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Samsung dilutes Lee’s remarks

Samsung on Wednesday rushed to once again water down Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s recent remarks that appeared to be critical of government policies, saying that his comments did not reflect his true intentions.

Kim Soon-taek, chief of Samsung’s strategic planning unit, told a weekly CEO meeting that the chairman was “disturbed because what he said was not what he meant.”

Kim also said the chairman wishes to avidly cooperate with the government, particularly on the issue of supporting mutual growth with smaller business partners, as it is an area where Lee himself feels strongly about, according to Rhee In-yong, vice executive vice president of Samsung communications’ team.

On March 10, the Samsung Electronics chairman and Samsung owner told reporters that he would not give a failing mark to the administration’s economic policies, but that he also was not particularly satisfied. 
Lee Kun-hee
Lee Kun-hee

Samsung later on claimed it was a backhand compliment, but that the chairman’s style of speech was “eccentric.”

His true intentions aside, Lee appeared to have rubbed the government the wrong way, with Cheong Wa Dae responding that it was not at all pleased with the remarks.

But Samsung was unclear on where the chairman stands regarding other critical remarks he made toward a recent proposal from former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan for larger corporations to share excess profit with their smaller partners and vendors.

Chung and Lee clashed after the businessman said he had never before seen or heard of such schemes in any of the economic texts he had studied.

Chung fired back, saying Lee did not understand the true meaning of the idea, and also criticized Lee’s attitude.

Samsung on Wednesday said only that Samsung is committed to supporting its smaller counterparts.

But Lee Kun-hee’s remarks appeared to have triggered yet another rift, this time between Chung and Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung.

Choi told reporters on Wednesday that the idea was wrong from the start, and that was difficult to apply in real life.

“It seems to me quite unproductive to continue discussing a concept that has not even been agreed upon by members of our society,” he said.

Chung immediately flared up once again, saying the remarks were unfit as the minister on economic policies.

Talking with reporters, he also lamented that there was still so little understanding about profit-sharing.

By Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)
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