Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, left, was divorced Daesang Group heiress Lim Se-ryung, center. After the separation, Lim started dating actor and fashion model Lee Jung-jae, right. Photo courtesy of Samsung, Daesang, Lotte Entertainment

Daesang Group heir gains spotlight after the success of Squid Game

Last week, South Korean actor Lee Jung-jae basked in the limelight in Los Angeles as the protagonist of the Netflix hit drama Squid Game attended a film gala.

Also gaining a spotlight beside Lee was Lim Se-ryung, the heiress of South Korean food conglomerate Daesang Group. The two have been in a relationship for the past several years.

Before that, Lim has been well known in South Korea because of her wealthy ex-husband.

Lim grabbed headlines midway through 1998 when she quit university and married Lee Jae-yong, who became the richest man in South Korea after former Samsung tycoon Lee Kun-hee passed away late last year.

With a son and a daughter, the couple seemed to be happy. In early 2009, however, Lim filed for divorce, and they separated by mutual agreement.

In 2015, Lim and Lee Jung-jae admitted to being in a romantic relationship, and they were often seen in public thereafter (See the Korea News Plus article on May 14, 2019).

Different fate

After the high-profile divorce between Lim and Lee Jae-yong, the latter struggled a lot, although he became the richest man in the country.

Topping other things off, the Samsung owner was imprisoned twice in 2018 and 2021 for bribing former President Park Geun-hye in return for strengthening his grip on Samsung.

The 53-year-old billionaire was released this August on parole but was also convicted and fined last month for illegally using the sedative propofol dozens of times between 2015 and 2020.

Worse, he runs the risks of returning to the jail as a separate court trial is pending over charges of financial crime like stock price manipulation and auditing violations associated with a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries in 2015.

By contrast, Lee Jung-jae has been very successful since he met with Lim.

In particular, he became a global celebrity this year as the Netflix original series Squid Game chalked up a great success since its premiere in September.

The nine-episode thriller became the most successful Netflix drama as it officially became Netflix’s most-watched show last month. It is still attracting many viewers.

The drama pits hundreds of desperate people in six rounds of childhood games. The winner will gain tens of millions of dollars, but the losers are killed.

As the protagonist of Squid Game, Lee Jung-jae was the eventual victor of the games. The sequel of the successful drama is expected to hit the market in years to come.