Lee Kun-hee, chairman of South Korea’s largest company Samsung Group, has passed away at the age of 78.
Mr, Lee died on Sunday with his family by his side. The cause of his demise has not been revealed.
Samsung said in a statement, “All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him.”
Mr. Lee his a big name that turned a small trading business into an economic powerhouse. Samsung Electronics also became one of the world’s biggest tech companies during his lifetime.
According to figures by Forbes, Mr. Lee had a net worth of around $21bn (£16bn) and was the richest person in South Korea.
Mr. Lee was the third son of Lee Byung-Chul, who founded Samsung Group in 1938. He joined the family firm in 1968 and took over as chairman in 1987 after his father’s death.
At that time, Samsung was seen as a maker of cheap products. However, significant reforms were introduced at the company during his lifetime.
Mr. Lee became famous for telling employees in 1993: “Let’s change everything except our wives and kids.”
Mr. Lee rarely spoke to the media and had a reputation for being a recluse, earning him the nickname “the hermit king”.
According to BBC, Mr. Lee left his job as chairman in 2008 after he was charged with tax evasion and embezzlement. He was handed a three-year suspended jail sentence for tax evasion but was given a presidential pardon in 2009 and went on to lead South Korea’s successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.