Samsung declares war on Korean press

Samsung declares war on Korean press

SOUTH KOREA - A new controversy has emerged in the local tech industry, this time involving a showdown between the country's most powerful company - Samsung - and a member of the Korean press.

Back in March, ETnews, one of the leading publications here on tech issues, published an article claiming that due to flaws in the camera lens of the Galaxy S5, Samsung Electronics may fall short of producing the 7 million units planned for the first batch.

It also said that this had led to a disruption in the world's largest smartphone maker's mass production plans, forcing it to consider postponing the S5's April 11 global release.

Samsung at the time asked ETnews to issue a correction, but the news outlet refused to comply.

The global tech company has now sued for damages of up to 350 million won (S$421,000).

"Money is a secondary issue, and Samsung will not seek more than this amount," Kim Jun-shik, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics' corporate communications team, said at a recent meeting with reporters.

"What Samsung would like to make known is that there are some news outlets that are acting like outlaws, and that these outlets refuse to listen to what we have to say and explain."

Kim was referring to the ETnews article, and also a recent story run by another tech-focused publication that falsely claimed that Samsung Electronics had destroyed a staggering 1.3 million defective Galaxy S5 phones in a bonfire.

In addition to the publications, Samsung appeared to be targeting some of its own subcontractors for reportedly passing on misleading information.

In the local tech industry, it is common for journalists to rely on vendors for stories, as it is difficult to talk directly with Samsung employees.

The situation between Samsung and ETnews has spawned a mess of interpretations and speculation.

Some believe Samsung, worried about lower-than-expected sales of the S5, is trying to pressure local news agencies - many of which depend on Samsung for ad revenue - to refrain from writing negative stories and reviews.

Others say the vendors, many of which harbour ill feelings toward Samsung for making difficult demands and cutting supply prices, may be the real cause of the problem.

Whatever the truth is, ETnews has already implied that it will not let itself be threatened by the tech behemoth. The publication is on the warpath, rolling out story after story critical of Samsung.

At the same time, there is the issue of just how justified the local press is, as many are known to write incorrect stories, particularly about the conglomerates.

The integrity of both Samsung and the media appears to be at stake.

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