Samsung has announced the passing of its chairman Lee Kun-hee, who died at the age of 78 on October 25. The cause of his death remains unknown.
Chairman Lee had been incapacitated for many years after he suffered a heart attack in 2014, which forced him to withdraw from public life. His son and vice-chairman of the company, Lee Jae-Yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee has been widely expected to take his father’s position even though he has been viewed as a de facto leader of the company all along.
The late chairman has played a major role in pushing Samsung from a cheap appliance maker to one of the biggest technology brands in the world. In doing so, he became one of the richest men in South Korea and contributed to a fifth of the country’s GDP.
Samsung previously said in a statement that Lee’s management in 1993 was the motivating driver to the company’s vision of delivering the best technology in the world.
However, Lee has also been involved in controversy time and time again. In 1995, he was found guilty of bribing President Roh Tae-woo through a slush fund, and in 2008 he was accused of tax evasion and embezzlement. He was formally pardoned for each conviction.
His son Lee Jae-Yong has also had his fair share of scandals. He spent nearly a whole year in jail following his father’s incapacitation over a corruption case. His appointment as the next chairman of the company will undoubtedly spark plenty of speculation.
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