back to article US exempts South Korean smartphones from Russia export bans

South Korea's Ministry of Trade has revealed that after discussions with the US Department of Commerce, the nation that is home to Samsung is confident that smartphones are exempt from new bans on exporting technology to Russia. Those bans were imposed in reaction to Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine. Technology firms have …

  1. Kabukiwookie

    WTF. Why does South Korea need approval from the US.

    Regardless if you feel.that sanctions on Russia are useful or not (they did get Apple to stop selling their crapware in their country, so that's a plus in my book).

    This essentially means that they're not a sovereign country, but a colony of the US, only existing at the behest of a foreign government.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm guessing here, but if a third country exports to another country already under sanctions then aren't sanctions imposed against that third country too?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Samsung et al presumably do trade in the US so have to comply with local laws in doing so. As such, they need to be careful and not violate any US sanctions from the parent company in case the US decides to cause them issues. I know from experience in UK banks, we're made aware of US sanctions & laws in internal training because breaking them could cause problems with doing busing in the US.

      1. Outski

        Same in law firms as well

    3. TiredNConfused80


      Samsung phones are (almost) 100% android, which is made by Google... Which is american. That might have something to do with it?

      It's entirely possible that the washing machines have US made components in them as well I guess (even the non "smart" ones).

    4. BOFH in Training

      I think if you break US sanctions, you will be sanctioned as well.

      Hence why Korea has to ask the US for permission to be allowed to trade in Russia, so that they can also keep trading in the US.

      It's same as me telling you that you can be a friend with me or my enemy X. And you have to discuss / negotiate with me to be friends to both of us. Or you can be a friend to only one of us.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, given the crapware found on Samsung phones, maybe they had to check the backdoors were up to date? In that case, I'd say the Americans would even have a degree of enthusiasm getting them into Russian hands as soon as possible.

      1. PriorKnowledge

        And the provably broken encryption implementation

        Who needs backdoors when the front door is already unlocked?

    6. prh99

      They don't need it, but falling afoul of sanctions would be really bad for their business so it's in their interest to make sure.

    7. Bitsminer Silver badge

      Why does South Korea need approval from the US.

      Because it contains US-made parts or software. And anything and everything made in USA is subject to US export controls.

      Most items, for example consumer items, have a simple exemption called EAR99. Otherwise, a license is required.


      for the rules.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. I'm not a huge fan of the U.N., but isn't this the sort of thing that it is supposed to take care of, instead of leaving everyone kowtowing to the US's decisions?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        "I'm not a huge fan of the U.N., but isn't this the sort of thing that it is supposed to take care of,"

        No. The U.N. does not have the authority to decide what sanctions you use. They wouldn't be supposed to do that anyway because they aim for neutrality. So on no account would the U.N. get involved in what is sanctioned and what isn't other than votes to approve or disapprove which everyone votes on and nobody cares about afterword.

        "instead of leaving everyone kowtowing to the US's decisions?"

        South Korea is an American ally. They can ignore the U.S.'s decisions, but they choose not to. The U.S. is going to do what it wants and South Korea has chosen to work inside it rather than go on its own, which it would be perfectly in its rights and able to do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "They wouldn't be supposed to do that anyway because they aim for neutrality."

          Eh, that wasn't what they did in 1990 when Hussein went into Kuwait. There were lots of rounds of condemnation by (most of) the UN members, then the war - led by the US, but under the auspices of the UN. Why is it any different this time?

          If Russia's veto power has effectively neutered the UN in this instance, then the UN as a whole is a useless sham that has wasted billions/trillions of contributed tax dollars over the past 70 years.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            There are a lot of parts and powers of the United Nations. The sanction regime against Iraq was implemented by the UN Security Council, which voted 13 to 0 in favor of a set of sanctions. That is a strong vote. A vote of that nature would fail now because Russia has a right to veto resolutions in the UNSC. The general assembly, where they cannot do that, doesn't have as much power as the Security Council does. Had one of the permanent members vetoed the Iraqi sanctions, Iraq would probably still have been sanctioned by the others, just without the UNSC stamp of approval. The fact that all five permanent members and eight other countries thought they were warranted only strengthened the coalition.

            I am not here to defend the UN's effectiveness. It is a bureaucratic system with advantages and disadvantages, and because it relies on member countries to do everything, it is weak. For example, even when it passed the sanctions on Iraq, some members could opt not to follow them. It also doesn't get to decide on its own what sanctions are legitimate (the sanctions on Iraq were proposed by UN members, but only gained UN force after members voted to support them). The UN is not a final arbitration system, nor a world government, nor anything else that would give it the power to decide that one sanction is legitimate and force the revocation of another. It is a system for coordinating international action only.

      2. MarcEsc

        characterizing a broad coalition (of mostly European countries) that also includes South Korea which decided to sanction Russia for a flagrantly outrageous invasion … as "kowtowing to the US's decision" is a pretty bizarre leap.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not really. The Koreans were basically asking the US's permission to continue selling stuff to Russia. Which is pretty much kowtowing to the US's decision, since Korea is supposedly a sovereign state, innit? Could they not have decided on their own whether or not to continue exporting items to Russia?

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            "The Koreans were basically asking the US's permission to continue selling stuff to Russia. Which is pretty much kowtowing to the US's decision, since Korea is supposedly a sovereign state,"

            You misunderstand. Basically, what happened boils down to this:

            Korea: If we export phones, will you be angry with us?

            U.S.: No, that's fine with us.

            Korea: Would you mind making that official?

            U.S.: We'll write it in the sanction description.

            Korea: Thanks.

