Samsung Creates Diplomatic Incident By Handing Out Free Phones At Winter Olympics

Samsung certainly went into this with good intentions. The company wanted to gift athletes as they arrived at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang with slick new Olympic Edition Galaxy Note 8 phones. Instead the company finds itself in the midst of an international diplomatic dispute over sanctions.

Heavy duty sanctions the U.N. has levied against Iran and North Korea prohibit Samsung from sharing technology with citizens of the country. The snub was particularly galling to Iranian representatives who demanded an appearance and apology from South Korea’s ambassador, according to CNN.

“The athletes didn’t receive phones when they arrived in Korea. The reason given was because of sanctions,” Mahmoud Abdollahi, spokesman for the Iranian Olympic Committee, said. “The issue is that Iranian athletes were not treated equally and this goes against the spirit of the games.”

Phones were soon issued to athletes from both countries, however the North Korean athletes will need to give up their phones before returning to their country.

The tiff comes at a time when Samsung is trying to court the Iranian market of more than 80 million people, opening a new sales center in February.

“The ambassador was cautioned at the meeting that if Samsung does not apologize for its ‘unwise’ move, the issue will seriously affect trade relations of the Korean company with Iran,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying.

Those $1,100 phones are causing quite a stir.

Featured image: Samsung 


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