Welcome to the Republic of Samsung, Warts and All

Samsung is massive, but I didn’t know it was this massive.

If you live in South Korea, you could go through a whole day only using Samsung products and services.

In Vocativ’s video above, their reporter gets access to the company’s headquarters, Samsung Digital City, and that’s pretty much what it looks like—a city.

With 250,000 employees, it’s not surprising that it accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s economic output.

Despite what you might think, the South Korean behemoth is not just about electronic goods. Through its subsidiaries and affiliated businesses, it is also involved in advertising, insurance, the food industry, real estate, hospitals, and security, being just some examples.

Heck, they even make nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates, and are developing killer robots for the South Korean army.

Samsung is so big, the above video only touches on part of what it does. A more comprehensive look on what they do is below:

A bit of history

Owned by the Lee family, Samsung began its existence way back in 1938 as a food exporter, shipping products such as dried fish and flour to Manchuria and Beijing, says the company’s website.

According to an article by Reuters: “The founders of Samsung and Hyundai emerged from the ruins of the 1950-53 Korean War to help build a modern industrial state that has been dubbed ‘The Miracle on the Han.’”

But it wasn’t until the late 1990s that it began making and selling cell phones, which today are the most profitable side of its business.

As of last month, Samsung was the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume. It’s hard to find a correct up-to-date figure on how much the company is worth, but it is somewhere above $200 billion.

What they prefer you didn’t know

The above may sound all well and good, but the company has a somewhat shady history as well. There have been serious instances of corruption within the company, financial scandals, labor abuses in China (its suppliers), and price fixing.

And while Samsung first ventured into electronics in 1969, it wasn’t much about innovation or quality. Industry insiders say the company has a history of patent infringements, with the best known being its legal battles with Apple. It appears part of its game plan.

“When another company introduces a breakthrough technology, [Samsung would] muscle in with less expensive versions of the same product. And the strategy had worked, helping the Samsung Group to grow from almost nothing into an international behemoth,” wrote Kurt Eicenwald in an in-depth Vanity Fair article.

Don’t think I can add more to that, but I’m going to finish with this video below on how the global electronics industry in general has benefited from cheap labor in China. From a human rights perspective, it’s appalling.


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