Mr. Kim's one-man crusade makes him an anomaly in a Confucian society in which obedience to parents and teachers is ingrained in childhood. On a broader level, he's a pariah in a highly conservative culture in which employees at other companies deride him for betraying his bosses, the system – and, in a sense, the country, and the corporate structure that keeps it afloat.
So unthinkable was Kim's offense that the president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club, a Korean, repeatedly rejected requests by foreign correspondents to invite him as a speaker at the club.
All of which leads Kim to conclude, "Our society is so corrupt, and people are blindfolded because everyone is living well and people are greedy."
He sees Korea, dominated by Samsung, several other large chaebol, and scores of lesser ones, as forming a class structure as rigid and cumbersome as the caste system in India. "In Korea we thought there was no class anymore," he says. "We gained power, but now, in the sense of haves and less-haves, everyone is so crazy about money and power."
Kim has been deep in the muck of controversy ever since exposing massive corruption within the organization that paid him for seven years.
The furor has intensified of late as a result of sales of his bestselling book, "Thinking of Samsung" ("Samsungul Sanggak Handa"), a 474-page account of all of Samsung's wrongs that Sahoi Pyoungnon Publishing says has sold 150,000 copies so far.