30 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Lee Kun-hee


Lee Kun-hee, the chairman of Samsung Group, a South Korean multinational conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, which was founded by his father Lee Byung-chul in 1938. Here are some interesting facts about the South Korean business magnate:

  1. He, along with his son Lee Jae-yong, was named as the world's 35th most powerful person and the most powerful Korean in the Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People in the year 2014.
  2. Under his reign, Samsung transformed from a Korean budget name into a major international force, which is one of the most prominent Asian brands worldwide.
  3. Kun-hee is the richest man in South Korea, having made the Samsung revenues over 39 times of what they were when he took over in the year 1987.
  4. He became a member of the International Olympic Committee in the year 1996.
  5. Currently the company's notable subsidiaries have also reached the number 1 spot in their respective sector, such as the Samsung Heavy Industries, which is reportedly the world's largest shipbuilder measured by 2010 revenues, Samsung Electronics, said to be the world's largest information technology company according to the 2011 revenues, Samsung Life Insurance, which is the world's 14th-largest life insurance company, Samsung Everland, the operator of Everland Resort, the oldest theme park in South Korea.
  6. Samsung electronics, a subsidiary of Samsung, has been continuously listed among the 100 largest corporations in the world, by Forbes magazine, since the year 2007.
  7. Lee Kun hee was born on January 10, 1942 to Lee Byung-chul, the founder of the Samsung group and Park Du-eul in Uiryeong, South Gyeongsang, during the Japanese occupation of Korea.
  8. He is the third son of Lee Byung-chul, but the seventh child with his first wife. He has a total of 7 siblings and 2 half-siblings through his father's second wife.
  9. He graduated in Bachelor of Arts/Science from the Waseda University, often abbreviated as Sōdai, in Tokyo, Japan.
  10. He went on to earn his master of master of business administration degree at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
  11. He is said to have been an active sportsman, who spent his spare time riding horses, and racing sports cars on a private track.
  12. He was the President of the Korean Amateur Wrestling Association and was reportedly involved with a professional baseball team and amateur athletics.
  13. He joined his father's company Samsung, which was involved at that time electronics, machinery, chemicals, and financial services, at the age of 26, in the year 1968.
  14. Until the period of 1987, when he became the chairman of Samsung, two weeks after his father's death, he is said to have served as the quiet understudy of his father.
  15. Even after taking over as the Chairman, he had left the management of Samsung to be taken care by the corporate staff.
  16. It was in June 1993, that Kun-Hee took over and launched a dramatic revolution, which is till date quoted for his famous words "Change everything except your wife and kids," with the aim to make Samsung the largest Asian conglomerate outside Japan.
  17. He claimed that the shortcomings of Samsung are because of the basic weaknesses in Korean society, which includes the authoritarian style of leadership and even the educational system.
  18. He brought about a new management concept that insisted the subordinates of Samsung to point out errors, while stressing on quality of products rather than quantity.
  19. It was during this period that he oversaw the promotion of women to the ranks of senior executives while discouraging bureaucratic practices.
  20. On January 14, 2008, Korean police raided his home and office in an ongoing probe into accusations that the cmopany was responsible for a slush fund used to bribe influential prosecutors, judges, and political figures in South Korea.
  21. He is quoted to have denied all allegations against him in the scandal on April 4, 2018, but to have admitted as being the sole responsible person for everything on April 11, 2008.
  22. He resigned from his position as the Chairman of Samsung on April 21, 2008, quoting that he would take full responsibility for everything, both legally and morally.
  23. It was reported in the New York Times' July 16, 2008 edition that the Seoul Central District Court had found Lee guilty on charges of financial wrongdoing and tax evasion and that he has been fined 110 billion won (approx $98 million USD) and sentenced him to three years' suspended jail time.
  24. After several months, it was reported that the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak pardoned him for his charges, allowing him to remain on the International Olympic Committee, in December 2009.
  25. He resumed his position as the Chairman of Samsung on March 24, 2010. The same year, Kim Yong-chul, the company's former chief legal counsel published a book title "Think Samsung," which listed alleged details of Kun-hee's personal corruption, where he stole up to 10 trillion won (approx $8.9 billion USD) from Samsung subsidiaries.
  26. His elder brother Lee Maeng-hee and older sister Lee Sook-hee, in February 2012, initiated a legal action asking a South Korean court to award them shares of Samsung companies, which they claim their father willed to them. The case was dismissed on February 6, 2014.
  27. In May 2014, he suffered a heart attack and has been hospitalized since then, leaving his only son Lee Jae-Yong, as the de facto leader of the Samsung Group. The AsiaN posted an article claiming that he had died on May 16, 2014, citing insider news from Samsung, but deleted the article around seven months later due to no further information.
  28. He is married to Hong Ra-hee, the daughter of Hong Jin-ki, a media tycoon who chaired one of the country's largest newspapers, JoongAng Ilbo and Tongyang Broadcasting Company. His fortune is said to include that of his wife's also.
  29. The couple has four children - the only son and the eldest child Lee Jae-yong, who is often referred to as the Crown Prince of Samsung in the country, and three daughters - Lee Boo-jin, Lee Seo-hyun and Lee Yoon-hyung.
  30. His first daughter Lee Boo-jin is the president and chief executive of Hotel Shilla, one of Seoul's leading hotels and conference centers, second daughter Lee Seo-hyun oversees Samsung's fashion division, while the youngest of four Lee Yoon-hyung, committed suicide by hanging herself on November 18, 2005, at the age of 26, when she was a first-year graduate student in arts management at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
  31. Lee Kun-hee Net Worth: $17.5 Billion

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Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Group

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