The company said Lee Kin-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics, who transformed the Korean company into a global technology giant, died on Sunday at the age of 78.
Under Lee’s leadership, Samsung has become the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips. The company’s total turnover today is equivalent to one-fifth of South Korea’s GDP.
The rapid rise of Samsung helped Lee Kuan Yew become South Korea’s richest man and most powerful industrialist.
The company said in a statement: “We are very sorry to announce the death of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kin Hee.”
Chairman Li said: “Chairman Li died on October 25th with his family, including Vice Chairman Jay Lee.
The company said: “Chairman Lee is really a visionary who transformed Samsung from a local company to a world-leading innovator and industrial power.” He added: “His legacy will be eternal.”
Samsung is by far the largest consortium among family businesses dominated by Korean business.
They promoted the country’s transformation from war-torn ruins to the world’s 12th largest economy, but are now accused of blurring political relations and stifling competition-Lee himself was twice convicted of criminal offences, one of which was bribing the president.
When Lee inherited the chairmanship of Samsung Group in 1987, Samsung Group was established by his father as an exporter of fish and fruits. At that time, Samsung was already the largest conglomerate in Japan, with businesses ranging from consumer electronics to construction.
However, it is regarded as a counterfeit producer of cheap, low-quality products.
Li said in 1993: “Let us change, except for our wives and children.”
The company collected and burned all 150,000 phones in its inventory, paving the way for the highly successful “Anycall” phones.
Under Lee’s leadership, Samsung became a global behemoth: By the time of a heart attack in 2014, Samsung had become the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips, and a major manufacturer of semiconductors and LCDs.
Lee rarely speaks to the media, but whenever he breaks the long silence, he is often closely monitored, often with a heavy New Year’s company speech.
Since his heart attack in 2014, his son Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, has been in charge of the company.
Although Mr. Lee has great wealth and power, he rarely ventures to visit the company headquarters from the high walls of a private compound in the center of Seoul, thus earning the nickname “The Hermit King”.
Lee is the third son of Lee Byung-chull, the founder of Samsung Group. He has a soft spot for dogs-he grew up in Japan as a child and went to school since he was 11. He is also known for his love of movies, horse riding and exotic supercars.
He studied at the prestigious Waseda University in Japan and obtained an MBA degree from George Washington University in the United States.
He became the vice chairman of the group’s construction and trading department at the age of 36, and became the chairman of the group nine years after the death of his father.
Li is married to Hong Ra-hee (his father is the Minister of Justice), and he has one son and three daughters.
Bribery, embezzlement of public funds, tax evasion
The political and business worlds are intertwined in South Korea, and this connection is reflected in Lee’s career.
In 1996, he was convicted of bribing former President Roh Tae-woo (Roh Tae-woo) to win Samsung’s favor in business policy decisions.
In a huge funding scandal in 2008, Li was also convicted of embezzlement of public funds and tax evasion, which temporarily separated him from the company’s leadership.
But probation means that he has never served his sentence in jail. He received two presidential pardons, which continued to drive the country’s successful efforts to ensure the 2018 Winter Olympics.
A few years later, he filed a lawsuit against his brother and sister, claiming that they were entitled to billions of dollars worth of Samsung stock.
After the heart attack, he has been receiving medical care, but details about his condition are rarely revealed. Even in his last days, he was shrouded in mystery.