“A true visionary who transformed Samsung from a local company to an innovative player and a global industrial power ”. So the Korean company announced the death of the suo president: Lee Kun-hee. He was 78 years old and had long been hospitalized in Seoul hospital (where he died) after a heart attack in 2014.
In addition to being the entrepreneur who definitively launched Samsung in the Olympus of technology and global giants, Lee Kun-hee was the richest man in Korea (also including the fortune of his wife, Hong Ra-hee, daughter of a media tycoon who presided over one of the largest newspapers in the country).
Lee Kun-hee: who he is and his presidency at Samsung
Third of the three brothers, Lee Kun-hee became president of Samsung starting in 1987, when his father, Lee Byung-chull (founder of Samsung) chose him as his successor. Incidentally, under Lee Byung-chull’s leadership, the Korean company had already become South Korea’s leading industrial group, with businesses ranging from consumer electronics to construction and heavy industry.
At the helm of Samsung for over three decades, Lee Kun-hee has managed to turn Samsung into the leading smartphone, smart TV and memory chip maker, to the point that, starting from last year, the revenues of the Samsung group were equivalent to 20% of the South Korean economy. In addition, it has taken the Korean brand to the top of the main world rankings. For example, Samsung Electronics is in the top five ranked among the best global brands by Interbrand 2020.
In addition to his commitment to the rise of Samsung, Lee Kun-hee has had a very important role for his country: South Korea. After the dictatorship, in fact, the Asian country has managed to take an important role in the world of sport. And this is demonstrated by the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, the 2002 World Cup co-hosted with Japan and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, for which Lee Kun-hee himself had a decisive role, since he was a member of the Committee. International Olympic.
His most famous phrase, Samsung’s legacy and future
Famous for the phrase “Change everything except wives and children”, pronounced in 1993 during a corporate event in Frankfurt when he announced management reforms, the now former president of Samsung has always had clear ideas: to break new ground to reinvent the company and amaze the world with the advanced technology offered. Goals that seemed impossible, but which gradually came true.
Starting as a company that produced low-cost televisions, Samsung gradually began its climb and in a short time, precisely in 2006, it overtook Sony to become the leader in the global television market. Five years later, then in 2011, it also managed to override the largest smartphone manufacturer of the moment: Apple.
Nicknamed the “emerite king”, Lee Kun-hee – as well as his son, Jay Y. Lee (president of Samsung) – has had to deal with financial scandals and corruption several times, up to two convictions for various types of crimes (even if he was pardoned both times by the president of the country in office).
Finally, as Forbes.com also points out, his death will raise hereditary issues. Lee Kun-hee, in fact, eSamsung Electronics’ largest individual shareholder (this makes up the bulk of his wealth), and traditionally, shares held by the wealthiest people in South Korea are inherited by family members after death. And the country’s inheritance tax is around 60%.