One of a few things that the mighty Roman Empire could not produce was silk. Sericultural technique had been invented and monopolized by the ancient Chinese until some fragments of the classified technique were peppered throughout other parts of Asia and the Middle East. It was the Byzantine era during which the Europeans became able to produce silk. Thus, long before the Byzantine era, the Roman Empire had one very good reason to trade with China, the Han Dynasty back then. Silk was the most important import from China and hence the trade route was called the Silk Road.
China’s silk is an example of absolute advantage, one of the first concepts one would learn from Economics 101. Needless to say, the Han Empire and its successors protected the technique as an imperial asset so that they could enjoy the absolute advantage for long. Why? Because the asset that carries absolute advantage is the most lucrative among all assets. back then, although there did not exist the concept of intellectual property, the ancient people seemed to fully understand the value of intangible assets. Not surprisingly, whoever attempted to steal and sell the valuable intangible assets was punished as a traitor.
Now, as of 2017, South Koreans have more than one reason to lament over their government. The harshest critics of the Moon Jae-in administration claim that their new president behaves like a traitor when he lopsidedly sympathizes North Korea and looks for opportunities to financially aid the rouge state that is threatening its neighbors. Yes, Moon Jae-in’s foreign policy is particularly controversial. However, speaking of a traitor, we have another candidate. Let me introduce you Kang Byung-won, a former agriculture student who turned to a politician.
Kang entered politics in 2002 as an aide of the then presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun. During Roh’s presidency, he also served President Roh as a presidential secretary. He also served Moon Jae-in as a campaign staff for the 2012 presidential election in which Park Geun-hye defeated Moon. He continued to follow Moon as he joined the left-wing Democratic Party of Korea and took the post of deputy spokesperson. In May 2016, he won the first legislative election and became a lawmaker. Although Kang had remained low profile for nearly a decade, he was doubtlessly one of Moon’s most loyal henchmen.
Back in 2013, when an industrial accident lawsuit was filed against Samsung Semiconductor, the court ordered the company to submit the report on its operation and production to the Ministry. Also, the court ordered the Ministry not to publicly release it because it is Samsung Semiconductor’s trade secret.
In October 2016, as a lawmaker, Kang began to raise environmental concerns against Samsung Semiconductor, the core business of Samsung Electronics. Kang demanded the Ministry of Employment and Labor to release Samsung Semiconductor’s classified information. The Ministry rejected the demand based on the court order that designated the information as a “state industrial secret.”
However, Kang did not mind the court order and tenaciously demanded the trade secret. In late 2016, in the middle of the Candlelight Revolution demanding President Park’s resignation, Moon Jae-in was expected to be the next president and thus the most powerful man in South Korea. One example that shows how powerful Moon was is the re-installation of the Statue of Peace, aka the Comfort Woman’s Statue, in front of the Consulate General of Japan in Busan: in December 2016, the Busan Police removed the statue at the request of the Japanese Consulate General, but re-installed it three days later as Moon Jae-in who did not hold any public office at that time criticized the Busan Police. If Moon was powerful enough to ignore the official request of the Japanese Consulate General, how could a governmental body turn down the tenacious demand of his henchman? The Ministry submitted the 840-page report to Kang, on condition not to release it publicly.
In March 23, 2017, Kang released Samsung Semiconductor’s trade secret to the left-wing press, the Hankyoreh. Kang justified his action claiming, “The report contains no trade secret,” on the contrary to the court order. It is safe to assume that Kang is ignorant of the electronics industry considering his education and political career. However, since Kang has been very close to Moon, it is very unlikely he will be punished for the leak of the state industrial secret and the violation of the court order; he is currently a member of the Committee for the Eradication of Deep-rooted Evil, which tells us that he belongs to President Moon’s inner circle.
It is just a matter of time before Samsung’s competitors woill have one of the most lucrative trade secrets. Given the fact that the Moon Jae-in administration has already imprisoned the Samsung chairman Lee Jae-yong, my suspicion is that Kang intended to “screw” Samsung Electronics from the beginning. Perhaps it was the mission Moon appointed to Kang, or the merit Kang wanted to claim as the obvious anti-Samsung attitude was the norm within the Korean Left and the Democratic Party of Korea. Anyway, what Kang has done to Samsung would be the single hardest blow landed on the South Korean economy. Also, Not abiding by the court order but using his status as a lawmaker to serve Moon’s anti-Samsung cause, he has suggested that the only authority he fears is Moon Jae-in and he would despise anything else. Thus, I will save the title of traitor for this absurdly arrogant and ignorant figure.
Samsung Semiconductor carried one of the greatest absolute advantages in the history of Korea. Now it is leaked thanks to one self-righteous man. I do not think Samsung is dumb enough to stay in this hostile territory. To the Moon Jae-in administration, I would like to recite the anti-governmental slogan Moon’s supporters used to chant against Park Geun-hye: “What kind of country is this?”