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Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee dies  

Posted October. 26, 2020 07:58,   

Updated October. 26, 2020 07:58


Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee who turned Samsung Electronics into a global technology powerhouse died Sunday at the age of 78.  

According to the group, Lee breathed his last at the Samsung Medical Center on that day with the presence of his wife Hong Ra-hee, former director of the Leeum Museum of Art; his son, Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics; daughters Lee Boo-jin, president of Hotel Shilla, and Lee Seo-hyun, chief of the Samsung Welfare Foundation. The group announced that the funereal will be private in accordance with the wishes of the deceased and his bereaved family.

The late Samsung chairman has been hospitalized since he had a heart attack on May 10, 2014. His condition has rapidly deteriorated recently. He went to cities with warm climate and fresh air in the U.S. and Japan to protect his respiratory system after having a lung lymphoma cancer surgery in November 1999.  

He was born on January 9, 1942 as the third son of Lee Byung-chull, the founder of Samsung, and was selected as the successor of the group in the mid-1970s. He became the chairman of Samsung Group at the age of 45 in December 1987 right after his father died.  

Chairman Lee Kun-hee was known as a genius of business management. Samsung Electronics would not have today’s stronghold in smartphones, semiconductors and TVs if it were not for him. “Management specialists of Samsung was concerned that his decision to start a semiconductor business would ruin the group,” said senior staff of Samsung. “His broad perspective and attention to detail led to exceptional achievements even though there were a lot of concerns.” The group announced his death to its staff members in the morning and said Samsung was proud that it had him.  

Lee also left meaningful traces in Korea’s sports and culture. He was appointed as a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1996 and played an important role in hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in July 2011. He took the lead in providing economic assistance to North Korea by sending Samsung TVs to the North in 1999.  

The funeral will be held for four days at the Samsung Medical Center. Samsung announced that it will not receive flowers or take visitors considering the impact of COVID-19. The burial site will be Everland or the family gravesite in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com