Samsung has confirmed that the company’s group chairman Lee Kun-hee died on Sunday at the age of 78.
Born in South Korea in 1942, Lee was the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, and is credited with transforming the family firm into the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, televisions and memory chips.
Lee’s father founded Samsung Group in 1938, with Lee joining in 1968 and taking over as chairman in 1987 following the death of his father.
Lee Kun-hee is known for radically changing the company’s reputation from cheap, low-quality products into the global technology leader it is today.
Samsung released its first handset in 1988, with Lee predicting there would be an era where one person would own at least one wireless handset.
In 1995, with a defect rate as high as 11.8 per cent of Samsung models, Lee ordered all the old Samsung handsets in the market to be recalled – 150,000 phone units were destroyed and then burnt.
He was well known for telling employees at the time: “Let’s change everything except our wives and kids.”
“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the firm said in a statement.