S. Koreans’ Ties with Samsung Are Lifelong, Often Conflicted

S. Koreans’ Ties with Samsung Are Lifelong, Often Conflicted

The family smartphones? An assortment of Samsung Galaxies. The flat-screen TV that illuminates the living room? A Samsung SUHD, with the brand name sparkling on the nameplate. The maker of the digital toilet seat? You guessed it: Samsung.

It’s difficult for people outside South Korea to fully grasp what Samsung, a truly global brand, means inside its home country, where it is far more than just another big company. It is seen variously as both a talisman and a millstone, as national savior and greedy business behemoth. Those diverse views only intensified Thursday when a court rejected prosecutors’ request to arrest Samsung heir and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong in the corruption scandal surrounding impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung is inextricably woven into the psychological fabric of this small, proud country, where a reverence for wealth, power and prestige is linked to rapid economic growth after the Korean War, when authoritarian government policies favored big businesses…

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