Lee Kun-hee of Samsung Dies at 78; Built an Electronics Titan - 2 minutes read

“I thought to myself, ‘How are they going to know anything about the film business when they’re so obsessed with semiconductors?’ ” Mr. Spielberg later recalled. “It was another one of those evenings that turned out to be a complete waste of time.”

Samsung entered a phase of global conquest in the 2000s, using flashy devices and sleek marketing to implant its name firmly into the minds of Western consumers. Mr. Lee, however, was rarely seen in public. He was a devoted collector of sports cars and fine art.

By 2007, he had identified the next looming crisis for Samsung. China was ascendant in low-end manufacturing, while Japan and the West still led in advanced technologies. South Korean companies — Samsung included — were sandwiched in between.

But as he got started on his next overhaul of the Samsung way, accusations surfaced that he had dodged taxes on billions of dollars supposedly stashed in secret accounts. Instead of fighting the charges, he stunned South Korea by announcing his resignation on live television.

“I promised 20 years ago that the day when Samsung was recognized as a first-class business, the glory and fruition would all be yours,” he said in 2008, addressing employees, his voice a near whisper. “I truly apologize for not having been able to keep that promise.”

He was pardoned the following year, and was made Samsung’s chairman again in 2010.

After Mr. Lee suffered a heart attack in 2014, his son, Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, became the company’s public face.

In addition to his son, Lee Kun-hee is survived by his wife, Hong Ra-hee; his daughters Boo-jin and Seo-hyun; his sisters Sook-hee, Soon-hee, Deok-hee and Myung-hee; and seven grandchildren.

Source: New York Times

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