South Korea’s richest and most powerful industrialist, Lee Kun-hee, who turned Samsung Electronics into one of the world’s biggest tech companies, was buried yesterday.
Lee died on Sunday at the age of 78, six years after being left bedridden by a heart attack.
Under his leadership, Samsung became the world’s largest producer of smartphones and memory chips, and the firm’s overall turnover today is equivalent to a fifth of South Korea’s GDP.
It is by far the largest of the chaebols, the sprawling family-controlled conglomerates that dominate business in the country.
As well as his son and heir Jay Y. Lee, the Samsung Electronics vice chairman who has been the group’s de facto leader since his father was incapacitated, several chaebol chiefs gathered at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, where the four-day funeral rites were held.
They included Lee Kun-hee’s sister Lee Myung-hee, who is chairwoman of the Shinsegae retail group, and nephew Lee Jae-hyun, who heads the entertainment and food service conglomerate CJ Group, along with Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Eui-sun, reports said.
“I have been to many countries in the world, but I have never seen a man like him who did better than his father,” a childhood friend said in a eulogy, according to reports.
Afterwards a stretch Lincoln hearse carrying his coffin and an LED light display reading “May the soul of the deceased rest in peace” emerged slowly and passed by about 100 reporters.
His eldest daughter, Lee Boo-jin, chief executive of Hotel Shilla, was seen sobbing on board a following bus.
The cortege passed by locations including Lee Kun-hee’s home and office in Seoul, and Samsung Electronics’ chip complex in Hwaseong, south of the capital, where employees stood holding chrysanthemums — a flower of mourning in Korean culture — to pay their respects.
“We will remember your footsteps forever,” read a banner hung at one entrance, Yonhap news agency reported, while some workers shed tears.
Samsung flags have been flying at half-mast on company buildings.
Lee Kun-hee was laid to rest at a family grave site in Suwon where the late patriarch’s grandparents are buried.
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