawyers, er, the Prosecutors’ Office’s thugs.

    Or am I missing something?

    DLB

  • YBT199

    I’m sure some of the technology/IT sites would love to hear about this. If it doesn’t hurt the journalist in question, why not contact The Register or Slashdot about Samsung’s heavy-handed tactics?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/

    http://slashdot.org/

    But only if doing so wouldn’t put Breen into deeper trouble.

  • DLBarch

    Well, I see the Baltimore Sun has now picked up the story. Could this thing be slowly moving from the West Coast to the East?

    And if so, can the NYTimes and the WaPo be far behind?

    DLB

  • JW

    If Samsung ends up winning the civil case against Breen, they can probably include negative media fallout resulting from the case *itself* as part of the damage calculations. For example, if they win, they will probably include articles such as the one in LATimes referred above as being part of the negative portrayal of Samsung that has hurt them financially.

    Am I right? It would seem the logical thing to do if you’re the winning party.

  • DLBarch

    The next question I want to know is whether Samsung’s bitch in-house lawyers are litigating this case on their own, or whether some bitch Seoul law firm has decided to quarterback this travesty.

    And if so, which one? (If it’s my own old firm, Schmuck & Putz, well, that would be just too, too perfect.)

    DLB

  • yuna

    Yuna, your view of Korean history is myopic at best. The suppression of the Korean masses by the ruling class actually goes back slightly further than the Park Chung-hee era.

    I meant in modern Korea. I didn’t go as far back as the colonial times, or any of the dynasties, or the prehistoric times, where I’m sure the man with the largest club beat had the last laugh after beating all the satire out of his fellow cavemen.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    And is there a legal defense fund? I’ll sure as hell contribute.

    Hello i was wondering if and how i can wire my whole net worth to the trust fund of the Gladiators of the Praetorium, alternatively the association for the preservation of the blue-striped Gambian ant would be ok.

    Dudes, sometimes this place is a troll paradise

  • yuna

    For pure satirical gold, one only has to read all the 댓글 (comments) after most Korean articles. They are quite something.

    I think Mr.Breen’s done an ambitious and laudable thing, in his attempt to up the level of the Korea Times to an actual newspaper, rather than a paper of three day old, neutrally filtered news for English students. Hopefully the mainstream Korean media will also pick up on the suing soon.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘Hello i was wondering if and how i can wire my whole net worth to the trust fund of the Gladiators of the Praetorium, alternatively the association for the preservation of the blue-striped Gambian ant would be ok.’

    some funny shit, gangpe. i’m glad you can see what i can see; a bunch of self righteous arrogants who actually believe their ideas of grandeur. i just love all the threats of what the world is going to do to korea on their behalf.

  • slim

    Whatever, Stretch. You do not grasp the issue at hand.

    That said, is anyone with any exposure to or experience with chaebol SURPRISED by any of this? Did anyone ever really believe that the chaebol culture was reformable?

  • NetizenKim

    Not the first time a Waeguk got himself in a hot, steaming pile of the soft brown stuff for having a Big, Opinionated, and Uppity Western Mouth(TM). Won’t be the last, I’m afraid.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    i just noticed that i got some 71 negative votes on my posts. i must have really pissed off the arnold horshak brigade. truth hurts.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Dudes, sometimes this place is a troll paradise

    So… are you in heaven or hell?.. ;)

  • Minjokjuuija

    The irony here is all this gnashing of teeth by expats about an electronics commodities producing national oligarchy with little to no social, cultural, or political influence outside of its national boundaries, while their own countries are being gutted and hollowed out by globalist financial oligarchs as we speak.

  • JW

    Wall Street sucks alot more than Samsung. I agree.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Not the first time a Waeguk got himself in a hot, steaming pile of the soft brown stuff for having a Big, Opinionated, and Uppity Western Mouth(TM). Won’t be the last, I’m afraid.

    Judging from this comment, it appears NK’s fickle Korean belle has decided to keep the leash attached to the collar for just a little longer.

  • 8675309

    Wall Street sucks alot more than Samsung. I agree.

    At least Wall Street has enough intelligence and a big enough sense of humor to not sue The Onion™, for example, over its “blatantly misleading” reporting that uses a “mocking tone” to add “baseless, malicious and offensive false information to criticize” them. And have you ever wondered why Koreans could never produce even something close to The Onion™?

