In his Christmas Day 2009 column for the Korea Times, Michael Breen decided to lampoon such national newsmakers as President Lee Myung-bak and the pop idol Rain.
Headlined "What People Got for Christmas," the English-language column also poked fun at global technology giant Samsung Electronics, referring to past bribery scandals as well as perceptions that its leaders are arrogant.
The piece was meant as a satirical spoof, the columnist says, but Samsung wasn't laughing.
Breen's column ran as local media reported that President Lee would soon pardon Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee on a 2008 conviction for tax evasion. Chairman Lee, 68, had already received a federal pardon in the 1990s on a conviction for bribing two former presidents while he was with the firm.
On Dec. 29, the day of Lee's pardon, Samsung sued the freelance columnist, the newspaper and its top editor for $1 million, claiming damage to its reputation and potential earnings. After the Korea Times ran clarifications, the newspaper and its editor were dropped from the suit.
I wonder what will cause more "damage to its reputation and potential earnings," a column in a South Korea English-language paper read by few and understood by fewer, or a very public lawsuit making Samsung and its native country the object of ridicule?
A little more at Extra! Korea and Monster Island.