SEOUL, May 11 (Korea Bizwire) — Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been hospitalized for the past six years, with no signs of recovery so far.
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the eldest son of bedridden chief and the heir to South Korea’s top conglomerate, made a rare public apology Wednesday over controversies related to his succession and declared the start of a “New Samsung,” bringing major transition to the company.
Lee Kun-hee, who remains confined to a VIP hospital room at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, is still unconscious, with no major change in his health condition, industry sources and Samsung officials said Sunday.
Lee was hospitalized on May 10, 2014 after suffering an acute myocardial infarction at his home. Last year, there were rumors of a critical illness, but he was still known to be breathing on his own.
While he was lying sick in bed, Samsung had a rough six years.
Lee Jae-yong was indicted in 2017 for bribing former President Park Geun-hye’s administration. Court trials related to the company’s no-labor union policy and Samsung BioLogics’ accounting fraud also weighed heavily on the company.
In the face of repeated crises, the younger Lee held a press conference last Wednesday to declare a the start of a New Samsung era.
Lee added he does not plan to pass on managerial rights to his children and promised of bold action to transform Samsung. In addition, he pledged to make sure that Samsung no longer pursues no labor union policies.
The recommendation of Samsung’s compliance committee, which was created at the request of the court to destroy and repatriate state affairs, led to the company’s declaration of a major turnaround.
Lee earlier announced his choice of four future growth projects — artificial intelligence, 5G mobile communications, biotechnology and semiconductors — even after his release from a detention center in 2018.
Following a long-term investment roadmap for non-memory and foundry business worth 133 trillion won (US$109.4 billion) in April last year, the company also announced plans to invest in next-generation displays in October.
The search for new growth engines is expected to continue in the future, as Lee expressed his willingness to “create a new Samsung that fits the national prestige” in the latest apology to the nation.
However, it remains to be seen whether the younger Lee’s unprecedented declaration will lead to actual changes in Samsung’s management practices.
“Samsung’s compliance committee and civic groups are already asking Samsung for detailed action plans related to succession and labor union issues,” an industry source said. “Samsung will have to show more sincerity.”
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)