Lee Kun-hee Wiki – Biography
Lee Kun-hee was a South Korean businessman who served as chairman of the Samsung Group from 1987 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2020. He was also a member of the International Olympic Committee. With an estimated family net worth of US$40.8 billion, and the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, he and his family were among the richest people in the world as calculated by Forbes.
He resigned in April 2008, owing to a Samsung slush funds scandal, but returned on 24 March 2010. In May 2014, he was hospitalized for a heart attack. In 2014, Lee was named the world’s 35th most powerful person and the most powerful Korean by Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful people along with his son Lee Jae-yong.
Lee Kun-hee helped to grow his father’s small trading business into an economic powerhouse, diversifying into areas like insurance and shipping.
During his lifetime, Samsung Electronics also became one of the world’s biggest tech firms.
He was the richest person in South Korea, according to Forbes, with a net worth of nearly $21bn (£16bn).
Mr Lee was the third son of Lee Byung-chul, who founded Samsung Group in 1938. He joined the family firm in 1968 and took over as chairman in 1987 after his father’s death.
At the time, Samsung was seen as a producer of cheap, low-quality products. But under his leadership radical reforms were introduced at the company.
Mr Lee became famous for telling employees in 1993: “Let’s change everything except our wives and kids.” The firm then burned its entire mobile phone stock, consisting of 150,000 handsets.
Mr Lee rarely spoke to the media and had a reputation for being a recluse, earning him the nickname “the hermit king”.
Samsung is by far the largest of South’s Korea’s chaebols – the family-owned conglomerates that dominate the country’s economy.
Chaebols helped to drive South Korea’s economic transformation after World War Two, but have long been accused of murky political and business dealings.
Mr Lee was twice convicted of criminal offences, including the bribing of former President Roh Tae-woo.
He stepped down as Samsung chairman in 2008 after he was charged with tax evasion and embezzlement. He was handed a three-year suspended jail sentence for tax evasion but was given a presidential pardon in 2009 and went on to lead South Korea’s successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
He returned as chairman of Samsung Group in 2010, but was left bedridden by the 2014 heart attack.
Mr Lee’s son, Lee Jae-yong, has served jail time for his role in a bribery scandal which triggered the ousting of then-President Park Geun-hye from office in 2017. Last month, prosecutors laid fresh charges against him over his role in a 2015 merger deal.
Lee Kun-hee was born on 9 January 1942 in Daegu, during the Japanese occupation of Korea. He was the third son of Lee Byung-chul, the founder of the Samsung group, which was set up as exporter of fruit and dried fish. He went on to get a degree in economics from Waseda University, a private university in Japan, and a business degree from the George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Lee Kun-hee Age
Lee Kun-hee has died at the age of 78-years-old.
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Cause of Death
Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, who transformed the South Korean firm into a global tech titan, died at the age of 78 on Sunday, the company said.
Under Lee’s leadership, Samsung rose to become the world’s largest producer of smartphones and memory chips, and the firm’s overall turnover today is equivalent to a fifth of South Korea’s GDP.
Samsung’s meteoric rise helped make Lee South Korea’s richest and most powerful industrialist.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Kun-hee Lee, Chairman of Samsung Electronics,” the company said in a statement.
“Chairman Lee passed away on October 25 with his family, including Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, by his side.
“Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business,” the firm said, adding: “His legacy will be everlasting.”
Samsung is by far the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates, or chaebols, that dominate business in South Korea.
They drove the nation’s transformation from a war-ravaged ruin to the world’s 12th-largest economy, but nowadays are accused of murky political ties and stifling competition — with Lee himself twice convicted of criminal offences, in one case bribing a president.