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Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee Dies at 78

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Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, who reworked the South Korean agency into a worldwide tech titan, died on the age of 78 on Sunday, the corporate mentioned.

Beneath Lee’s management, Samsung rose to grow to be the world’s largest producer of smartphones and reminiscence chips, and the agency’s general turnover right this moment is equal to a fifth of South Korea’s GDP.

Samsung’s meteoric rise helped make Lee South Korea’s richest and strongest industrialist.

“It’s with nice disappointment that we announce the passing of Kun-hee Lee, Chairman of Samsung Electronics,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement.

“Chairman Lee handed away on October 25 along with his household, together with Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, by his facet.

“Chairman Lee was a real visionary who reworked Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from an area enterprise,” the agency mentioned, including: “His legacy will likely be eternal.”

Samsung is by far the most important of the family-controlled conglomerates, or chaebols, that dominate enterprise in South Korea.

They drove the nation’s transformation from a war-ravaged destroy to the world’s 12th-largest financial system, however these days are accused of murky political ties and stifling competitors — with Lee himself twice convicted of legal offences, in a single case bribing a president.

World energy
When Lee inherited the chairmanship of the Samsung group in 1987 — based by his father as a fish and fruit exporter — it was already the nation’s largest conglomerate, with operations starting from shopper electronics to development.

But it surely was seen as a shoddy producer of low-cost, low-quality merchandise.

“Let’s change all the pieces besides our wives and youngsters,” Lee mentioned in 1993.

The corporate gathered up and burnt all 150,000 cell phones it had in inventory, paving the way in which for the rebirth of the extremely profitable “Anycall” handset.

With Lee on the helm, Samsung grew to become a worldwide behemoth: by the point he suffered a coronary heart assault in 2014, it was the world’s greatest maker of smartphones and reminiscence chips, and a significant participant in semiconductors and LCDs.

Lee not often spoke to the media, however was carefully watched every time he broke his lengthy silences, typically with doom-laden New Yr company addresses.

His son, Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, has been on the helm of the corporate because the 2014 coronary heart assault.

‘Hermit king’
Regardless of his immense wealth and energy, Lee seldom ventured out from the excessive partitions of his non-public compound in central Seoul to go to the corporate headquarters, incomes him the nickname “hermit king”.

Lee, the third son of Samsung group founder Lee Byung-chull, had a mushy spot for canines — developed as a toddler in Japan the place he went to high school from age 11. He was additionally identified for his love of flicks, horseriding and unique supercars.

He studied at Japan’s prestigious Waseda College and earned an MBA at George Washington College in america.

He grew to become vice chairman of the group’s development and buying and selling arm on the age of 36, and have become group chairman 9 years later, shortly after his father’s dying.

Lee married Hong Ra-hee — whose father was a justice minister — with whom he had a son and three daughters.

Bribes, embezzlement, tax evasion
The worlds of politics and enterprise have been intertwined in South Korea, and the connection was mirrored in Lee’s profession.

In 1996, he was convicted of bribing former president Roh Tae-woo to get favours for Samsung in enterprise coverage selections.

Lee was additionally discovered responsible of embezzlement and tax evasion in a slush fund scandal in 2008, which noticed him briefly step down from the corporate management.

However suspended sentences meant he by no means served time in jail and he obtained two presidential pardons, occurring to spearhead his nation’s profitable efforts to safe the 2018 Winter Olympics.

A number of years later, he fought off a lawsuit from his older brother and sister claiming they had been entitled to Samsung shares price billions of {dollars}.

He had been in medical care after his coronary heart assault, however few particulars had been ever revealed about his situation, leaving him shrouded in thriller even in his last days.

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