    The irony here is all this gnashing of teeth by expats about an electronics commodities producing national oligarchy with little to no social, cultural, or political influence outside of its national boundaries, while their own countries are being gutted and hollowed out by globalist financial oligarchs as we speak.

    I think its bad form and terribly unchristian for the chairman of Samsung, on the same day he is pardoned for the multitude of sins he was accused of by the government, to turn around and demand his pound of flesh from Breen basically over nothing.

    I mean wasn’t there a parable in Mattthew in the Bible warning against this kind of behavior, where a vineyard owner who had his debts magnanimously wiped away for that year, turned around and had one of his underlings arrested and throw into debtor’s prison for a measly debt?

    I believe he’s the one who’s gnashing his teeth now.

  • JW

    And have you ever wondered why Koreans could never produce even something close to The Onion™?

    I don’t have to wonder any more, no. However, I did wonder, at one time, why shows like Gag Concert didn’t have any political parody in them. Now I don’t have to wonder why.

  • JW

    Terribly unchristian what? Lee Kun Hee is a serious Christian? I want proof. Beyond all shadow of doubt.

  • DLBarch

    Breen’s best line, by far, is when he writes “Lee Kunhee (the “t” is silent).”

    That is some wicked brilliance, man. I will definitely plagiarize that every chance I get.

    DLB

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    NK,

    The only problem is that the waeguk in question isn’t one of those “Big, Opinionated, and Uppity Western Mouths.”

    IMHO Breen’s attempts at satire just kind of get lost. Personally, I think his regular prose is a lot better. When it comes to examining Korean society as it is composed of individual people, I find Breen generally takes a rather sympathetic view.

  • dww

    @NetKim 152,

    How was Breen’s behavior or article “uppity”? He made a satirical piece about a convicted felon. Not exactly pompous, if you ask me.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘That is some wicked brilliance, man. ‘

    not really. let’s hope ss hq remains in the dark about the meaning of his high school jib-jab.

  • KrZ

    The more coverage this gets in export markets the more fear there will be concerning backlash against Samsung for pursuing this. I can’t see them proceeding with the case if it starts appearing in the likes of the NYT.

  • dww

    @165, I agree. The post on Gizmodo is a pretty significant thing in itself since the sight is one of the most widely read blogs in the States.

  • DLBarch

    Aw, c’mon, Pawi, ya gotta admit it was clever.

    DLB

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘The more coverage this gets in export markets the more fear there will be concerning backlash against Samsung for pursuing this. I can’t see them proceeding with the case if it starts appearing in the likes of the NYT’

    like i said, ideas of grandeur. there will be no backlash. how’s your i-phone?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    @ 165 and 166,

    I disagree. Microsoft, and more recently Apple, act like unruly corporate hegemons all the time and does that affect their sales? Not really. People just don’t care in the long run.

    I don’t mean to be negative or pessimistic, I’m being realistic if anything else.

  • dww

    @169. Good point, and I agree that it likely wouldn’t affect sales at all, but KrZ’s point was that the case against Breen might not proceed if it got more international press. I have no real idea if this will happen, but it seems like a possibility.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Yes, I would wish for that to happen. Make it such a PR hassle that Samsung says “fuck it” let’s move on folks.

  • DLBarch

    Looks like the Sacramento Bee and the Taiwan News have now also picked up the story.

    Say the word, Breen, and I’d gladly turn all this into a law review article with you.

    DLB

  • lmno

    Comparing Breen’s humorous dig to Evan Ramstad’s obscenity laced outburst at MOSAF is a bit rich, and I think you are being quite paranoid by suggesting that their families might be endangered . . .

    Yes, it is rich, but that’s just what Samsung has done isn’t? Recall that Samsung has officially claimed that Breen’s comments were “malicious and offensive” and the action itself is in “defamation” – which is kissing cousins with “insult”. But more to the point, my comparison wasn’t about the actions of the foreigners, but the perceptions on the part of Koreans and their reactions (particularly the lack thereof). If Breen’s comments were truly so “malicious and offensive” then where’s the crowd of Koreans taking offense? The silence is conspicuous and it belies Samsung’s complaint that any real “damage” has been done (except to its overly sensitive ego).

    As for my comment “I hope their families are safe tonight” – now look who’s having trouble grasping sarcasm and irony? Not to tease, but the references to “families” (and not the individuals themselves, who knows if they even have families!) and “tonight” (of all nights, why should it be so special?) are giveaways of a stilted and mock concern offered purely for comic effect. (That and it was delivered by a cookie monster ^^).

