The South Korean business tycoon Lee Kun-Hee is credited with turning Samsung into one of the biggest corporations in the world, with operations in semiconductors, smartphones, electronics, shipbuilding, construction, and other industries. He was the chairman of Samsung Group from 1987 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2020.
Samsung has emerged as the top producer of cellphones, memory chips, and appliances since Lee Kun-hee took over as company chairman. He belonged to the International Olympic Committee as well. He was the third son of Lee Byung-Chul, the man who founded Samsung. He was the richest person in South Korea, a position he had held since 2007, with an estimated net worth of $21 billion at the time of his death.
Lee Kun-Hee Bio/Wiki
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Lee Kun-hee was born in Daegu on January 9, 1942, when Korea was still under Japanese rule. He was Lee Byung-third Chul’s child and the founder of the Samsung business, which began as a fruit and dried fish exporter. Later, he graduated with a degree in economics from Japan’s prestigious Waseda University.
He attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to study for a master’s program in business, but he did not graduate. Lee was a keen sportsman who enjoyed training dogs, racing sports cars on a closed track, and riding horses. He also managed a professional baseball club and participated in amateur sports while serving as president of the Korean Amateur Wrestling Association.
Lee began working for Samsung in 1968, a company that included financial services, equipment, chemicals, and electronics. He served as his father’s quiet heir apparent, who quietly declined to name his two older sons as his heirs and maintained complete control over the corporation.
Lee took over as chairman of Samsung upon the death of his father in 1987, but he delegated control to corporate staff. However, Lee began a radical top-down revolution in June 1993 to transform Samsung—the biggest Asian corporation outside of Japan—and make it competitive on the global stage.
He told every employee that, by international standards, Samsung was “second rate” and urged them to “change everything but your family.” Lee ascribed Samsung’s failings to fundamental flaws in Korean culture, such as a rote-learning-focused educational system and an authoritarian management style. The drastic changes he ordered.
Lee referred to Samsung’s approach as “new management,” which requires that employees notify their superiors when they make mistakes. It also emphasized product quality over quantity, elevated women to high leadership positions, and opposed bureaucratic procedures. From a reserved figurehead to a confident CEO, Lee propelled Samsung into a number of new ventures, including the production of automobiles.
He set a goal to manufacture 20% of Samsung’s products outside of South Korea by the year 2000, helped by an increase in investment. He thus constructed semiconductor operations in Austin, Texas, and Suzhou, China, as well as an electronics manufacturing facility in Wynyard, England.
Additionally, he purchased businesses including the German Rollei Camera, the Japanese Lux, and the American computer firm AST Research. In 1995, the entire group’s revenues exceeded $87 billion, or around 19% of South Korea’s GDP, making Samsung Electronics the largest supplier of memory chips in the world by 1996.
Lee Kun-Hee Controversies
Lee was one of 11 well-known South Korean businessmen embroiled in a political controversy involving donations to former president Roh Tae Woo in 1996. Despite being common in South Korea, a judge determined that these payments constituted bribery. Lee was given a two-year prison term in August 1996, but it was suspended for three years.
Later, President pardoned him. Samsung was one of the largest companies in the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century because Lee successfully led the company through the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. However, Lee was charged with breach of trust and tax evasion in April 2008, and soon after that, he resigned from his position as chairman of Samsung.
He was found guilty of tax evasion in July, and as a result, he was given a three-year prison sentence with a suspended sentence and was fined about $80 million. In December 2009, Lee received a pardon from the South Korean government. Executives at Samsung Group appointed Lee to lead Samsung Electronics, the organization’s largest subsidiary, in March 2010.
Later on in the year, he came back to lead the Samsung Group. However, he had a heart attack in 2014 that rendered him helpless. Lee kept his position, but his son Lee Jae-Yong took over as the de facto head of the Samsung Group. It was revealed in 2018 that the senior Lee was once more under investigation for tax evasion.
Lee Kun-Hee Personal Life
Hong Ra-hee and Lee Kun-hee were wed until Lee Kun-passing. hee’s The previous chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo and Tongyang Broadcasting Company, Hong Jin-ki, is the father of Hong, who is also known as Hong. Several of his brothers’ children and other relatives work as executives for significant Korean conglomerates.
