Foxconn’s head bashes Koreans

Terry Gou, the head of Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics firm that does subcontract work for some small American electronics racket hardly worth talking about, apparently has issues with Koreans (see also here):

This time, Gou’s apparently catching heat for remarks he made about Koreans. While talking about his company’s new venture with Sharp and his desire to defeat Samsung, Gou told Business Week (via Korea’s The Chosunilbo), “I respect the Japanese and especially like their execution and communication styles. Unlike the Koreans, they will not hit you from behind.”

According to Japan Probe, what he said might have been much worse:

The Chosun Ilbo’s English translation may be a toned down version of what was actually said. Japanese blogs report that Guo used the word “高麗棒子,” which is a Chinese ethnic slur for Koreans. Japanese bloggers also claim that Guo did said that Japanese “will never stab you in the back” (日本人は絶対後ろから刃物を刺さない).

Sounds like Japanese bloggers trying to stir the shit, but who knows.

On a related note, I’ve been real happy since I managed to free myself from Steve Jobs’ beyond-the-grave death grip by trading in my iPhone 4 for a Galaxy Note. Sure, initially, it’s not as intuitive as the iPhone, but I feel I can do more stuff with it, that I have more control. And the 5.3″ AMOLED screen is just beautiful.

(HT to reader)

  • Sonagi

    The 5.3 AMOLED screen is getting a thumbs-down stateside from tech reviewers. While shopping for phone accessories the other day, I watched two young men hold the new Samsung Galaxy Note to their ears and laugh.

  • Celebith

    Some of the tech review sites, especially Gizmodo, display an overwhelming hatred for the Note, complaining that users need to have gorilla sized hands to use it. All of the actual people I know who have used the Note seem to love it, though.

    I’m going to side with the real people instead of the asshats on Giz.

  • holterbarbour

    Celebith, I have a Note, and I hate it. Not so much because of its unwieldy dimensions (and they are unwieldy), but because it’s as slow and buggy as the 2-year old Galaxy S it replaced. The Galaxy S was an amazing phone when I got it, but it slowed down and developed some kinks after a while. It’s like I have my decrepit old Galaxy S, except frikkin’ huge. But even if the Note were as cooperative as it should be, it’s still too big. I like to be able to use my phone with one hand, and I can’t with the Note.

  • Hatch SZ

    Was it easy transferring music and pictures out of iTunes and iPhotos and into the equivalent for Android??

  • gbnhj

    This just seems like a tempest in a teapot. Scratch the surface of Gou’s attitude, and you may well find that he was commenting on business relationships, not on people in general. I’d bet, over the years, he’s gotten into a bad deal or two, and has a story to tell. But does he have it in for everyone on the penninsula? Maybe, but maybe not.

  • cm
  • Sperwer

    Whatgbnhj said. I think you would be hard-pressed to find any foreign businessman who does not have more than one horror story about being hosed by his korean counterparts and “partners” – though those who for whatever reason persist in trading with korea, partivularly in korea, understandably keep quiet about except among close friends and non-koreans. Most others simply move on; a few will harbor grudges for a long time.

  • Year of the Dragon

    so funny… really.

    Even the Taiwanese don’t trust Koreans. What country does though?

    Mainland Chinese feel the same way about Korea – you just have to read some of the comments by Chinese people about Korea –

  • cm

    Anyone here think it’s unprofessional for someone of that stature, in a speech to a bunch of shareholders, to use racist slurs, no matter how much resentment he may have had towards a group of people? Those kinds of hate speeches really should be held privately, and there wouldn’t be any problems.

  • Sperwer

    What’s wrong with gou’s speech, from a rhetorical angle, is the opening it provides for just such efforts to shift the focus of the discussion aaway from the substance of his coomplaint to the “victimized Korea” trope. Then again, as is demonstrated in this forum on an almost daily basis, the usual suspects are not constrained from making that move without any such provocation, since they will infer a sinister intent from any criticism of uri nara.

