Samsung vice-chairman asked by former peer to negotiate with victimsPhoto: Paul Jobin. Photo: Academia.edu

A French scholar who took an MBA course about 20 years ago in Japan with Lee Jae-yong (also known as “Jay"), vice chairman and the heir apparent of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., urged Mr. Lee to negotiate with victims of the company’s occupational disease cluster.

Samsung vice-chairman asked by former peer to negotiate with victimsPhoto: Paul Jobin. Photo: Academia.edu

A French scholar who took an MBA course about 20 years ago in Japan with Lee Jae-yong (also known as “Jay"), vice chairman and the heir apparent of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., urged Mr. Lee to negotiate with victims of the company’s occupational disease cluster.

In an open letter posted on Facebook Sept. 14Paul Jobin, associate professor of East Asian Studies at Paris Diderot University in France, and Mr. Lee’s former peer at Keio Business School in Japan, demanded sincerity and transparency in Samsung’s dialogue with SHARPS, saying, “I hope you can resume as soon as possible the social dialogue with Sharps, which is representing more than 200 victims from your company, and I wish this dialogue will be sincere and transparent.”

Heir Apparent Without Accountability

Prof. Jobin’s open plea came at an appropriate time. Jae-yong, the only son of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, has been gradually assuming control over the world’s largest technology company from his bedridden father.  Lee the younger has been part of Samsung’s top management since 2011 when he was named Vice President, Corporate Planning and a year later took the vice chairman position.

Chairman and Vice Chairman 
The titles of chairman and vice chairman are misnomers outside of a Korean context because neither Chairman Lee nor Vice Chairman Jae-yong  is a member of the board of directors at Samsung.  The patriarch and his son are chairman and vice chairman of the company, not its board.

By taking these once-titular, obsolete roles, the Lees control Samsung, a public company with U$199.4 billion in market value, and exempt them from fiduciary duties and public accountability.  This surely explains why it was not Messrs. Lee, but Kwon Oh-hyun, who at best nominally runs Samsung as CEO and as a director, made an apology last year to victims of the occupational disease cluster.  It also at least partly explains why Samsung continues to flip-flop in its negotiations with the families and SHARPS.

At the press conference Sept. 7 by SHARPS, some victim families called on Vice Chairman Lee to make an apology and negotiate with SHARPS