Samsung Electronics announced that the company’s chairman, Lee Kun-hee, has passed away. In a statement released by the company, it was stated that 78-year-old Lee Kun-hee closed his eyes on October 25 while his family members were by his side.
Although no information was given about the cause of death, Lee, who had a heart attack in 2014, has since isolated himself from society. Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee, assumed the responsibility and became the de facto head of the company.
Lee Kun-hee, who can be described as a controversial personality, played an important role in transforming Samsung from a cheap TV and home appliances manufacturer to a big tech giant. Lee Kun-hee, South Korea’s richest person, made up a fifth of the country’s gross national product with Samsung. In the statement made by Samsung, it was stated that the “new management” understanding announced by Lee in 1993 was the main motivation factor for the formation of the vision of presenting the best technology that will help the progress of the global community.
Lee also found himself in legally controversial situations. Accused of bribing President Roh Tae-woo in 1995, Lee faced charges of tax evasion and embezzlement in 2008. However, Lee was formally pardoned on both charges. The second amnesty took place in 2009; “So Lee can return to his role at the International Olympic Committee and help hold the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang,” said the then South Korean Justice Minister.
Lee’s death also seems to rekindle the debate over who will replace him. Jay Y. Lee has been de facto president of the company since 2014. However, he was imprisoned for almost a year during this period due to the bribery scandal that took former South Korean President Park Geun-hye from his seat. In addition, according to South Korean law, those who will inherit father Lee’s inheritance must pay heavy inheritance taxes. This means that heirs may have to take out some of the Samsung shares in their hands.