Note on Sources: The Downfall of the Samsung Empire

ABRIDGED VERSION:

Samsung employees worldwide are not allowed to speak to the press without authorization from the company’s corporate communications team. Therefore, I owe those who had been willing to speak to me both on-the-record and on background my deepest gratitude. Those who spoke on-the-record were not identified in the story to prevent a process of elimination. This story wouldn’t have been possible without their cooperation, especially those who are based in Seoul and agreed to talk despite the language barrier. As part of the narrative, this story includes many dialogues. To explain the use of dialogue, I’d like to paraphrase James B. Stewart’s “note on sources” at the end of his book, “DisneyWar”: I have included passages of dialogue to enhance the narrative, but while some of these may have come from direct interviews with me, many of them occurred before an audience—though one or both of the speakers may not have been aware of those listening in. Recollected dialogue is also only as reliable as human memory, and readers should not assume that these are verbatim transcripts.


 

FULL VERSION:

Samsung employees worldwide are not allowed to speak to the press without authorization from the company’s corporate communications team. Therefore, I owe those who had been willing to speak to me both on-the-record and on background my deepest gratitude. Those who spoke on-the-record were not identified in the story to prevent a process of elimination. This story wouldn’t have been possible without their cooperation, especially those who are based in Seoul and agreed to talk despite the language barrier.

As part of the narrative, this story includes many dialogues. I would strongly caution readers against making the assumption that just because the dialogue or idea is attributed to a single individual, that the individual is a direct source. Often times, the best dialogues are the ones that were overheard, made in a private setting or in other situations and circumstances that may differ from where readers may assume it came from. Inspired by Nicolas Carlson’s reporting, I’d like to quote James B. Stewart’s “note on sources” at the end of his book, “DisneyWar“.

Stewart’s reporting style helped shape my own in the process of writing this story, and I’d like to quote his use of sources in dialogues to help explain my own.

“As part of the narrative, I have included passages of dialogue. Dialogue— what words were said— is a fact like any other. It is not necessarily a quotation from an interview with me and I would discourage readers from inferring that one or both of the speakers is a direct source. Especially in today’s world of instant communication, it is sometimes amazing how many people turn out to be privy to what others may assume is a private conversation. Many of the conversations reported in this book either took place before an audience or became known to a wide circle of people, often within minutes of their taking place. … In a few cases other people were listening in on speakerphones, extensions, or overheard conversations without one or both of the speakers’ knowledge. Readers should bear in mind that, given the vagaries of human memory, remembered dialogue is rarely the same as actual recordings and transcripts. At the same time, it is no more nor less accurate than many other recollections.”

I’d also like to thank those who read through multiple drafts of this story as it took shape, including my editors and researchers. Jane Gardner was also instrumental in helping me edit this story.

Lastly and most importantly, thank you all for reading this story.