To say it has been an eminently forgettable couple of months for Samsung Electronics would be an understatement. As if the scrapping of the Galaxy Note 7 wasn’t enough of a public relations disaster for the South Korean firm, what has followed in the aftermath has made matters even worse. With many people expressing serious concerns over how the company is handling all the returns and refunds, Samsung is probably spending way more time, money and energy on the discontinued handset than it would want to. From the U.S. to South Korea, from Europe to China, Samsung has been trying to get back as many Galaxy Note 7 units from the public as possible so as to prevent any more ‘incidents’. Even then, some are proving very hard to please. Take the Chinese, for example.
Samsung’s smartphone market share in the country has been on a downward spiral over the past few years, and if the exploding phones weren’t bad enough for Samsung, the company’s local executives now seem to have irked many in the country by an action that may not necessarily strike people everywhere as particularly offensive. In an effort to show their gratitude towards Samsung's business partners in China for sticking with the company in its hour of crisis, around 20 South Korean and Chinese Samsung executives decided to kneel down on the stage and bow their heads at an event in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, on October 29th. It is this seemingly harmless – if admittedly, a bit over-the-top – gesture that has now reportedly infuriated many commentators on Chinese social media, who are interpreting it as yet another proof of Samsung’s arrogance and lack of respect for the Chinese culture.
According to some of the posts on popular Chinese social media sites, such as Weibo and Zhihu, Samsung executives should have been more aware of the cultural difference between South Korea and China before resorting to kneeling in front of an audience. That's because kneeling is apparently a practice not to be taken lightly in the country. It is generally associated with feudal societies of the past, and is strictly reserved for "parents, teachers, heroes, martyrs and virtuous ancestors" in modern-day China, according to at least one social media commentator. That being the case, Samsung Electronics once again finds itself in fire-firefighting mode, and is already trying to wash its hands off of the curious incident. The company released a statement to the media, saying that the gesture was a spontaneous one from its employees who were just overwhelmed by the response they got from the distributors at the event.