ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iran on Thursday summoned South Korea’s ambassador after Iranian athletes at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games were not given the latest Samsung smartphone as a gift.
Earlier reports said 4,000 of the latest $1,100 Samsung mobile phones were handed out to athletes participating in the Winter Games but excluded those from Iran and North Korea due to sanctions against both countries.
Iran summoned South Korean ambassador Kim Seung-ho to the foreign ministry in Tehran shortly after and raised “a strong protest” over Samsung’s “dishonest conduct,” threatening “strong repercussions on commercial relations,” AFP reported.
Iranian-state media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi calling on the South Korean company to “apologize for its unwise action,” adding the snub would “greatly affect trade relations.”
There was no comment from the South Korean foreign ministry spokesperson about the matter, but Samsung said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was responsible.
The IOC later reversed the decision and said athletes from both countries would receive the smartphones.
An IOC spokesperson confirmed that Iranian athletes could keep their phones, but those from North Korea were “requested not to take the phones back to their home country.”
Unlike North Korea, Iran is not under any UN-related sanctions, so their involvement in the commotion was controversial as Samsung products are widely available for sale in the country where 18 million people own that brand of smartphone.
Tehran also shares good diplomatic ties and trade relations with South Korea who is hosting this year’s Winter Olympic Games scheduled to take place from Feb. 9 to 25 in Pyeongchang County.
Iran has sent four competitors to the 2018 Games.