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Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee dies at 78

By Kim Hyun-bin

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who built the company into the nation's largest conglomerate and a global technology titan, died in Seoul, Sunday, after years of hospitalization.

He was 78 years old.

Late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee
Late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Lee Kun-Hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics. Chairman Lee passed away on Oct. 25 with his family, including Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, by his side," Samsung said in a statement Sunday. "All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him. Our deepest sympathies are with his family, relatives and those nearest. His legacy will be everlasting."

Lee's funeral service has been set up at Samsung Seoul Hospital.

"The funeral procedures has been simplified with only the deceased family members and relatives scheduled to take part," the company said. "We kindly refuse condolence calls and flowers."

Lee suffered a heart attack in May 2014 and since then he had been battling respiratory difficulties.

Sources say that the chairman was capable of breathing on his own without life support equipment but never fully recovered from the stroke.

Born in 1942 in Daegu, Lee took the helm of Samsung Group on Dec. 1, 1987, following his father Lee Byung-chull, founder of the conglomerate, and becoming the second chairman of the corporate titan.

The chairman was the seventh child and the youngest son of Lee Byung-chull, who had three sons and five daughters.

According to the company statement, Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into a world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business. His 1993 declaration of "New Management" was the motivating driver of the company's vision to deliver the best technology to help advance global society.

Lee's first trademark business philosophy, known as the "New Management Initiative," has been embraced by Samsung as a preamble to date. His vision for the future consisted of drastic changes for the industry starting back from the basics and helping to revive the Korean economy. "Change everything except your wife and kids" the chairman used to emphasize, showing his will to change the fundamentals of the conglomerate and strive for innovation.

Through his leadership, Samsung has dozens of affiliates, including the world's top smartphone maker Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance.

The market capitalization of Samsung Group has soared more than 348 fold under Lee Kun-hee, transforming the company into the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones and electronics.

According to financial research firm FnGuide, the conglomerate, which includes Samsung Electronics and construction company Samsung C&T, has snowballed under his management, with its market capitalization reaching 318.7 trillion won ($282.4 billion) in 2014 from just 900 billion won in 1987, when Lee took over.

He attended middle school in Japan and high school in Seoul, then went to Waseda University in Japan for his bachelor's degree and enrolled in George Washington University's graduate school of business administration in the U.S.

Chairman Lee is survived by his wife, Hong Ra-hee, and only son, Jae-yong, and two daughters, Boo-jin and Seo-hyun.

Industry watchers believe Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong will succeed his father to become the next chairman of Samsung, while his two daughters Boo-jin and Seo-hyun will take supporting roles.


By Kim Hyun-bin

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who built the company into the nation's largest conglomerate and a global technology titan, died in Seoul, Sunday, after years of hospitalization.

He was 78 years old.

Late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee
Late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Lee Kun-Hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics. Chairman Lee passed away on Oct. 25 with his family, including Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, by his side," Samsung said in a statement Sunday. "All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him. Our deepest sympathies are with his family, relatives and those nearest. His legacy will be everlasting."

Lee's funeral service has been set up at Samsung Seoul Hospital.

"The funeral procedures has been simplified with only the deceased family members and relatives scheduled to take part," the company said. "We kindly refuse condolence calls and flowers."

Lee suffered a heart attack in May 2014 and since then he had been battling respiratory difficulties.

Sources say that the chairman was capable of breathing on his own without life support equipment but never fully recovered from the stroke.

Born in 1942 in Daegu, Lee took the helm of Samsung Group on Dec. 1, 1987, following his father Lee Byung-chull, founder of the conglomerate, and becoming the second chairman of the corporate titan.

The chairman was the seventh child and the youngest son of Lee Byung-chull, who had three sons and five daughters.

According to the company statement, Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into a world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business. His 1993 declaration of "New Management" was the motivating driver of the company's vision to deliver the best technology to help advance global society.

Lee's first trademark business philosophy, known as the "New Management Initiative," has been embraced by Samsung as a preamble to date. His vision for the future consisted of drastic changes for the industry starting back from the basics and helping to revive the Korean economy. "Change everything except your wife and kids" the chairman used to emphasize, showing his will to change the fundamentals of the conglomerate and strive for innovation.

Through his leadership, Samsung has dozens of affiliates, including the world's top smartphone maker Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance.

The market capitalization of Samsung Group has soared more than 348 fold under Lee Kun-hee, transforming the company into the world's largest manufacturer of smartphones and electronics.

According to financial research firm FnGuide, the conglomerate, which includes Samsung Electronics and construction company Samsung C&T, has snowballed under his management, with its market capitalization reaching 318.7 trillion won ($282.4 billion) in 2014 from just 900 billion won in 1987, when Lee took over.

He attended middle school in Japan and high school in Seoul, then went to Waseda University in Japan for his bachelor's degree and enrolled in George Washington University's graduate school of business administration in the U.S.

Chairman Lee is survived by his wife, Hong Ra-hee, and only son, Jae-yong, and two daughters, Boo-jin and Seo-hyun.

Industry watchers believe Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong will succeed his father to become the next chairman of Samsung, while his two daughters Boo-jin and Seo-hyun will take supporting roles.


Kim Hyun-bin hyunbin@koreatimes.co.kr

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