Currently, South Korea
demands roughly 70% of its electricity from thermal coal and nuclear energy.
With increasing concerns over pollution and nuclear safety, president Moon Jae-In
and the new administration intend to invest more in renewable energy industries.
This December, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy will publish a plan with
environmental objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emission and increase investments
in renewable energy production (MTIE 2017). However, since South Korea lacks
natural resources and is heavily relying on imports, it leads to the question
whether a shift to environment-friendly energy generation is technically
feasible and fundable. Nevertheless, energy production is only one area that
South Korea must put more effort in to become more sustainable. According to
the OECD Better Life Index, South Korea ranks below the average in the line of
health, life satisfaction, and environment.1
On the other hand, according to the current results by the Global Innovation
Index, South Korea ranks 11th in the overall innovation capacity.
So, being one of the most R&D-intensive countries, it is worth discussing
whether Korea will use its innovative capacity to improve its environmental
performance.In regard to the planned (ecological)
change, it is evident that Samsung Group will play a significant role. The
South Korean conglomerate has a powerful influence on the country’s economic
development, accounting about 15% of South Korea’s entire economy. Samsung
Group consists of numerous affiliated business in various industries including construction,
electronics, insurance, transportation, retail, and shipbuilding. In Korea, its
presence has a strong impact on politics, media, and culture (Ullah 2017). Furthermore,
Samsung’s products affect the lives of millions of people worldwide. Therefore,
it is safe to assume that if Samsung’s products and practices become more eco-friendly
and sustainable, the easier will it be for its consumers to act more
sustainable. It is a fact that technology is enriching but also predominant in
society. The increasing use of technology in every aspect of life leads to the
question whether technologies can be put into practice adequately sustainably.In the second half of 2016,
Samsung’s most notable affiliate, Samsung Electronics, faced one of the biggest
fiascoes the mobile industry has seen. Having to recall the phablet twice,
Samsung suffered a financial and reputational loss. The incident provides an
opportunity to research what electronic companies can do better concerning
production, control and monitoring. It also raised the question who companies
deal with the waste they cause.The primary objective of
this paper is to demonstrate how Samsung Electronics failed to deal with the
issue in a reasonable, sustainable manner. For the analysis of this case,
first, general literature on sustainable development and sustainable business
practices will be discussed. Afterwards, it is explained how the information
was collected and why this particular case has been chosen. After that, a
summary of what happened with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, and how, from a
sustainable point of view, Samsung has dealt with the incident, is given. In this
context, all three dimensions of sustainability will be considered. Before
coming to a conclusion, it will be discussed what Samsung could have done
better.  

1 http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/korea/  checked on 17/12/2017

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