The company said in a statement that “Lee” died on Sunday, with his family at his side, without mentioning the cause of death. His family will hold a private funeral for him.
Lee had surgery in 2014 after a heart attack, and was treated for lung cancer in the late 1990s.
The richest person in South Korea
In his quest to innovate and challenge his rivals, Lee asked his employees to “change everything except your wives and children.”
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Lee was the richest person in South Korea with an estimated net worth of $ 20.7 billion. The actual value of his company is estimated at $ 300 billion.
Samsung, known locally as Chaebol, is the largest family-run industrial group in South Korea. It was the reason behind the rise of South Korea to the stage of the global economy.
After Lee’s death, the reins are set to pass to his only son, Jay Wai Lee, who has been the de facto leader of the conglomerate since his father was hospitalized in 2014.
“The chairman of the board, Lee, was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into a world leader in innovation and an industrial powerhouse from a local company … his legacy will be forever,” Samsung said.
Besides Galaxy smartphones, Samsung also provides semiconductors for Google data centers and Apple (iPhone) phones, as well as being the world’s most advanced screen maker for televisions, computers and mobile devices.
The younger Lee is currently in legal disputes with South Korean prosecutors over allegations of bribery and corruption, which he has repeatedly denied.
Lee was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2005, and he began fixing Samsung Electronics after seeing the company’s products piled in dust in an electronics store in Los Angeles, according to the “Lee Kun Hee Story” biography An autobiography written by Lee Kyung-sik in 2010.
The company’s transformation began in 1993 when Lee brought together top executives in Germany and devised a plan, known as the Frankfurt Declaration, to transform Samsung from a second-tier TV maker into a leader in the field. The new company’s mission was to create high-quality products, even if that meant reduced sales.
Samsung Electronics became the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips in 1992, the same year it became the first company to develop a 64MB DRAM chip, according to the company.
Lee was born on January 9, 1942 in Daegu, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Sol, and grew up in the nearby Yuriong rural area, according to the company.
In 1938, his father, Lee Byung-chul, opened a four-story grocery store in Daegu that later became the Samsung Group.
In his teens, Lee Kun Hee loved movies, cars, wrestling and playing high school rugby to fight loneliness.
He graduated with a degree in economics from Waseda University in Tokyo, and also studied business administration in the United States at George Washington University.
In 1995, he rounded up 2,000 workers to watch him set fire to 150,000 cell phones, fax machines, and other products for the company that didn’t meet his quality standards.
The cultural change he made by Lee eventually had results. Samsung Electronics surpassed Tokyo-based Sony Corporation to become the largest seller of flat-screen TVs in 2006, the same year in which its market value exceeded $ 100 billion.
In 2010, Samsung introduced the Galaxy-branded smartphone, which runs on the Vapet’s Android system, which helped it in the following year to overtake Apple as the world’s largest smartphone maker in terms of units sold.