    But don’t get me wrong, I thought some of your comments were spot on:

    The problem is that if Breen got rid of his English subtlety to appease the Korean masses, and started being censored according to what Koreans would think is funny or not, he wouldn’t be Michael Breen anymore — and he certainly wouldn’t be amusing or interesting to English speakers.

    While I disagreed with others:

    Koreans are notoriously poor at comprehending irony to the point where they wouldn’t be able to detect it if it ran over them, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that satire — especially in English — usually goes straight over their head.

    Take Breen’s bit about the hanging of father and son portraits of the Chairman and CEO – you really think Koreans don’t get it? If so you are either slipping on the glaze of your own analysis or else being patronizing in the extreme. Koreans get it all right, and a lot of them think it’s knee-slapping hilarious. (Just ask them.) The point is that some of them (i.e. the Samsung stuffed shirts) don’t think it’s funny. And that’s the thing about a sense of humor, it’s not always that people “don’t get it,” it’s just that they don’t find it amusing. And while there’s certainly a cultural element involved, it’s often more a question of taste than of cognitive development. That’s why I think you miss the point by suggesting:

    They don’t get it, and only after conferring with a dozen or so SNU-trained lawyers, English Ph.D’s, and translation experts, will they be able to comprehend this work of art on a literal level.

    Samsung comes off looking bad because they are pompous spoilsports who lack the magnanimity and self-deprecating good nature to appreciate a little ribbing – not because they are “meatheads are still trying to figure it out.”

    But that’s just my take . . .

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    I only just got around to actually reading Article 309(1) of Korea’s Criminal Act regarding defamation, and a plain reading of the text clearly requires a showing of an intent to defame.

    I’ve wondered about that too. The schmucks and putzes I work with tell me that’s almost dormant language — i.e., intent to defame is presumed, as if the “intent” really means intentional publication rather than malice as we Amurrican lawyers would understand it. Your mileage may vary.

    There is some sort of public-interest, need-to-know exception which protects journalists who divulge facts in the public interest. But Korea is so humor-impaired that I cannot imagine humorists receive the protection of such an exception. Anyway, we shall see.

    The current proceeding against Mike Breen is civil rather than criminal. There may be no criminal charges at all. But Korea Inc. has a fairly long history of enlisting the state to squelch what the rest of us consider to be fair comment — here’s an old favorite about a Korean newspaper, for crying out loud, having a Korean-American reporter jailed for adverse reporting.

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    Seems to be a lot of people charging that Koreans don’t get satire, or appreciate the subtle nuances of irony etc, and that this is why the reaction of Samsung has been so heavy-handed.

    I think the exact opposite is true.

    From my experience, Koreans have a very good understanding of satire – one previous commentator mentioned 판소리 – and by historical necessity have sophisticated and subtle ways of lampooning their leaders – or leading business owners, as is the case these days.

    The problem in this case, is that Mr. Breen — like many American (western?) satirists, wasn’t subtle at all and this lack of deftness was compounded — as it always is — when run through the translation mill.

    Add to that the unchallenged power and arrogance of Samsung’s elite, and you have the resultant problem.

    Another point I’d make is that – per NK and pawi’s comments – I doubt Mr. Breen will get sympathy from many Koreans. Samsung might be a corrupt bully, but it’s Korea’s corrupt bully. I don’t think the David and Goliath act will be so popular when the hero happens to be an outsider.

  • KrZ

    Does anyone have a link to a copy of the original article that this is all about?

  • red sparrow

    “Samsung might be a corrupt bully, but it’s Korea’s corrupt bully.”

    If Samsung wants to be a global giant and Koreans want to beam with pride about the company’s achievements, then be prepared to take criticism from abroad.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    @KrZ

    Click on the “It’s safe to blog now” link in Robert’s post.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Ah, you’re talking about Breen’s article. Sorry.

  • hamel

    lmno:

    Take Breen’s bit about the hanging of father and son portraits of the Chairman and CEO – you really think Koreans don’t get it? If so you are either slipping on the glaze of your own analysis or else being patronizing in the extreme. Koreans get it all right, and a lot of them think it’s knee-slapping hilarious. (Just ask them.)

    Go back to Mr. Breen’s summarized account of the 5-hour interrogation by the prosecution in January, where they took him through each of the 17 or so spoof gifts that he mentioned, Heck, I’ll copy paste it here.

