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Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee dies at 78

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Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee.
Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee.

Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, who transformed the South Korean firm into a global technology powerhouse, died on Sunday at the age of 78.

Lee was a South Korean businessman who served as chairman of the Samsung Group from 1987 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2020, and is credited with the transformation of Samsung into the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, televisions and memory chips.

He was the richest person in South Korea, according to Forbes, with a net worth of nearly $21 billion.

In a statement, Samsung said Lee died on Sunday with family by his side, but did not state the cause of death.

However, in 2014, he suffered a heart attack which left him living in care.

“Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business,” Samsung said in a statement.

“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him.”

Lee’s son, Jay Y Lee, has led the company since becoming vice-chairman in 2012 and is expected to inherit his father’s title.

However, CNN reports that the younger Lee previously spent time in jail after being convicted of bribing disgraced former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who was herself jailed in 2018.

Lee is currently subject to further court proceedings for alleged corporate malfeasance.

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