Samsung Chairman Lee, the man who made the company an electronics giant, dies at 78

Samsung Chairman Kun-Hee Lee has died on the age of 78.

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The pinnacle of Samsung, Kun-Hee Lee, has died on the age of 78, the corporate mentioned Saturday. It did not specify what triggered his loss of life, however Lee has been ill since a coronary heart assault in 2014. He is credited because the particular person who turned Samsung into the electronics giant that it is today after refocusing the corporate on making high-end merchandise as a substitute of low-cost, commodity gadgets. 

“Chairman Lee was a real visionary who remodeled Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a neighborhood enterprise,” Samsung mentioned in a press release. “All of us at Samsung will cherish his reminiscence and are grateful for the journey we shared with him.”

Samsung did not instantly reply to a request for extra data. 

Lee’s father, Byung-chul Lee, based Samsung Group — Samsung Electronics’ father or mother — in 1938 as a buying and selling firm that bought dried Korean fish, greens, and fruit to China. Samsung did not begin promoting electronics till 31 years later, in 1969. And it wasn’t till the mid-1990s that Kun-hee Lee, then on the helm of the corporate after the 1987 loss of life of his father, dedicated to creating high-end merchandise and shed Samsung’s status for reasonable items. In 1993, throughout an government retreat in Frankfurt, he advised workers that they wanted to “change every part however your spouse and youngsters.”

Samsung famous in its assertion Saturday (Sunday native time in Korea) that Lee’s “1993 declaration of ‘New Administration’ was the motivating driver of the corporate’s imaginative and prescient to ship the very best know-how to assist advance world society.”

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That proclamation wasn’t sufficient, nonetheless. Early in 1995, Kun-hee Lee found that telephones he gave as items did not work. Enraged, he traveled to Gumi, house to Samsung’s most important meeting plant about three hours south of Seoul by automotive, and dumped 150,000 telephones onto a area. Then, the story goes, he ordered workers to encompass the pile, and instructed a few of them to mild the telephones on fireplace and plow over the mess with a bulldozer. After that, Samsung Electronics put excessive concentrate on designing high-quality merchandise, one thing that is helped it entice prospects to its myriad of gadgets. 

Immediately, Samsung is among the world’s largest telephone makers — it held the title on-and-off for practically a decade until earlier this year, when Huawei surpassed the company — in addition to an enormous in TVs, elements manufacturing, reminiscence chips and residential home equipment. 

Lee’s rise

Lee was born on Jan 9, 1942 in part of Korea occupied by Japan. He graduated from Waseda College in Tokyo in 1965 and studied for a grasp’s at George Washington College however left with out ending his diploma, according to the New York Times

In 1966, he began a job at Tongyang Broadcasting Firm, an affiliate of Samsung, and later labored for Samsung’s building and buying and selling enterprise, known as Samsung C&T. In 1979, he grew to become vice chairman of Samsung Group. 

Lee served as chairman of Samsung Group from 1987 to 1998 and chairman and CEO of Samsung Electronics from 1998 to 2008. He once more served as chairman of Samsung Electronics from 2010 to his loss of life. He helped Samsung turn out to be probably the most highly effective corporations in know-how, which turned him into the richest man in South Korea. However he confronted authorized issues through the years. Lee was convicted and pardoned twice for white-collar crimes in South Korea, first in 1996 and once more in 2008. 

Whereas Samsung is among the best-known and largest corporations on this planet, it has struggled in recent times. Lee’s hospitalization starting in 2014 left a dearth of path from the highest of the corporate. Lee’s son and inheritor obvious, Jay Y. Lee, has been overseeing Samsung since his father grew to become ailing, however he is confronted authorized problems with his personal. In 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison after being discovered responsible by a Seoul courtroom of bribery and different costs. On the time, one in every of Samsung’s co-CEOs said the company was like a ship without a captain. The youthful Lee’s sentence was suspended the next yr. 

Samsung mentioned Jay Y. Lee was by his father’s aspect when he died. 

Samsung of late has confronted different hurdles, notably because the novel coronavirus pandemic rages throughout the globe. 2020 was alleged to be a powerful yr for the telephone business, as improvements like 5G and foldable screens obtained folks procuring once more. As a substitute, monetary struggles and worries about COVID-19 will restrict the variety of gadgets corporations could make and what number of phones folks will really purchase.

Whereas Samsung was one of many first corporations to launch a telephone with 5G, it has been surpassed by Huawei. And analysts expect Apple to become the world’s second biggest 5G phone vendor this year — with lower than three months of gross sales. That places Samsung, as soon as the chief with the brand new connectivity, in third place. It has counted on its elements enterprise to buoy its income, whereas its different electronics have struggled.

Earlier this month, Samsung said it expects a 58% jump in profits within the third quarter. In current months, Samsung’s chip enterprise has gotten a lift from information facilities that depend on the know-how to retailer every part we’re doing on-line.

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Shara Tibken