The Rough Speech of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
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[Reporters’ Notebook] The Rough Speech of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong

▲ Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong.
[NewsCheonji = Reporter Som Lee] “Why are you asking me that?” As burst of laughter and the rough Speech came out of his mouth.

On the morning of the May 27, Jae-Yong Lee, the Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics was on his way to work at the Samsung Electronics Seocho Office. That was his response to the reporter’s questions about if there are “any plans to merge with other companies.”

While his father, the chairman of Samsung, Kun-hee Lee has been bedridden for over a year, the current hot issue is “Vice Chairman, Jae-yong Lee’s succession of management rights.” This has especially been the case since news broke out about the merge between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T. Due to this, the curiosity was amplified. There are even rumors of additional mergers between Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDS. This means the inquires about “the additional mergers,” posed to Vice Chairman Lee was a valid one grounded on recent relevant events.

Every Wednesday, dozens of reporters wait in the lobby to ask questions to the teams of presidents that attend these weekly meetings. Meaning, there was nothing out of ordinary about meeting reporters at that time and responding to the inquires presented after the meeting. Nevertheless, his answer exhibited irresponsibility.

The reporters throw numerous questions to the executive team. Depending on the issue, there may be sensitive questions asked. The president’s team also receive baffling questions, they avoid answering them by providing smiles or evading them by giving general answers.

Vice Chairman Lee could have reacted in the same way. However, he chose to allow his facial expression to exhibit shock and also staunchly replied, “Why are you asking me that?”

To whom then, should this question have been addressed?

The question of one reporter is not the question of a single individual. It is a question which represents the readers and the citizens. “The nature of a journalist is to be one who questions and the questions should have the ability to make people in power feel uncomfortable.” This view of the press is held by Helen Thomas, a White House journalist for over 50 years, spanning 10 presidents, from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. Her quote reminds us of the basics of the mindset of journalists. They sometimes have to blurt out inappropriate questions on behalf of the readers and citizens, being reporters who ask questions to get to the bottom of things.

Just as a reporter's question is essentially a question of the citizens, an answer a leader gives does not reflect that single individual. It represents the collective answer of the organization he/she heads, and it in turn becomes the image of the organization.

At the moment, no one sees him as the “vice chairman” any longer. If not him, who will be responsible for the future of Samsung? Who on the earth can give an answer to this question? As the following chairman, we expect him to be a bit more responsible and well- mannered.

I want to ask this question one more time, if not him, to whom should this question have been asked?

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