By Mohammad Al Tuwaijri, HSBC

Over the last half century, the Middle East has been a cornerstone in South Korea’s rapid economic development, or what has become known as the ‘miracle on the Han river’ – a reference to the waterway that carves its way through Seoul.

Korean expertise in fields such as transportation, construction and technology can help the Middle East accelerate towards a future beyond oil. The relationship has deep historical roots. Read more

Samsung Group “is not a legal entity”, we read on the website of Samsung Electronics. Rather, it is merely “a term to conveniently refer to a group of companies tied together by their corporate history”.

This has not stopped Samsung Asset Management from creating an exchange-traded fund made up of shares in various members of the quasi-existent South Korean group, ranging from mighty Samsung Electronics to less celebrated bearers of the brand such as Samsung Fine Chemicals and Samsung Techwin. Read more

India has overtaken Japan to become the world’s third largest market for smartphones, joining China and the US on the podium.

In some ways, it’s unsurprising. With a population of over a billion people India is bound eventually to be among the largest markets for pretty much anything. What is interesting is how Indians are using their phones – and the local handset makers that are seeing lightning fast growth. Read more

When it comes to passion for their children’s education, South Korean parents have few rivals. They will often go to extreme lengths to secure the best education for their offspring, in a society where academic credentials generally take precedence over other merits.

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s heir, is no exception. He had to issue an apology on Thursday amid growing controversy over his son’s entrance to one of the country’s top prep schools. Read more

The Samsung saga involving a toxic chemical leak at its major chipmaking factory doesn’t seem to be over yet.

South Korea’s environment ministry said on Tuesday that it will investigate the incident to see if some hydrofluoric acid was leaked to the outside of the plant and whether Samsung’s safety facilities are well maintained to protect its workers from toxic chemicals. Read more

Relations between Samsung and Apple reached a low point last year as they squared off in intellectual property disputes on four continents.

But this week gave the rivals something to bond over: each company reported strong growth in smartphone sales, only to watch investors rush for the exit. Read more

Fines handed down on Friday by China’s anti-trust body to Korean giants Samsung and LG and four smaller Taiwanese manufacturers are a clear sign that China is getting tough on price fixing and other anti-competitive behaviour. Foreign companies can now expect the same treatment in China as they get in the US and Europe. Read more

The commercial success of the iPhone 5, despite some criticism that it lacks new features, is clearly a threat to Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone producer.

So, to divert consumers’ attention away from Apple’s launch last week, Samsung on Wednesday introduced its latest smartphone model Galaxy Note II into the Korean market and will start selling it abroad next month. Read more

Lee Kun-hee, the 70-year-old chairman of Samsung Electronics and South Korea’s richest man, will have food for thought after the company’s legal defeat by Apple in California last Friday. But developments closer to home could soon give him a new headache: lawmakers are seeking to tackle the complex shareholding structures through which the founding families of South Korea’s chaebol conglomerates keep their grip on their corporate empires. Read more

With the shock of the Apple-Samsung verdict still reverberating around the smartphone world, here comes a sharp reminder of the fact while these two giants may have their problems, life is much harder for their competitors.

Shares in Foxconn International Holdings (FIH) plunged on Tuesday after it reported a record first-half net loss. The company, the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision, is only one chunk of the Taiwanese parent group’s empire. It’s not the bit that works for Apple: FIH’s customers are Apple’s hard-pressed rivals, led by Nokia. Enough said. Read more

Samsung won a partial victory against Apple in South Korea in its legal battle over technology patients but that failed to lift the company’s stock price.

Samsung’s shares extended losses on Friday, closing down 0.93 per cent at Won1.275m on heavy foreign selling. The shares had gone up more than 20 per cent for about a month since hitting a trough of Won1.09m in mid-July but they have fallen about 5 per cent over the past two weeks. Read more

These are not happy days for Apple in China. The iconic American brand, outpaced by Samsung in its appeal among Chinese consumers since last year, is now also losing out to other smartphone competitors.

According to IDC, Apple’s share of the Chinese smartphone market by shipments fell by nearly half to 10 per cent in the second quarter from three months earlier. The company came fourth in a ranking topped by Samsung and Lenovo, the Chinese company that is also the world’s second-largest PC vendor. Read more

Taiwan’s HTC can’t get a break.

Sales are falling, low-cost mainland competitor Xiaomi just released a phone whose specs are competitive with a high-end HTC model, and on Monday the company announced a $40m write off on its stake in an internet gaming company. What’s a company to do? Read more

“Isn’t MI2 so bloody cool?” With this question Lei Jun, China’s most prominent angel investor and founder of the country’s most ambitious homegrown smartphone brand Xiaomi, launched his new device this week.

If the fans screaming enthusiastically in response are any indication, Apple could face a new challenger in China. While the immediate worry is Samsung,  Xiaomi too could become a real threat. Read more

An apparent victory for Whirlpool, the US appliance manufacturer, over South Korean rivals on Wednesday.

In a preliminary finding announced on Wednesday by the US Commerce Department, Whirlpool’s claim that its South Korean rivals were selling washers in the US for less than production costs was accepted. The company argued that Korean manufacturers have benefited from unfair government subsidies. Read more

Will Samsung’s latest smartphone Galaxy S III become the iPhone killer? It may be too early to say but the new phone, which was launched in London earlier this month amid much fanfare, looks likely to become another big hit for the South Korean company. Read more

Is LG Electronics ready to fight back in the fast-growing smartphone market? The South Korean company, a latecomer to the higher-margin end of the phone business, has struggled to defend its market share in the fast-changing market due to a lack of popular smartphone models.

But its latest smartphone called the Optimus LTE II, which was launched in its domestic market, could help the company reverse its sliding fortunes. LG has pinned high hopes on smartphones running on the high-speed LTE (long-term evolution) networks as the demand grows for higher data speeds. Read more

The results of last year’s smartphone battle show pretty clearly from the first-quarter fortunes of Samsung and HTC. While Samsung posted record profits and  overtook Nokia to become the world’s biggest seller of mobile phones, HTC saw its profits fall 70 per cent, the most in a decade.

Could this year see Samsung consolidate its lead? Did Wednesday’s launch of Samsung’s latest Galaxy S3 smartphone deal another, perhaps fatal, blow to HTC, which introduced its 2012 model – the One family of smartphones – three months ago? Read more

Whether you are on the train in London, Hong Kong or New York, there’s one thing you’ve probably seen a lot more of in the last 6 months: Samsung Galaxy phones.

Sure enough, the SII – South Korea’s challenger to the iPhone – and its over-sized brother, the Note, have helped Samsung conquer the mobile phone market, according to the latest company figures and analyst estimates. Read more

Photo: Bloomberg

A feud inside South Korea’s richest family is turning into a public soap opera as Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung (pictured), hurls vitriol at his siblings and they hurl it back. The row is unlikely to do any damage to Samsung Electronics or other companies in the group. The same cannot be said of family members’ reputations. Read more