  • Brendon Carr

    I think you would be hard-pressed to find any foreign businessman who does not have more than one horror story about being hosed by his korean counterparts and “partners” – though those who for whatever reason persist in trading with korea, partivularly in korea, understandably keep quiet about except among close friends and non-koreans.

    Inexplicably, I have never been hosed by any law firm at which I’ve worked, or by any Korean lawyer with whom I’ve associated. I’ve been dissatisfied and frustrated, for sure, but for some reason I’ve had very good luck with people keeping their spoken-word agreements.

    At Dave Barch’s former workplace Schmuck & Putz, where I joined without knowing the exact salary figure, and at the last place — which I thought had a bad reputation with some other foreign lawyers warning me off — I have found that even when the law firm’s management was unhappy about the deal, a deal is a deal after all. This does not match the experience of my clients with their business partners, alas.

  • Brendon Carr

    I like to be able to use my phone with one hand, and I can’t with the Note.

    But you can palm a basketball. That’s how big the Note is.

  • cm

    What’s wrong? The word “Bangzi” is a slur. I’m sure the MH will be up and arms if let’s say Lee Myung Bak in his speech to the press says “you can’t trust them (fill in the slur) because they’ll stab you in the back”. It’ nothing to do with “victimized Korea” trope. I don’t play that here.

    #11, Foxconn’s beef with Samsung (therefore his beef with all Koreans) starts with 2010 European flat panel industry collusion case. Samsung ratted on their collusion partners which included Taiwanese companies, to avoid paying a huge fine which Honhai (Foxconn) had to shell out.

  • holterbarbour

    Brendon, at first I thought my phone was huge, but maybe I’m getting used to it. Everyone else’s looks so tiny now.

    This, of course, must be how all my ex-girlfriends feel.

  • Robert Koehler

    Pawi—I did you a favor and deleted that comment to give you a chance to reconsider the terminology employed.

  • Sperwer

    Quod erat demonstratum

  • pawikirogii 石鵝

    you know, i forgot; you only tolerate racial epithets to koreans. i mean, you dont delete the word bangzi, do you?

  • Year of the Dragon


  • pawikirogii 石鵝

    aboriginie = australian nigger

  • dokdoforever

    There definitely does seem to be some Taiwanese animosity towards Koreans. There was also that ‘no Koreans welcome’ sign posted by the Taiwanese taxis that CM alludes to.

    Besides Korea siding with the PRC, there are other historical reasons for Taiwanese anti-Korean feelings. There used to be large Chinese communities in Korea – China Town in Incheon and a big Chinese neighborhood in Myungdong. Park Chung Hee passed a law which made it illegal for them to run their businesses – basically he revoked their property rights and expelled them from the country. And, most of them migrated to Taiwan. So, those people and their descendants still have bad feelings towards Koreans.

  • yuna

    Ahh, I’m so happy the hate is so well balanced in East Asia, I mean, heaven forbid if one of the three actually started liking another, there would be a such an upset of natural balance – and then BANG in the middle we have the wild card, North Korea.

    Everybody thinks Taiwan is just Chinese wannabe Hello Kitty nation, and unfortunately Japan hates China more than ever before as this new survey shows:

  • yuna

    Poor Taiwan, it has some serious identity issues, I mean it’s actually Chinese made up of Chinese people, but the confusion/ambiguity it must feel…
    Terry Gou might joke he would “buy” the Senakau to solve the dispute, but Taiwan’s stance on the Senkaku is at one with China.

  • cm

    #20, Korea doesn’t side with PRC China. Korea did what it had to do, and did what all other countries did, when they dropped diplomatic recognition of Taiwan for China in 1992. Korea was the last country to have relations with Taiwan, when other countries from Japan to US gave up on them twenty years earlier. It was Taiwan who broke off the relationship with Korea first, when Korea informed Taiwan what Korea’s plan was. If Taiwan is angry over this, then they should also be angry at lot of the countries in the west, as well as Japan.

  • dokdoforever

    My main point was about Park’s expropriation of Taiwanese property in Korea – not the diplomatic recognition.