    Prosecutor- So, when you wrote that Huh Kyung-young had sent an inflatable rubber doll of himself to Park Geun-hye, you did not check the fact?”
    Breen- Correct (I kept the answers brief because he was typing as he went and there were literally 3 minute gaps between questions)
    (Gap)
    Pros- You wrote it knowing it might not be true?
    Breen- Correct
    (Gap – the same questions asked of all 17 or so spoof Xmas gifts in the column)
    Breen- Correct. It’s humor.
    Pros- But it’s not funny if it is not true.
    Breen- Is that a question?
    Pros- Huh?

    [Names added by me for clarity]

    Yes some Koreans get irony and sarcasm and satire (heaven knows my wife does, bless her), but I would not say it is a big part of the culture of humor in mainstream society. Somebody has already pointed out the many if not most comedy programs on Korean TV involve slapstick and sight gags.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Word is that Samsung dropped the civil complaint this morning. Now we need to see whether the prosecution has anyone with a functioning frontal lobe who can bring an end to the criminal process without indictment. Probably they’ll offer Mike a “suspended indictment” — i.e., Keep your nose clean and we won’t bring these charges, but if you screw up again this matter will be back to haunt you.

  • Pingback: This Just In: Samsung Drops Case Against Mike Breen | The Marmot's Hole

  • hamel

    The above is confirmed by Breen. S has dropped the case this morning!

    Praise be! (Who knows what, if any, role our stamping and shouting had to do with it, but it’s still a good result!)

  • cmm

    @83, 155 Minjoke

    The irony here is all this gnashing of teeth by expats about an electronics commodities producing national oligarchy with little to no social, cultural, or political influence outside of its national boundaries, while their own countries are being gutted and hollowed out by globalist financial oligarchs as we speak.

    Welcome. This is a Korea-focused blog. That makes it the proper forum and much less ironic.

    Does seeing 외국인들 criticizing Korea aggravate your 한?

    Anyway, continue to take your tired, tu quoque-like shots at those (outside your pure and beautiful 민족) who are being critical of something Korean.

  • dogbertt

    i just noticed that i got some 71 negative votes on my posts. i must have really pissed off the arnold horshak brigade. truth hurts.

    You just don’t get it.

    You could announce you’re cutting off your dick and running away to join the girl scouts and you’d _still_ get negative rep.

    No one cares about your message; everyone simply hates _you_.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    You could announce you’re cutting off your dick and running away to join the girl scouts and you’d _still_ get negative rep.

    dogbertt — Let’s not be hasty. I would definitely give that news a big thumbs-up. I say he should do it, if he wants our approval.

  • Minjokjuuija

    Does seeing 외국인들 criticizing Korea aggravate your 한?

    Seeing them act as vectors of virulent memes which have wreaked havoc on their own societies does trouble me and lead me to believe that defenses do have to be mounted against them. I think most of them act in good faith and aren’t consciously acting as such vectors, though I have no doubt that the most cynical among them know exactly what they’re doing.

    External examples and places are constantly cited and comparisons are drawn when criticisms and attacks are made. There’s nothing wrong with doing the same in defending against or responding to them.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    You could announce you’re cutting off your dick and running away to join the girl scouts…

    In Pawi’s case…been there, done that.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    @Minjok

    You, like, make video games or something for a living, don’t you?

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘if he wants our approval.’

    lol.

  • cmm

    Seeing them act as vectors of virulent memes which have wreaked havoc on their own societies does trouble me and lead me to believe that defenses do have to be mounted against them.

    So, 학생, are you mounting defenses against these virulent memes to protect your people? Or are you just surfing the internet, making faux-intellectual comments, and wondering what you’ll do until classes start next fall?

    I think most of them act in good faith and aren’t consciously acting as such vectors, though I have no doubt that the most cynical among them know exactly what they’re doing.

    Here’s an idea for a summer job – You’d make a good 영어강사. Maybe you could get a job at the summer camps and put that liberal arts education that you are getting to some use.

    Anyway, the old “they are out to get us” mentality. Great.

    External examples and places are constantly cited and comparisons are drawn when criticisms and attacks are made. There’s nothing wrong with doing the same in defending against or responding to them.

    Nothing wrong if you don’t mind being logical fellatious [sic] (see fallacious tu quoque @155).

    Anyway, I guess I’ll take your response as a yes to the question you blockquoted.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    No one cares about your message; everyone simply hates _you_.