            They can do whatever they want. They wanted the U.S. to support their action, and the U.S. did so. Had the U.S. disagreed, Korea could export anyway and deal with any complaints raised by the Americans.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Agreed. I'm not a huge fan of the U.N., but isn't this the sort of thing that it is supposed to take care of"

        Not when any of the permanent Members of The Security Council have a veto, eg Russia.

    9. MarcEsc

      "Why does South Korea need approval from the US."

      You might as well ask why Ukraine needs approval from Russia to do any number of things, including pursuing trade, political, and defense deals with the rest of Europe.

      At least the worst South Korea might face from the US would be a stern letter and some fines … whereas the country you seem to be deflecting for threw a massive hysterical fit, pretended to do military exercises, then invaded and began to systematically destroy Ukraine.

      Besides, I would think South Korea can empathize far more with Ukraine than Russia, as a country also threatened by crazy people on a daily basis, and that has in the past been invaded by bigger neighbors. Heck, it's not just complying with US sanctions … South Korea has imposed its on.

    10. Dasreg

      I advise you and your troops to leave Egypt now

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "it is therefore entirely conceivable that Russian troops will enjoy uniforms tumbled in LG's new software-defined clothes dryer"

    Providing they can still get into them when they come out three sizes smaller.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Surely we want non-Russian phones in use in Russia?

    Surely we should be stepping-up exports of back-doored phones to Russians. Then those that were sold in Russia but then travel into Ukraine can silently report their position. Or self-destruct. After all, we know that Samsung has perfected the latter capability already.

  4. xpclient

    You have to understand India's position here and US should not put India in an uncomfortable position by unnecessary sanctions. First, India is surrounded by Pakistan and China - two nations which have extremely hostile relations to India. Kashmir is a territorial conflict land with Pak as is Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh with China. China is the all-powerful nation here - by military strength, technology and economy. India's military strength cannot match big powers like China, Russia or United States or NATO. If India were to alienate Russia, Russia would become BFFs with China and India would have no ally left to send them weapons to defend themselves against China.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      > and India would have no ally left to send them weapons to defend themselves against China.

      But the UK would love to sell you weapons. And now that Mark Thatcher has retired I'm sure that one Andy Windsor could step into the breach? Becoming a merchant of death would probably improve his PR situation.

  5. Snake Silver badge

    Making things easier

    I've been holding off buying a new cell phone, required by my telco, for a few months now. I generally don't like Samsung because of the telemetry and software bloat but the A52 had the hardware specs (water rated, Gorilla Glass 5) that I need.

    I had come to the conclusion that I would end up with the A52 and then spend time deboating under ADB.

    Well, not any more. Thanks South Korea and Samsung, you've made my (reluctant) initial choice of your products very easy for me to utterly discard. I will likely end up with the locally-grown brand instead.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Making things easier

      So, you're a Sprint customer. What phone are you planning to purchase? I'm in the same boat with a Galaxy S7 that has started to have SIM problems (no to mention that its networks are being decomm'd).

  6. Richard Boyce


    I think everyone's aware that China sells phones, cars and white goods, and would benefit at South Korea's expense. Samsung also is one of the major chip manufacturers of the world and those are in very tight supply right now. Realpolitik.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    So wait a minute...

    South Korea already has extreme experience with militaristic assholes on their border, and they constantly whinge about it... but they're not willing to help out another nation in a similar situation that's actually being invaded?

    I say we let North Korea have them.

    Edit: and they've already told the Ukraine to fuck off about satellite imagery.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: South Korea

      Sadly, a lot of South Korea's political & capital society has a proven history of putting money over lives (Sampoong, MV Sewol). A government as toppled because of this; sad to say, should we expect anything less from them now?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Snake - Re: South Korea

        According to you, a free, independent country can not chose to remain neutral and must instead take orders from US ? I'd say it's an interesting view. In this case a US appointed governor would do just fine instead of any other democratic institution. That would spare countries of unnecessary expenses and the world would be a better place.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: @Snake - South Korea

          "According to you, a free, independent country can not chose to remain neutral and must instead take orders from US"

          That's not what they said and you know it. They disagree with what South Korea is doing and has done. They did not say that South Korea's right to do so should be revoked. I disagree with your choice to make blatant misstatements in service of a national stereotype, but nonetheless I would object if you were banned for saying what you did.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Snake - Re: South Korea

        Just try and convince me US is not doing all this for money. Let's imagine for a second how profitable would be for them if Russia trashes half of Europe.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: @Snake - South Korea

          Are you CRAZY?

          You anti-American AC's are rabid. Listen to yourself! 'The U.S. will make SO much profit once Russia trashes half of Europe!'.

          You'll say ANYTHING, even something completely irrational, just to forward your personal pro-Europe, anti-America agenda. That's the STUPIDEST statement I think I've heard out of a Regtard in a long time, and note that nickname has now become true with you.

  8. crayon

    "Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine"

    "The US has previously used secondary sanctions"

    Which are also illegal, doubly so as even primary sanctions are illegal unless authorised by the UN. Of course countries like that have never let trifles like legality get in the way of their aggression - just in the 21st century: illegal aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and dozens of other countries.

  9. julian.smith
    Big Brother

    It doesn't matter

    The phones are ultimately priced in either WON or USD

    The Ruble has basically evaporated

    In a week:

    - the RUB/USD rate has gone from 70 to 120 and the decline is accelerating

    - interest rates have gone from 9.5% to 20%

    Russians are staring into an inflationary abyss - getting the latest shiny is the least of their worries

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't rule by sanction what Microsoft did?

    Am I the only one who can't help thinking of a connection between the West's attempts to fix the world by sanctions and Microsoft's attempts to suppress Linux by threatening any dealer that sold dual-boot PCs with withdrawal of their Windows licences? Of course there is a big difference in what the sanctions are trying to achieve, but the superficial similarity seems spooky.

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