  • hoju_saram

    Ahh, I’m so happy the hate is so well balanced in East Asia, I mean, heaven forbid if one of the three actually started liking another, there would be a such an upset of natural balance

    Haha – funny because it’s true.

  • WangKon936

    I love one of the comments at kotaku (evidently a sarcastic one by a Korean):

    “That’s right, we’re a vile people. I totally backstabbed my cousin the other day over a roll of kimbap. Completely worth it.”

  • YangachiBastardo

    Foxconn entering a strategic alliance with Sharp aka one of the most putrescent Japanese corporate zombies ?

    Geez that’s something to make the whole Nokia/Microsoft sordid affair look like the corporate deal of the decade

  • dokdoforever

    Actually I was talking last month with a former Foreign Ministry official who had been stationed in the Korean embassy in Taiwan during the transfer. He was sent to Beijing along with theh rest of the staff. He said that the Taiwanese threw eggs at the Korean embassy, and were pretty upset about it. I could be wrong, but I doubt that the Taiwanese threw eggs at the Japanese or American embassies. The Taiwanese probably viewed/ view Korea as a peer. Both divided nations, both US allies, both Export oriented industrializing ‘tigers.’ It’s probably upsetting to be betrayed by the other country that was in such a similar position. And, the Taiwanese don’t have to worry about offending Koreans the way they do with the Americans and Japanese. US support to Taiwan can’t compare to Korea. The Taiwanese won’t dare alienate the US. They need Japan too. But they don’t really need Korea. So, Korea becomes a good target for expressing anger at betrayal.

  • DLBarch

    BC @ 11 mentions the law firm of ol’ Schmuck & Putz, and I’d add that housing clauses in employment contracts can be a real disappointment for foreign professionals expecting something of a standard expat package from their Korean employers, only to find out after it’s too late that “housing” consists of an unfurnished officetel in the not-bad-but-not-exactly-posh neighborhood of Gongdeok-dong. (Shudder! The horror!)

    Also, professional salaries in Seoul are likely to come as a real shock, and do not really compete with U.S. counterparts. (BTW, I actually found my 10 minutes at a Korean law firm a nice return to transaction work, but my DNA runs toward litigation, and for me at least, the cut in salary and the lower quality of life made working in Seoul a short-term prospect even under the best of circumstances.)

    Still, some folks stick around for decades, so there must be something about the place that attracts the long-term expat. Kudos to them!

    As for Korean business practices, meh. How many ways can you say “breach of contract” in Korean? Give me a German business partner any day of the week.


  • WangKon936


    True, but Sharp has some interesting LCD screen technology. Japan, Inc. still has some great technology. What they lack is the vitality that Taiwan, China and Korea has. I think the pairing of Japanese tech with Taiwanese manufacturing expertise and China connections is a good one.

  • YangachiBastardo

    I’d say, on top of the reasons stated, many taiwanese tend to dislike Koreans cos well, ater spending a loooooooong time lagging behind, Korea has pretty much surpassed Taiwan.

    Taiwan has a higher per capita GDP PPP and honestly it kinda surprise me cos salaries and overall standard of living seem significantly higher in Korea.

    I love Taiwan. it’s fun, wild, cheap and food is awesome (probably my favourite Asian country together with Malaysia when it’s dinner time). Taiwanese people kick ass, very entrepreneurial and fun to be around.

    At the same time the country is also kinda dirty, disorderly, loud and damn still too many motor scooters, as i said it’s a bit like Napoli.

    Housing conditions imho are far better in Korea.

    I think also the Hallyu wave might have contributed a bit to sour relationships

  • YangachiBastardo

    Japan, Inc. still has some great technology. What they lack is the vitality that Taiwan, China and Korea has

    Indeed, i’m always surprised by the innovative power Japanese scientists still display and the miniscule size of their VC sector.

