The president of Samsung Electronics, Lee Kun-hee, who made the South Korean company a global name, has passed away at the age of 78.

Under the command of me Samsung It rose to become the world’s largest producer of smartphones and memory chips, with a total sales volume equivalent to one-fifth of South Korea’s GDP.

Renowned for his secluded lifestyle, Lee was left bedridden by a heart attack in 2014. Little has been revealed about his condition, leaving him shrouded in mystery even in his final days.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Kun Hee Lee, Chairman of Samsung Electronics,” a company statement said.

“President Lee passed away on October 25 with his family, including Vice President Jae Wai Lee, at his side… His legacy will be forever.”

Samsung is by far the largest family conglomerate. these ChaiBalls It dominates business in South Korea and led its transformation from war-torn ruin to the world’s twelfth economy. Nowadays, they are under scrutiny for opaque political ties and stifling competition – as Lee himself was twice convicted of criminal offenses, and in one case bribing a president.

When Lee inherited the group’s chair in 1987 – founded by his father to deal in fish, fruit and pasta – Samsung was already the largest conglomerate in the country, with operations ranging from consumer electronics to construction.

Lee sharpened her focus and took it global: By the time he had a heart attack in 2014, it was the largest manufacturer of smartphones and memory chips in the world. It is also a major global player in the field of semiconductors and LCD displays.

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Lee rarely ventured out of the high walls of his private complex in central Seoul to visit the company’s headquarters, earning him the nickname “the Hermit King.”

His son, Samsung Electronics’ vice president, Lee Jae-yong, has been at the helm of the company since his heart attack in 2014.

Was the son Sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 After being found guilty of bribery and other crimes related to former president Park Kun Hee, he was acquitted of the most serious charges on appeal and released a year later. This case is retried.

With The Associated Press