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Samsung Chairman’s Resignation Shocks Korea and World

Posted April. 23, 2008 05:12,   


Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee`s resignation yesterday sent shockwaves throughout Korea and the world.

Lee also issued a formal apology in his first news conference since April 1995, when he blasted Korean politics and government administration. The atmosphere yesterday, however, was more shocking than that of 13 years ago.

Forty key members of the conglomerate, including Samsung Electronics CEO Hwang Chang-gyu, looked bitter and gloomy as they listened to their boss’s statement.

Lee’s calm voice occasionally shook with emotion as he read the last part of his statement. He asked the Korean public for their continuing support for Samsung’s global advancement.

Another big announcement came when the group’s vice chairman Lee Hak-soo released Samsung’s reform plan, which went way farther than expected. A foreign correspondent with a surprised look on his face asked Lee about the message he was trying to convey to shareholders.

To cover the historical event, hundreds of domestic and foreign reporters swarmed the conference, which was aired live nationwide. Most of the conglomerate’s 180,000 domestic employees watched the announcement simultaneously on Samsung’s intranet.

Chairman Lee reportedly consulted several members of his inner circle before deciding on the group’s reform measures. The details were not released even to Samsung CEOs until 7:50 a.m. yesterday, just prior to a general meeting of Samsung management.

Certain Samsung executives even shed tears after learning of their chairman’s resignation and the reform plan at the meeting.

Likewise, Samsung managers and staff could not conceal their shock and worry as they watched Lee’s announcement.

One Samsung worker said, “Nobody disputes the contributions Samsung, as the leading Korean conglomerate, has made to our national economy. Chairman Lee has always been the central force. They are pushing him too much against the wall!”

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