Overseas media outlets gave major coverage to the death of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee on Sunday. They reported that Lee turned Samsung into a “titan” (The New York Times) and made it into a global brand (The Wall Street Journal), highlighting the leadership of Lee who made the company a global powerhouse.
“When Mr. Lee took the helm at Samsung Group in 1987, after the death of his father and the conglomerate’s founder, Lee Byung-chull, many in the West knew the group’s electronics unit only as a maker of cheap televisions and unreliable microwaves sold in discount stores,” reported The New York Times. “Lee Kun-hee pushed the company relentlessly up the technological ladder. By the early 1990s, Samsung had surpassed Japanese and American rivals to become a pacesetter in memory chips.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that he “transformed a second-tier electronics parts maker into the world’s biggest manufacturer of smartphones and televisions.” “Mr. Lee transformed the company into a global brand beyond South Korea where it sells everything from life insurance to roller-coaster rides. By almost every measure, he exceeded expectations, pushing the company to the global No. 1 position in televisions, smartphones and memory chips.” The Financial Times reported a Sony executives words in memoir of him, “It is an organisation full of people who are ready to rush towards the front line and sacrifice themselves at an order of a commanding officer.”
They also reported Lee’s “Frankfurt Announcement” in which he told company executives to change everything except for their wife and children in Frankfurt, Germany in June 1993 and his attention to “quality management” for which he burned 150,000 mobile phones (worth some 50 billion won at the time), which had a high defect rate at the Samsung Electronics office in Gumi in March 1995.
Se-Hyung Lee firstname.lastname@example.org