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Samsung sets up independent quality control gatekeeper

South Korean company hopes to rebuild brand image by ensuring quality

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics said Thursday that it has created an office for global quality control management in an effort to prevent debacles like the one that befell its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last year.

The office comes under direct control of Vice Chairman and CEO Kwon Oh-hyun, the group's second-most-powerful person after Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto chief of the conglomerate who was arrested on corruption and other charges last month.

The new organization will be headed by Kim Jong-ho, a product quality management expert who oversaw the South Korean electronics giant's smartphone production for years. Kim possesses a wealth of expertise and knowledge in quality control from his involvement in various manufacturing operations. For the past year, he led the production division at Samsung Heavy Industries, a major player in the global shipbuilding industry.

The office will add a new layer of checks, since it will independently examine product designs and manufacturing processes, in addition to conducting a final inspection to ensure quality. Under the previous system, each division manufacturing such products as smartphones and white goods handled quality control by itself in cooperation with factories.

But this system failed the company. The flagship Galaxy Note 7 made headlines around the world after faulty batteries led the devices to spontaneously combust. To add insult to injury, safety concerns led to a recall of Samsung washing machines in the U.S. soon after.

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