    Their system is indeed totally fucked up, to a certain degree even more so than than Souther Europe: the only place where i encountered worse red tape has been Brazil (which is like a country imho going straight into another financial disaster btw)

  • dokdoforever

    You could say: 계약 위반

    I agree about Taiwanese housing. Alot of the buildings in Taipei reminded me of the old parts of Tongdaemoon Market. Taiwan’s PPP per capita GDP is higher than Korea’s: 38K vs. 31K, but it’s true, in terms of building stock and cars Taiwan looks poorer. Hard to understand how the statistics don’t accord with appearances.

  • dokdoforever

    No way! the CIA world factbook has Japan’s PPP Per Capita GDP at $34K per year, meaning that Taiwanese are wealthier than Japanese, and Koreans are nearly equal. That’s surprising.

  • YangachiBastardo

    dokdof: outside of a few neighbourhoods, Tokyo doesn’t exactly give me the impression of a rich city.

    I’m surprised it’s that high

    Most people will think i’m biased but visually Korea come across as much richer than most Europe too: no comparison in terms of cars, clothes, buildings etc.

    Still i have to admit i’d hate to be a poor, mentally ill senior citizen in Korea…in that case i think that in **GASP** France life would be a bit more humane

  • cm

    #33, per capita nominal GNP wise, Korea’s 23K is ahead of Taiwan’s, yet Korea’s currency value is vastly more under valued than Taiwan’s.

  • cm

    Purchase Power Parity statistics usually favor the poorer countries a lot more than the richer ones. No one believes Japanese are that poor.

  • YangachiBastardo

    cm: you are right about PPP, in case of East Asia the discrepancy though is mostly due to the grotesque undervaluation of the local currencies

    GDP statistics highly unreliable though, and i suspect the Western World engage in massive manipulation of numbers to look richer:

  • pawikirogii 石鵝

    all this hate got nothing to do with park. it has everything to do with jealousy. korea is richer and has a pop culture that the taiwanese can’t seem to part with. if that weren’t bad enough, taiwan to most koreans is some vague country. if there is rivalry, it’s only the taiwanese who feel it.

  • WangKon936


    I find it interesting if you take your exact statement and replace Korea with Japan and Taiwan with Korea and put that statement in… oh, say 2002 or 2003…

    Of course things are different now.

  • susasum

    This isn’t another case of mistranslation? Perhaps he meant: no one will give you a good smack on the back after you’ve completed a project like the Koreans – they have a unique primitive energy and a celebratory spirit that revels in a job well done.

  • Maximus2008

    “Most people will think i’m biased but visually Korea come across as much richer than most Europe too”

    You have been spending too much time in Gangnam, Jong-gu and Myeongdong. Go to any e-mart to see people in their pajamas or dressed sloppy, or leave Seoul to see the packed neighborhoods and real-life small shops, restaurants and buildings. This is not a bad thing, but Korea is much more than Seoul’s rich areas.

  • WangKon936


    There are only so many ways to translate “高麗棒子.”

  • Year of the Dragon

    aboriginie = australian nigger


    My skin is whiter than yours pawi….

  • kuiwon

    As a Korean, I do feel bad that ROK cut off diplomatic relations with the ROC, in favor of the PRC some 20 years ago, and hence can understand why he would use the slur “高麗棒子.”

    On another note, Koreans use “胡”, which means “barbarian,” in various words still in use to this day (mostly in food) to refer to the Chinese (e.g., 호떡 = Chinese pancakes).

  • Q

    Bloomberg reported:

    “What needs to be focused on going forward is whether Hon Hai and Sharp will still have an alliance even if they can’t agree on the terms,” said Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo. “It won’t be positive news for Sharp if the alliance isn’t maintained.” Nor for Apple.

    So Samurai will never stab you in the back.

  • Q

    More updated Bloomberg report:

    Sharp’s “stock price decline shows investor skepticism that Foxconn can actually help turn the company around,” said Vincent Chen, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Co. in Taipei. “We can see that Foxconn being closely connected to Apple is no guarantee that Sharp will be able to secure any extra orders.”

    Keep up the good work, Mr. Guo.