A Seoul court has rejected the warrant of arrest against Samsung’s Lee Jae-young. The Special Prosecutor announced his intention to pursue the warrant on Monday, coming to the conclusion that donations and deals made by Samsung were bribes to gain political favors.
On Wednesday, after hearing both sides, Seoul Central District Court Judge Cho Eui-yeon rejected the warrant citing a lack of evidence (CNN Money). In the decision, the court cited difficulty in determining if the money was in fact intended for a bribe or not in its decision to reject the warrant (Korea Post). Lee, however, will remain under speculation as the investigation into the scandal continues to move forward.
The news was a sign of good fortune for Samsung as it struggles with internal struggles as well as international issues. Currently, Lee is working to fill the vacuum left by his incapacitated father after a 2014 heart attack (Asia Times), and the company just released a report on the Galaxy Note 7 debocle, citing the battery as the reason for the phone catching on fire (Yonhap News). These issues have created a negative buzz around Samsung; the company, however, seems to be weathering the times.
As for Korea, the Samsung case highlights the difficulties in reigning in large, family companies also known as cheobol. Since President Park Chung-hee spurred South Korea’s economic growth in the 1960-1970s, large corporations such as Samsung have wielded tremendous power and policing them can be difficult.