Don’t kill the golden gooseSamsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee was questioned yesterday by the special prosecutor. Whether the accusations involving him are true or not, he is undeniably Korea’s representative entrepreneur. He made Samsung Electronics the world’s largest DRAM semiconductor manufacturer. Few will disagree that he has served as a locomotive to globalize Korean products around the world. Because he is the exemplar of a Korean businessman, we worry about how that will affect Korea’s image in the world.
The special investigation into the Samsung Group has apparently entered its final stage, the questioning of the chairman. The independent counsel repeatedly extended its investigation period. Because of the extension, we expect the investigators will thoroughly clear up their suspicions in accordance with the law. There is something we should consider deeply. It is the matter between the law and reality. If Samsung is found guilty of committing illegalities, it, of course, must take responsibility. Samsung must accept such a situation humbly. That is the only way for it to move beyond the past.
And yet, there is an obstacle we must overcome. As Venerable Song Wolju, former chief executive of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order, said, “it is not good to use a knife to quickly treat a wound and make the patient’s condition even more serious.”
It is also necessary to listen to the voices from the recent symposium of the Hayek Society, a gathering of renowned economists, where participants spoke about concerns that “a bull could die while it’s trying to cure its horn.” In other words, we must look at reality. We need to consider a way for Samsung to survive.
That is not something the independent counsel can do alone. The special prosecutor only reviews cases with the law in mind. That is why we need wisdom. We must not kill the goose that lays golden eggs just because its feathers get stained with dirt.
To this end, we need a national consensus. Fortunately, significant requests have been made from the business community, academia and even the religious community that the independent counsel probe end as soon as possible. Since Lee has submitted to questioning, we should think together how to wrap up the Samsung issue. Not only the government, but also politicians, businessmen, scholars and media must participate in this discussion. The matter is too important to leave in the hands of a whistle-blower and the special prosecutor.