Samsung isn't Japanese?
No, it’s not. It’s Korean
I’m really surprised by this one. There are so many people in the world who are perfectly familiar with large Korean companies, but do not know that they are in fact Korean companies. But we live in a world where people look at quality and price when they buy things, and the country in which it is made is usually
China the last thing on their mind. Even so, I was surprised to find this website, which talks about a study done on U.S. college students and the nationality of some well known companies. Students routinely got the identity of these companies wrong, but one part stuck out like a sore thumb.
55.7 percent of students thought South Korean automaker Hyundai was Japanese. A nearly identical number of respondents also thought Korean electronics maker Samsung was also Japanese. Most students thought LG — also from Korea — was American.
These are arguably Korea’s largest three companies, and it seems like consumers are really uninformed about that simple fact.
There are some in Korea who wish that these companies would do more to show that they are Korean, such as putting the Korean flag on their products, or writing the word “Korea” somewhere on the product, or advertising its association with Korea in ad campaigns, but the companies themselves have been reluctant.
I can somewhat understand why. There is a perception that Japan makes good, high-quality electronics. If people believe that Samsung is Japanese, then Samsung benefits from the reputations of Japanese companies like Toshiba and SONY. The problem is that if nothing is done to correct this perception, then even when Samsung evolves to create better products than its Japanese counterparts (such as it’s LED monitors and TVs), the reputation of the product adds to Japan’s reputation, not Korea’s. The cycle will simply perpetuate itself.
But there’s no real harm in that right? Who cares if people think Samsung is Japanese, as long as they give money to the Korean economy?
That’s very short term thinking. If Korean companies produce quality products and people know that they are Korean, then Korea will be more strategically placed for foreign investment and the like. This will be good for all Korean businesses, and the whole country. As it stands now, sure consumers may buy Korean products thinking that they are Japanese, but this only helps the companies of mistaken identity themselves.
Korean people seem to react with great surprise when they meet non-Koreans who think a Korean company is Japanese. Sometimes they get angry about it. I once saw a man on the subway talking to a young foreign guy and shouting, “NO! HYUNDAI is KOREAN!” like his life depended on it.
These same people would probably be surprised to know that LOTTE is in fact a Japanese company, even though most Koreans believe that it is undoubtedly Korean, because its owner is of Korean descent, and it has such a prominent presence in Korea.