Samsung is notorious for being one of the biggest electronics companies in the world, thanks largely in part to Chairman Kun-Hee Lee, who defined its path back in 1993. Today, the man, who played perhaps the biggest role in defining the company’s success, has met his demise, after suffering from health problems ever since a heart attack in 2014.
So far, the company has not specified the reason for Lee’s death.
Kun-Hee Lee inherited the company from his father Byung-chul Lee, who started Samsung Group in 1938 as a trading company that sold dried Korean fish, vegetables, and fruit to China. Over the years, the company changed its face, and started dealing in electronics. The command of the corporation was assumed by Kun-Hee Lee in 1987, after the death of his father, who decided to change its path, by selling high-end products instead of cheap, commodity devices.
Lee started his career in 1966, with a job at Tongyang Broadcasting Company, an affiliate of Samsung. In 1979, he became the Vice Chairman of Samsung Group, later becoming the Chairman in 1987. He held that role for 11 years, transitioning to Samsung Electronics in 1998 as its Chairman. However, he left the company for a brief period after 2008, only to return later in 2010 as chairman of Samsung Electronics, a role he served till his last breath.
However, ever since Lee’s health started deteriorating in 2014, his son, Jay Y. Lee took command of the company. In 2017, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of bribery. However, his sentence was suspended the following year.
“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.”