The vice-chairman of Samsung, Lee Jae-Yong, was recently accused of multiple offenses and charges of bribery. He currently awaits the judge’s decision in a detention center.
There are several proposed reasons for Lee’s participation in the bribery scandal. Samsung Electronics, a dominant force in the consumer electronics world, has come under scrutiny after their Galaxy Note 7 smartphones began catching fire. Lee was accused of bribing the President of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, as well as a confidante of hers, Choi Soon-sil, with 43 billion won for government backing. Despite the many charges made against Lee, the public remains divided. Many business groups believe that charging Lee would negatively impact the economy due to the enormous role Samsung plays in the international tech industry. Others support Lee’s arrest as a means of demonstrating that all are equal under the law.
South Korea President Park, who is currently facing impeachment, also awaits questioning by prosecutors. They plan to ask her about the bribery accusations against Lee.
Should the impeachment votes pass Constitutional Court, President Park will be removed from office and another presidential election would be held within 60 days. This and the Samsung scandal may spark economic uncertainty, thus slowing the economic growth rate and possibly resulting in an economic recession, according to Kim Jung-Sik, an economics professor at Yonsei University.
While Samsung Electronics is one of the eight companies that admitted to making payments to the country’s pension fund, NPS (National Pension Service) chairman Moon Hyung-Pyo has denied receiving any of those payments.
The scandal only yields one positive outcome, and that is the opportunity to closely regulate the relationships between the government and the private sector. The credibility of both sides is essential to a stable and prosperous South Korean economy.