Lee Kun-hee was a South Korean business magnate and the former chairman of Samsung Group, one of the largest and most successful conglomerates in the world. Born on January 9, 1942, in Uiryeong, South Korea, Lee was the third son of Samsung Group’s founder, Lee Byung-chul.
Lee Kun-hee graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, with a degree in economics in 1965. He then returned to South Korea and joined Samsung Group as a vice president in 1971. Over the years, Lee played a significant role in transforming Samsung Group into a global powerhouse, overseeing the company’s expansion into various industries, including electronics, shipbuilding, construction, and finance.
Under Lee’s leadership, Samsung Group became South Korea’s largest conglomerate and one of the most successful corporations in the world. The company’s flagship subsidiary, Samsung Electronics, became a world leader in the production of semiconductors, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Lee was known for his aggressive management style and his emphasis on innovation and quality.
Lee’s wealth was estimated to be around $20 billion at the time of his death in October 2020. He was one of the richest people in South Korea and the world. He owned a significant stake in Samsung Group and was also a major shareholder in other Samsung subsidiaries.
However, Lee’s legacy is not only defined by his immense wealth but also by his contributions to South Korea’s economy and society. He was instrumental in South Korea’s transformation into a global economic powerhouse, and his vision and leadership helped make Samsung Group one of the most successful corporations in the world.
Lee passed away on October 25, 2020, at the age of 78, leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered for years to come.
Here is a timeline of significant events in the life of Lee Kun-hee:
- 1942: Lee Kun-hee is born in Uiryeong, South Korea, on January 9th.
- 1965: Lee Kun-hee graduates from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, with a degree in economics.
- 1971: Lee Kun-hee joins Samsung Group as a vice president.
- 1987: Lee Kun-hee becomes chairman of Samsung Group after the death of his father, Lee Byung-chul.
- 1993: Lee Kun-hee is indicted on charges of bribing South Korean president Roh Tae-woo and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. He is later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam.
- 1995: Lee Kun-hee steps down as chairman of Samsung Group after being criticized for his management style and for the company’s involvement in corruption scandals.
- 2000: Lee Kun-hee returns as chairman of Samsung Group.
- 2008: Lee Kun-hee is hospitalized after suffering a heart attack and resigns as chairman of Samsung Group.
- 2010: Lee Kun-hee returns as chairman of Samsung Group.
- 2014: Lee Kun-hee is hospitalized after suffering a heart attack and remains in a coma until his death on October 25th, 2020.
5 Interesting Facts About Lee Kun-hee:
- Lee Kun-hee was a major advocate for design, and he famously ordered Samsung executives to “change everything but your wife and children” in order to improve the design and quality of Samsung products.
- Lee Kun-hee was an avid art collector, and his collection included works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Andy Warhol.
- In 1993, Lee Kun-hee was indicted on charges of bribing South Korean president Roh Tae-woo, and he was later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam.
- Lee Kun-hee was a major supporter of the Korean Wave, the global popularity of South Korean culture, and he helped promote K-pop and Korean dramas around the world.
- Lee Kun-hee was known for his reclusive and secretive nature, and he rarely gave interviews or appeared in public.
5 Quotes From Lee Kun-hee:
- “The key to our success is innovation… We must innovate constantly to stay ahead of the competition.”
- “Change everything except your wife and children.”
- “We need to have a sense of crisis and a sense of speed.”
- “New technology is, of course, important, but we need to use it to create new businesses and new jobs, not just to improve existing ones.”
- “A company that is capable of creating new markets and new products is a company that will continue to grow and succeed.”