    Hatred is the most sublime form of flattery

  • cmm

    I like you pawii.

    I still think I’d pawi though. He was a hateful SOB.

  • lmno

    @180

    Thanks for the comment, you’ve always got something to say worth reading. (No sarcasm intended!)

    I am going to stand by what I said earlier though. I thought 8675309 was painting with too broad a brush and his criticism missed the mark. And if I may, I think your reply is also a bit off-target.

    You mentioned that “some Koreans get irony and sarcasm and satire . . . but I would not say it is a big part of the culture of humor in mainstream society.” But 8675309 and I were debating specifically about Breen’s satire and whether Samsung “got it” or whether they were “meatheads” who “only after conferring with a dozen or so SNU-trained lawyers, English Ph.D’s, and translation experts, will they be able to comprehend this work of art on a literal level.” I agree that the Samsung execs who initiated this lawsuit are “meatheads” but not because they couldn’t comprehend the joke (“work of art” is a bit much, it’s Breen not Swift for goodness sake). Instead, it was Samsung’s blind hubris that ended up doing them more damage than Breen ever could have because they threw such a hissy fit about it. (All the more indication that the satire was timely and warranted. Samsung should have embraced it as a curative).

    I appreciate the dialog between the prosecutor and Breen you alerted me to. It’s hilarious and I hope it ends up printed as an anecdote somewhere. But, other than being funny, what’s the relevance to this discussion? Is it supposed to be symbolic of Koreans’ inability to grasp western comedy? The prosecutor says, “But it’s not funny if it is not true.” But this prosecutor is a terrible representative of both Korean cultural standards and legal principles. His statement fails (by Korean standards) as a definition of comedy – Koreans only love to laugh at stuff that’s true?? Absurd. It also fails – by Korean standards – as a definition of a legal defense for Breen. Even if Breen’s comments were true and funny to boot it wouldn’t have helped him out in a legal sense, would it? (Unless I’m mistaken, truth wasn’t the defense Breen was after, it was a form of free speech called “satire”). So I’m not sure what that dialog is supposed to clue me in to. It is funny though.

    The point I was making is: what was it about Breen’s comments specifically that made them so incomprehensible to Koreans? (I say nothing). The father and son portrait gag went over their heads? Of course it didn’t. (Whether or not Koreans in general may be a bit irony-impaired is besides the point.)

    The fact is that Samsung got the joke – they even said so in the complaint: “Even though anyone who read or heard of this article knows that this is not true, they can mention this as a joke, which can be spread easily, so its damage is very serious”. Samsung wasn’t saying they thought people might believe it was true, they were saying they didn’t think it was funny and Breen shouldn’t be allowed to joke in that manner – because, well, they were fucking Samsung and they were not to be laughed about.

    As I mention earlier, it’s a matter of taste, and what you are willing to accept as humorous – and if you want to dig deeper, it’s a matter of values.

    Breen’s comments were a form of straightforward satire that was designed to suggest that Samsung bosses were dictatorial, arrogant, corrupt, and too big for their britches. He was out to take them down a peg, as they well deserved. That’s a form of satire. And whether it’s tasteful or tasteless in places like the US they value the ability of a little guy to give a pointed jab at a powerful figure as part of people’s right to free speech. You can say the president or the chairman of the board is rotten bastard and you can make them look ridiculous in the process. The lawyer in the article got it right by explaining that in the US satire is a defense. The journalist said “In the U.S., a person can be held liable for defamation against a public figure or company only if the statements are false and uttered maliciously” but that’s exactly correct. You can say stuff that is as false and malicious as you want if it’s protected as satire or parody. Remember when Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt ran an add that said the Reverend Jerry Falwell lost his virginity with his mother in an outhouse while they were both drunk off their asses?
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5d/Falwellhustler.jpg

    False? Yep. Malicious? Most certainly. But totally protected.

    Falwell was in the same sort of position as Samsung at the time. Incredibly powerful, a leader of the Moral Majority, and while he accepted like Samsung that “anyone who read or heard of this article knows that this is not true” he didn’t think it was funny and like Samsung wanted Flynt to sit down and shut up.

