Last Sunday (25), Samsung reported death, on the same day, of Lee Kun-hee. The CEO is 78 years old this year and, although not world famous, his work has had a global impact. He was at the helm of Samsung for three decades and was primarily responsible for making it one of the largest tech companies in the world.
Samsung’s success as a business with an active presence in different industry segments is noted for Kun-hee. The company was founded by his father, Lee Byung-chul, in 1938 and initially sold fish, fruits and vegetables. It was only in the late 1960s that Samsung entered the electronic world.
It was about that time Lee Kun-hee started working at her father’s company. However, he would only take over as chairman of Samsung in 1987, after the death of Lee Byung-chul.
In the following years, Samsung went through a radical transformation. Determined to thrive the company, Kun-hee set up a management model in 1993 that included developing more complex products and moving the company away from low-cost brands.
It was so efficient that Samsung became the most valuable company in Korea. Over the ensuing decades, the company became a reference in developing and manufacturing a wide range of products, notably cell phones, TVs, home appliances and chips.
Unlike company leaders like Apple, Microsoft, and Google, Kun-hee has always been reserved. Interviews or public statements on his part are rare. But behind the scenes, Lee Kun-hee is very active and considered a visionary leader.
It is no coincidence that this businessman became the richest man in Korea, Forbes pointed out that he passed away with an estimated net worth of about 21 billion USD.
But Lee’s trajectory is also surrounded by scandals. He was chairman of Samsung from 1987 to 1998. Last year, he assumed the CEO role and held the position until 2008, after being found guilty of tax evasion and corruption, he decided to resign.
With sentences alleviated and pardoned by then South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in late 2009, Lee Kun-hee returned to the position of chairman of Samsung in 2010 and remained in office until now. when he died.
However, in recent years, the businessman has shared Samsung’s leadership with his son Lee Jae-yong (who also has problems with justice, was arrested in 2017 and will be sentenced in the next year). That’s because Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014 and has been in poor health ever since.
It is not clear whether the cause of death was related to Kun-hee’s health in recent years.