Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee. On his back is his only son and Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. Courtesy of Samsung

Chairman Lee has been hospitalized for 5 years

May 10 marks five years since the hospitalization of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who has been ensconced in Samsung Seoul Hospital.

On that date, Lee collapsed following a heart attack at his home and was taken to the Samsung hospital where he has been staying in a VIP room, an exclusive area on the 20th floor, ever since.

Lee, who turned 77 this January, has reportedly yet to recover consciousness but is apparently in a stable condition. 

The question is whether or not he will be able to wake up, and some even wonder whether or not he wants to because of the so many tragic things that have happened to Samsung and his family members.

Over the past five years, his only son, Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, was imprisoned for a full year and runs the risk of being returned to jail depending on the verdict of the Supreme Court, which is expected this month.

His eldest daughter, Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin, started what has become a long and messy divorce process just months after her father became bed-ridden.

Worse, she has allegedly been receiving an addictive injectable sedative for non-medical purposes. Police are investigating this allegation and she may be subject to criminal charges, although she has denied any wrongdoing.

And prior to all this in 2016, a media outlet came up with accusations that Chairman Lee himself was involved in a prostitution scandal before he was incapacitated.

With regards to the business of Samsung, the country’s top conglomerate, the group had been cruising along, boosted by the strong demand for semiconductors.

Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest memory chip maker, was raking in continuous record-breaking profits over the past few years; but the Seoul-based firm’s bottom line has recently faltered as demand for semiconductors began tapering off this year.

The political leadership of the country has also been taken over by the left-leaning, liberal head of state President Moon Jae-in, who has been accused of being unfriendly to big businesses.

Even if Lee wakes up now and returns to the management of the group, he would find himself suffering a lot of headaches due to the aforementioned issues.


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