    The other thing I thought was troubling in both 8675309 and your comment was (what seemed to me at least) this sort of low-brow comedy vs. high-brow comedy distinction. Like you needed a PhD to understand western humor but Korean jokes were no more than sight gags and slapstick. Now, I have to come clean and say I’d rather have nails driven into my skull than sit through a Korean comedy program – but I don’t think I can flatter myself or my culture by saying that it’s because it’s just low-brow slapstick (although I’d sure like to!). I think it’s just a matter of taste. It seems to me that low-brow comedy (particularly toilet humor) is all the rage in the U.S. these days. I’d even venture to say that obliterating the distinction between the low-brow and the high-brow is what defines western comedy these days, particularly the admixture of the two – from deep existential crisis to a big loud fart or puking up all over the place. But I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this.

  • lmno

    Error: The journalist said “In the U.S., a person can be held liable for defamation against a public figure or company only if the statements are false and uttered maliciously” but that’s NOT exactly correct.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg
    No one cares about your message; everyone simply hates _you_.

    Hatred is the most sublime form of flattery

    When I was in high school, there was a mentally handicapped girl who unfortunately couldn’t carry a tune. Her singing was horrible. But that didn’t stop a group of kids from telling her how great she sang–not because they were trying to make her feel better, but because they enjoyed having a laugh at her. Of course, she was oblivious to their true intentions.

    As I recall, there was an Italian boy who was part of that group. Gangpeh–that wouldn’t have been you, would it?

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    The journalist said “In the U.S., a person can be held liable for defamation against a public figure or company only if the statements are false and uttered maliciously” but that’s NOT exactly correct.

    lmno — Thanks for your comment and clarification. I thought the article did a pretty good job explaining the issues concisely, but of course it’s very hard to distill broad concepts — especially legal concepts — into ten- or fifteen-word sentences for a general audience.

    And we must always be conscious of the fact that for the most part, the public at large just doesn’t care about all the details. Once I was interviewed by ABC’s Primetime Live in relation to a notorious case I worked on. Ninety minutes of interview in which I explained the fascinating legal aspects got distilled down to a single, ten-second blurb.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    Iceberg: aaahhh the goold old days of high-school !! The boy obviously wasn’t me but that just brought up a story from my school days.

    Back in 1991, during my third year of HS, we had this English substitute teacher, some chick from London named Jessica. She was a chubby but kinda hottish 30-something woman: now you can see already where this is goin’…the slutty English teacher surrounded by scores of 16 yrs old wopper trash + minority kids: la crème de la crème from the local projects.

    As you can imagine her daily life in school was uerrgghh kinda harsh, i won’t say it was Class of 1984 material, but sure the Max Planck Institute it was not.

    Come late May, during the last English test of the year, i don’t know know what possessed me but i just wrote on the paper in very big font ” Fuck off and die bitch ” (in English of course). I swear the God i was never one of the guys who abused her before, even cos i didn’t find her attractive, as i always liked thin women. Generally i limited my antics during her class to playing black jack, sleeping, reading some manga, playing videogames or occasionally snorting some speed.

    To cut a long story short after my outburst she never showed up in our school again: apparently she had a nervous breakdown and left, which is something i find somewhat weird as she had to endure from other kids way worse than my insults (as there are ladies here, i’ll skip the details).

    Well if i think about it something tells me that after that experience she flew to the ROK, where she found meaningful employment in some hagwon, did you ever hear of some expat named Jessica ? Am i completely off base here ?

    In retrospect i have also to admit it isn’t entirely the fault of the great liberal intellectual conspiracy if i didn’t become Ivy League material :)

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Fascinating story Gangpeh.

    I’m a few years removed from working in a hagwon and maybe my feeble memory is betraying me, but I don’t recall anyone named Jessica. Then again, those were my single days, so maybe I was too busy boinking the (adult) female students to notice.

  • lmno

    @196

    For the record, I thought the article did an excellent job explaining the issues and getting the story out. I was just on a tangent above that is more or less irrelevant to the big picture. And your comments I thought were spot on, I envy anyone able to sum up so much material in a few terse sentences, keep it interesting, relevant and even funny. I tend to be pretty long-winded and soporific myself.

  • seouldout

    As I recall, there was an Italian boy who was part of that group. Gangpeh–that wouldn’t have been you, would it?

    You know, I recall him. We called him One-Eyed Jim. His eatin’ glue and snortin’ pencil shavings impressed Beaker – that’s the girl you mentioned, right? Here’s a class photo. BTW, you’ll see pawi, second row first on the left. He was tight w/ The Living Ham.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    You know, I recall him. We called him One-Eyed Jim. His eatin’ glue and snortin’ pencil shavings impressed Beaker – that’s the girl you mentioned, right

    Are you sure, sure and i mean 110% positive you were not in school with Sperwer and Granfalloon ?

