Kim Bu-gyeom, the incumbent Prime Minister of South Korea, wants to see Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong back in his seat as soon as possible. He openly said as much today in a statement given to the Financial Times. With the main implication being that any regulations standing in the way of Lee taking back the reigns at Samsung might not be standing for much longer.
Having served 19 months of his 30-month prison sentence, Lee was released on parole earlier this month. He was originally acquitted and then found guilty of bribing former Korean President Park Geun-hye in a retrial.
Lee’s case continues to divide the country
The case itself continues to divide the Far Eastern country, making Kim’s statement on the matter more than a little controversial. But the PM seems to be fully aware of that fact. Given how he has preemptively warned against “narrow-minded” criticism of Lee’s situation.
Echoing previous public advocacy efforts on Lee’s behalf, Kim argued that the current economic pressure warrants cutting the red tape standing in the way of Samsung’s leadership. The comment alluded to the growing competition in consumer electronics from China.
Exacerbated by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, that state of affairs has previously been highlighted as the number one argument for strengthening Samsung’s leadership domestically. Or not weakening it, in this instance. Current regulations could prevent Lee from resuming his duties as Samsung Group President and Samsung Electronics CEO for up to five years.
While Lee could have already taken his pick of high-profile advocates pushing for his full pardon, Kim is by far the most important figure that stood up in his public defense so far.