Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, center, enters Gimpo International Airport flanked by his two daughters of Lee Boo-jin, left, and Lee Seo-hyun. Behind them are his wife Hong Ra-hee and his son Lee Jae-yong. Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

Tycoon’s family members keep suffering

How’s the life of Korea’s richest man, Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee? Ordinary people would envy the super-rich businessman whose total wealth amounts to more than $15 billion.

From the perspective of Lee, however, his life could be far from swimming in happiness in consideration of the many calamities involving himself and his family members.

The son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, Chairman Lee had a son and three daughters, but tragedy started early when his youngest daughter killed herself in New York in 2005.

Then, his only son, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong got divorced in 2009; while his eldest daughter, Hotel Shilla chief Lee Boo-jin, also separated from her husband in 2016.

Midway through 2014, Lee Kun-hee collapsed from a heart attack and has yet to regain consciousness. That might be a blessing in disguise because he hasn’t had to witness the miseries of his offspring.

On top of his eldest daughter’s divorce, his son was put behind bars in 2017 after being found guilty of corruption. He was originally sentenced to five years in prison but was released in 2018 after an appeals court overturned this verdict and gave him a suspended sentence.

The top court is now contemplating the case. And, depending on the verdict, the de facto Samsung leader might have to return to prison.

And a recent news report added salt to the wounds of the Samsung family _ a local media outlet published an interview with a nurse, who claimed that Lee Boo-jin regularly abused the drug propofol.

Propofol is a short-acting, sedative-hypnotic agent, which is classified as a psychotropic drug. Lee instantly denied any wrongdoing, but if the report is correct, she might be subject to criminal charges, too. The police started investigations.

Lee Kun-hee was convicted twice in 1996 and 2008 for bribery and tax evasion, but he was never imprisoned as the two sentences were suspended and he received presidential pardons in both cases.

In comparison, Lee Jae-yong spent a full year in prison and Lee Boo-jin also now runs the risk of jail time.

Of note is that it was News Tapa that raised the propofol suspicions regarding Lee Boo-jin. Previously, the Korean media outlet came up with accusations in 2016 that Chairman Lee was involved in prostitution before he was incapacitated in 2014.


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