Samsung’s Heir’s Arrest Clouds the Company’s Future

Xiang Qi

Samsung’s de facto chairman, now vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong was arrested on Friday in South Korea on account of bribery, embezzlement and perjury as a part of an investigation into a confidante of the President Park Geun-hye. In South Korea’s chaebol culture, the chairman must endorse or make corporate decisions. So the arrest of Mr. Lee is far more serious since Mr. Lee has been Samsung’s de facto leader after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

For decades, chaebols like Samsung, LG and Lotte had been fueling the country’s economy, with 10 largest Chaebols’ revenues exceeding 80 percent of South Korea’s GDP. On the other hand, the opposition lawmaker is calling for more harsh and transparent attitude toward large companies, addressing the tendency among law enforcement agencies to treat major Chaebols with kid gloves. Even though the public anger towards Chaebols have been on the rise over the years, it is pessimistic that Korean government will set an example with Mr. Lee because the country deeply relies on these Chaebols to grow its economy.