Apple fires Korean chief ahead of the iPhone 5 launch

Just days before the iPhone 5 is scheduled to launch in South Korea, Apple fired the chief of its business unit there. According to a report, Dominique Oh, hired only 17 months ago, was canned after supposedly sluggish sales. South Korea is important for Apple, as the Asian nation is home to its chief rival Samsung. Apple confirmed Oh’s contract was terminated, but said it could not address speculation on the reasoning behind the company’s decision…

The story published by The Korea Times newspaper also notes that Apple hired Oh just over a year and a half ago. He replaced Apple veteran Andrew Sedgwick, who had been the company’s man in Seoul for a decade.

An Apple spokesperson told the paper:

Apple terminated the contract with Oh last week. We acknowledge that there are many speculations surrounding Oh’s contract termination. But we can’t do more, it’s just a simple fact.

Prior to his stint with the iPhone maker, Oh served as a Vice President of LG’s Smartphone division, where he led work on Android and Windows Phone 7.

Earlier this month, Apple won a court stay, delaying a ban on sales of its iPhone and iPad in South Korea until an appeal is heard. In August, a South Korean court ruled both Apple and Samsung had violated each other’s patents, ordering a sales ban and damages.

And just this morning, Samsung denied a previous Korea Times story implicating the company was cutting LCD shipments amid an alleged pricing pressure on Apple’s part. “Samsung Display has never tried to cut the supply for LCD panels to Apple”, a spokesperson for the South Korean conglomerate said.

It’s a bit of a shame that Apple is so weak in Samsung’s home country, no?