  • http://www.ktlit.com ccmontgom

    Hatred is the most sublime form of flattery

    LOL.. the clarion call of the loser, from the US punk who shoots, to the more passive Korean kid who plummets.

    Stretch GP is hated because his logic/arguments morph depending on aim, not logic/argument.

    I hereby Godwin this entire thread by noting that the logic of hatred=flattery makes the most flattered man in German history…

    ….

    Hermann Goering

    oh.. ok.. I didn’t go there… ;-)

  • gangpehmoderniste

    LOL.. the clarion call of the loser, from the US punk who shoots, to the more passive Korean kid who plummets

    to the English teacher or other expat working some temp position for a salary smaller than my son monthly entertainment budget, whose biggest disgrace in life seems to be related with living in Korea

    Stretch GP is hated because his logic/arguments morph depending on aim, not logic/argument

    I don’t understand, Dogbertt said Pawi is hated and well i have to admit Dogbertt is no fool so i assume he’s right…from the way you guys describe him Pawi seems like a complete, incompetent fool, is he worth of hatred then ? I mean do you remember the old adage “Don’t ever argue with an idiot etc. etc.” ?

    Hermann Goering

    What now ? Herr Goering is a good-for-nothing in your book ?

  • http://www.ktlit.com ccmontgom

    LOL..
    gphgibbergibber seems to have difficulty with quoting (and html) in his defense that hatred is somehow sublime flattery.

    It’s OK mate.. if that’s the story that lets you sleep, no one here wants you awake…

    And I mean that in a sense that applies to all of us who post here.

    Just saying that the defense the hated use, that the fact they are despised is actually a function of their nobility?

    True in about 1% of all cases..

    Stretch GP?

    Not in that group… and not idiotic enough to just sit in his corner and drool. Kind of like George Bush (crap, I’ve just invoked the LAWYER BC!) in my mind.

    As to Mr. HG.. nothing against him other than his Nazi swineness!

    ;-)

  • gangpehmoderniste

    It’s OK mate.. if that’s the story that lets you sleep, no one here wants you awake…

    you have a point..the problem with internet wit wars is they are endless circle jerks where nobody ever get off

    (even if it’s all additional traffic)

  • slim

    I think pawi is fine on (non-Mediterranean) cuisine, Korean films and TV and geezer K-pop and he’s shown some wit in gravatar photo-shopping.

    He’s out of his element on Muslim issues, freedom of speech, geopolitics, US politics … and too predictably nationalistic on any and all sensitive Korean topics.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘Then again, those were my single days, so maybe I was too busy boinking the female students to notice.’ iceberg

    just what i thought.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    just what i thought.

    LOL! Of course that’s just what you thought. Or rather, that’s what you presume. That’s why you’re such an angry prick.

    You’re so predictable, Pawi; and your inability to comprehend the subtle sarcasm in my comment is no surprise either.

    Oh, and as a bonus I notice you conveniently omitted “adult” in your reply. Nice one, Stretch.

    Have a nice day.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    Are Iceberg and pawi really sock-puppets of each other?

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Yes, we are. However, I usually sign in as Pawi after I’ve smoked a bowl.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    just like a jack-in-the-box. i twist him up and out he pops. too easy.
    i’ll be saving your comment for a ‘quotable quotes’ moment.

  • http://sonoficeberg.wordpress.com/ Iceberg

    Of course you will.

  • Acropolis7

    Samsung is also planning on suing the producers of the 80′s hit franchise “Robocop” because they were not given credit as being the inspiration for OCP.

  • dogbertt

    I only just got around to actually reading Article 309(1) of Korea’s Criminal Act regarding defamation, and a plain reading of the text clearly requires a showing of an intent to defame.

    I’ve wondered about that too. The schmucks and putzes I work with tell me that’s almost dormant language — i.e., intent to defame is presumed, as if the “intent” really means intentional publication rather than malice as we Amurrican lawyers would understand it. Your mileage may vary.

    What do the Presidential and/or Enforcement Decrees say?

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    To my knowledge the Criminal Code has no Enforcement Decree. There are a handful of Korean statutes which don’t.

  • dogbertt

    Seems a bit ironic that particular statue would lack an “enforcement” decree.

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