Lee Kun-hee, the ailing chief of the sprawling Samsung empire, has died at the age of 78. He has long been South Korea’s richest man since at least 2007.
The second-generation heir of South Korea’s largest conglomerate had been in a coma following a heart attack in 2014.
Lee grew Samsung since the death of his father and the conglomerate’s founder, Lee Byung-chull, in 1987. Lee Kun-hee’s only son, Jay Y. Lee, has been the de-facto head of Samsung, and has been mired in a controversial scandal that has rocked Korea since late 2016.
Lee Kun-hee is most famous for a 1993 meeting with his staff at a time when Samsung was struggling; he told them to “change everything but your wife and kids.” The meeting helped spur Samsung to become the leading manufacturer of smartphones, smart TVs and memory chips.
As of today, Lee Kun-hee’s net worth was estimated at $20 billion.