As more than 200 thousand protestors swept through all major South Korean cities last week calling for the resignation of the country’s president Park Geun-hye for her ties to a cult-worshiping confidante, the Samsung conglomerate began to emerge at the center of that political maelstrom.
The Cult Controls President Park
The protesters poured into the streets after the revelations ten days ago that President Park had been seeking psychic and political advice from Choi Soon-sil, a female friend of 40 years with shamanic leanings, who lacked security clearance.
Choi, now being held in government detention while being investigated, reportedly inherited her psychic abilities from her father, Choi Tae-min, the cult leader, about whom U.S. ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow said in 2007: “Rumors are rife that the late pastor [Choi Tae-min] had complete control over [President] Park’s body and soul during her formative years.” The cult leader died in 1994.
While she secretly advised President Park, 64 years old, on a variety of presidential matters from defense policy to the contents of speeches, Choi, 60 years old, funneled funds from corporations to her foundations in return for influence on government policy. Samsung gave her non-profit shell corporations a total of KRW 20.4 billion (U$178 million), the largest among the corporate donations Choi has to date collected, according to press reports.
Samsung is Behind Choi
Samsung did not just stop there. Since Sept. 2015, the conglomerate wired a total of KRW 3.5 billion (U$30 million) to Choi and her daughter Chung Yoo-ra, a 21-year-old equestrian dressage athlete currently training in Germany. Samsung also committed KRW 18.6 billion to a project laid out by the Korea Equestrian Federation to bring Chung to the Olympics in 2020, according to multiple local reports.
In addition, Samsung every month wired 800,000 euros (U$883,000) to Chung and Choi and gave a $1 million horse to the daughter as a gift.
In that period, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. president, external affairs, Park Sang-jin, flanked by the company’s legal counsel, visited Choi in Germany. Through her German corporation, Samsung donated 22 million euros (U$24 million) to equestrian facilities in the German province of Essen, the Seoul Broadcasting System reported on Nov. 6, quoting Robert Kuypers, managing director of the province’s equestrian association.
Consultation On Labor?
Choi described Samsung’s donations as pay for her influence on the South Korean government’s R&D support and labor policies, the SBS quoted Kuypers as saying.
Samsung in effect paid Choi when it was in desperate need of government favors. Before and after that period, Samsung could sell low-margin defense units to the Hanwha Group, which also needed a government favor. Its chairman, Kim Seung-yon was released from jail in 2014, after a waiver of the jail terms.
In July 2016, the National Pension Service voted for a controversial merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, paving the way at the cost of its own bottom line for the conglomerate’s hereditary managerial succession.
Most of all, in Oct. 2016, Samsung almost abruptly walked out of negotiations with SHARPS after months of delays and failure to reply.
On Nov. 8 morning, Seoul time, as this posting goes online, the South Korean government is executing a search warrant on Samsung’s corporate headquarters in south Seoul as part of investigations into Choi’s influence-peddling.
“It is deplorable. Samsung, on one hand, attempted to silence occupational-disease victims with a few of tens of thousands of won [several tens of thousands of dollars],” SHARPS said in a statement on Nov. 3. “On the other hand, it spent tens of millions on Choi and Chung.”
“We are witnessing to how Samsung is trading in the tears and blood of hundreds of workers,” it added. “[Vice Chairman] Lee Jae-yong must be arrested and sent to jail.”
On Nov. 5, Hwang Sang-ki, a SHARPS founder and the father of Hwang Yu-mi, the first known victim of Samsung’s cluster, took to the podium at the anti-Park rally in central Seoul and spoke before 200,000-plus protesters. “Nine years have passed since [my daughter died].” Hwang said. “The only change has been the number of the dead. Seventy-six died out of the 224 [profiled by SHARPS].
“So many victims and their families are now living below the poverty line, battling impoverishment and disease,” he went on saying. “How can we understand how Samsung is bribing Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil with billions?”
“They are unforgivable,” Hwang said.
SHARPS’ Sit-in Continues
Since Oct. 7, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to: 1) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 2) make a sincere and full apology.
Last week, they winterized their canopy.
*The post was updated on Nov. 7 (EST) to better describe why Samsung donated 22 million euros to equestrian facilities in Germany.