19 January 2017

S. Koreans' ties with Samsung are lifelong, often conflicted

In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, photo, Lee Jae-yong, center, a vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. arrives for the hearing at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea. Many South Koreans were shocked at the sight of Lee being dragged into custody and then released when a court declined to formally arrest him. Its quite difficult for outsiders to fully grasp how Samsung is inextricably woven into the psychological fabric of this small, proud country.
The family smartphones? An assortment of Samsung Galaxies. The flat-screen TV that illuminates the living room? A Samsung SUHD, with the brand name sparkling on the nameplate. The maker of the digital toilet seat? You guessed it: Samsung.
It's difficult for people outside South Korea to fully grasp what Samsung, a truly global brand, means inside its home country, where it is far more than just another big company. It is seen variously as both a talisman and a millstone, as national savior and greedy business behemoth. Those diverse views only intensified Thursday when a court rejected prosecutors' request to arrest Samsung heir and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong in the corruption scandal surrounding impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Court denies a request to arrest Samsung's de facto head

Lee Jae-yong, a vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. gets into a car as he leaves after waiting for the court's decision in front of a detention center in Uiwang, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. A Seoul court denied a request to arrest Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, allowing Lee to return home, a setback to prosecutors investigating an influence-peddling scandal that toppled South Korea's president.
A Seoul court on Thursday denied a request to arrest one of South Korea's most powerful men, the heir to the Samsung Electronics juggernaut, in a setback to prosecutors investigating an influence-peddling scandal that toppled South Korea's president.
The Seoul Central District Court said that a judge concluded that there was not enough justification to detain the 48-year-old billionaire Samsung vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong, at this stage.

Death toll in Mali suicide blast rises to at least 60

In this file photo taken on Sunday Nov. 24, 2013, the Malian army patrol the streets of Gao, Northern Mali. A doctor in northern Mali says Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 that at least seven people have been killed and more than 50 wounded in an attack on an installation for various armed groups, and the toll is certain to rise.
A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden vehicle penetrated a camp in northern Mali on Wednesday, killing at least 60 people and wounding 115 soldiers and former fighters who are trying to stabilize the region. The attack marked a significant setback for peace efforts.
Suspicion quickly fell on the Islamic extremist groups operating in the area which oppose the 2015 peace agreement that brought the parties together. A Mauritanian news agency that frequently receives communications from extremist groups, Alakhbar, said a group linked to al-Qaida's North Africa branch, al-Mourabitoun, had claimed responsibility.