Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun -hee , who transformed the South Korean firm into a global tech titan , died at the age of 78 on Sunday, the company said .
Under Lee ’ s leadership , Samsung rose to become the world’ s largest producer of smartphones and memory chips , and the firm ’ s overall turnover today is equivalent to a fifth of South Korea ’ s GDP .
Samsung’ s meteoric rise helped make Lee South Korea ’s richest and most powerful industrialist.
“ It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Kun – hee Lee , Chairman of Samsung Electronics , ” the company said in a statement .
“ Chairman Lee passed away on October 25 with his family , including Vice Chairman Jay Y . Lee , by his side .
“ Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business , ” the firm said , adding : “ His legacy will be everlasting. ”
Samsung is by far the biggest of the family -controlled conglomerates , or chaebols , that dominate business in South Korea .
They drove the nation’ s transformation from a war – ravaged ruin to the world’ s 12 th – largest economy , but nowadays are accused of murky political ties and stifling competition — with Lee himself twice convicted of criminal offences , in one case bribing a president .