The story shows a very different kind of Samsung leadership than the one we see struggling with the current Galaxy Note 7 battery crisis. As recalled by Bloomberg in a 2013 story (and again by the NYT October 10):
“In 1995, [Samsung] Chairman Lee was dismayed to learn that cell phones he gave as New Year’s gifts were found to be inoperable. He directed underlings to assemble a pile of 150,000 devices in a field outside the Gumi factory. More than 2,000 staff members gathered around the pile. Then it was set on fire. When the flames died down, bulldozers razed whatever was remaining. ‘If you continue to make poor-quality products like these,’ Lee Keon Kyok recalls the chairman saying, ‘I’ll come back and do the same thing.'”
Sound drastic? Yes. Lee seems to have understood how hard and costly it is to gain consumer trust, and how easy it is to lose it.