SEOUL (Reuters, AFP) - South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc, whose appliance chief has been indicted on a charge of purposely damaging Samsung Electronics Co Ltd washing machines, issued a video clip that it says shows the executive was merely testing its rival’s products in plain view at a store in Germany.
The video from the incident last September was released on YouTube days after Jo Seong Jin, the president of LG's home appliance division, and two other LG Electronics employees were indicted by South Korean prosecutors, escalating a bitter dispute between the cross-town peers.
In a nearly nine-minute video containing edited footage from surveillance cameras, Jo and other LG employees are seen touring a Samsung exhibit at a shop in Berlin. The officials are seen opening and closing the doors of appliances, with uniformed Samsung retail representatives sometimes looking on.
“There were many people around besides those I was on this business trip with, and Samsung workers were looking on right next to us,” Jo said in an accompanying statement.
“They would not have stood by had I deliberately damaged a washing machine.”
Jo vowed to prove his innocence. "I will reveal the truth in court," he said in the statement.
Samsung did not immediately comment.
The spat is the latest in a run of public disputes between the rivals. Soon after the incident, LG had agreed to pay for what it called accidental damage to four machines after mediation by German authorities, but it couldn’t resist taking a pot shot at the quality of its rival’s products.
Samsung railed against what it described as slanderous claims and filed a complaint. LG has counter-sued Samsung for defamation and forging evidence.
Mediation efforts by South Korean prosecutors failed to resolve the dispute, people familiar with the matter have said.
The footage provided by LG on YouTube shows Jo opening and closing the door of a Samsung washer several times. The executive is also seen pushing on the door vertically, but LG says that the actions are Jo’s routine tests on home appliances products.
“I apologise from the bottom of my heart once again to have unintentionally caused such trouble at a time of difficult economic conditions,” Jo said in a statement.
The two South Korean tech giants have been fierce competitors for years, but the washing machine spat has made things personal.
Samsung produces a range of electronic products and leads the global markets for mobile phones and flat-screen TVs. The smaller LG is one of the world's biggest manufacturers of home appliances, including refrigerators and washing machines.
The two have locked horns for years over patent issues and PR campaigns that include ads denigrating each other's products.
Last week prosecutors indicted four Samsung Display officials on charges of stealing LG Display's technology.