His eldest daughter, Lee Boo-jin, is the president and CEO of the upscale hotel chain Hotel Shilla as well as the president of Everland Resort, which runs a theme park and resort and is, in the words of the Associated Press, “widely recognized as the de facto holding company for the conglomerate.”
Lee had four children: Lee Jae-Yong, the oldest and only son, was born in 1968; the other three daughters were Lee Boo-jin, Seo-hyun, and Yoon-hyung (1979–2005), who committed suicide. In February 2012, Lee’s older sister Lee Sook-hee and older brother Lee Maeng-hee filed a lawsuit against him, seeking a South Korean court to grant them shares of Samsung enterprises worth US $850 million (913.563 billion won), which they asserted their father had left to them in a will.
Hearings in court started in May 2012. The case was thrown out by South Korean courts on February 6.
Lee Kun-Hee Net Worth
The richest individual in South Korea, Lee Kun-hee, passed away, leaving behind a sizable amount of assets that could be inherited by his remaining family and liable to inheritance tax. Here is a summary of his net wealth, which according to Forbes totals $20.9 billion, as well as the anticipated inheritance tax.
With shares in four listed Samsung companies valued at around 18.2 trillion won ($16.1 billion) as per the recent closing price, Lee was the richest stockholder in South Korea.
His stock holdings included 4.18 percent of common shares and 0.08 percent of preferred shares of Samsung Electronics, worth a combined 15 trillion won; 20.76 percent of Samsung Life Insurance, worth 2.6 trillion won; 2.88 percent of Samsung C&T, worth 564 billion won; and 0.01 percent of Samsung SDS stock.
His two well-known properties in central Seoul, with a combined ground area of 1,245.1 and 3,422.9 square meters, are the most expensive single-family residences in the nation. The Yonhap news agency stated earlier this year that they were estimated to be worth 40.9 billion won and 34.2 billion won, respectively.
Hefty Inheritance Tax
According to South Korean tax regulations, a 20 percent premium is added to the appraisal value of the deceased person’s holdings, which will be based on the four-month average of the shares’ closing market price before and after the death, before the country’s 50 percent inheritance tax rate on listed stocks is applied.
According to Reuters calculations, the inheritance tax for just the aforementioned stocks is projected to cost roughly 10.6 trillion won.
According to a Reuters calculation, Jay Y. Lee, the elder Lee’s de facto heir, had positions in six of the listed subsidiaries of the Samsung Group totaling nearly 7.2 trillion won as of Friday’s closing. The younger Lee owns 0.7 percent of Samsung Electronics and 17.3 percent of Samsung C&T, the de facto holding company for the group.
According to regulatory documents, he also owns 9.2 percent of Samsung SDS, 1.5 percent of Samsung Engineering, and less than 0.1 percent of Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance. Each of the daughters of Lee Boo-jin, the CEO of Hotel Shilla, and Lee Seo-hyun, the head of the Samsung Foundation, has around 1.6 trillion won worth of ownership holdings in Samsung C&T and Samsung SDS.
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In the late 1990s, Lee received treatment for lung cancer. In 2005, he underwent another cancer screening at the MD Anderson Medical Center in Houston, Texas, but no new cancer-related issues were reported. He had a heart attack and was taken to a hospital in Seoul in May 2014. He then fell into a coma, which he stayed in until his passing on October 25, 2020, at the age of 78.
In the spring of 2021, the late Lee’s heirs made the announcement that the South Korean government will receive the businessman’s multibillion-dollar collection of more than 23,000 works of art. Hwang Hee, the nation’s minister of culture, sports, and tourism, revealed intentions to erect a brand-new museum specifically for the Lee collection in opposition to this declaration.
How much was the net worth of Lee Kun-Hee?
$20.3 Billion as of 2018 (when he died)
Who was Lee Kun-Hee’s wife?
What was Lee Kun-Hee age?
78 (at the time of death)
What was the name of the Lee Kun-Hee firm?