The death of Samsung Chairman Lee Gun-hee: Reshaping the values of Korean enterprises by oneself
Original title: The death of Samsung Chairman Lee Kin-hee: A comment on the merits and crimes of the chaebol in reshaping the values of Korean enterprises by oneself
Samsung Chairman Lee Kin-hee passed away in Seoul, South Korea on Sunday at the age of 78 . The South Korean business tycoon built Samsung into a global giant in the fields of smartphones, TVs and computer chips, but was convicted twice for white-collar crimes in the process, but was pardoned twice.
Samsung has officially announced Li Jianxi’s News of the death, but did not disclose the specific reasons. Since his heart attack in 2014, Li Jianxi has been unable to move normally.
When Li Jianxi took over Shuaiyin from his father, Samsung Group founder Li Bingzhe in 1987, this company was seen by many Westerners as an electronics company specializing in the production of cheap TVs and substandard microwave ovens. .
Lee Jianxi’s experience shows that South Korean chaebols tend to adopt many questionable methods to maintain their influence. The chaebol is the main source of economic vitality in South Korea, so many Koreans suspect that the chaebol can even threaten the entire country.
In 1996, Lee Jianxi was convicted of bribing the South Korean president and was subsequently pardoned. More than ten years later, he was convicted of tax evasion, but was sentenced to probation in order to allow him to continue lobbying activities for the mountain town of Pyeongchang to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Shortly after the end of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Lee Myung-bak, who served as the president of South Korea from 2008 to 2013, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking bribes. He accepted a bribe of 5.4 million U.S. dollars from Samsung in exchange for pardoning Lee Jianxi.
Lee Jianxi was born on January 9, 1942 in Daegu, South Korea, which was occupied by Japan at the time. His father Li Bingzhe founded Samsung, which specializes in exporting fruits and dried fish, just a few years ago. Li Jianxi was a wrestler in high school.
Samsung first developed by controlling consumer necessities such as sugar and textiles in war-torn Korea, and later expanded its business to insurance, shipbuilding, construction, semiconductors and other fields. Li Jianxi graduated from Waseda University in Tokyo in 1965 and then went to George Washington University to study for a master’s degree, but did not obtain a degree.
In 1966, he started his career at Toyo Broadcasting Company, which was then owned by Samsung. He worked for Samsung CT, the construction and trading company of the Samsung Group, and was appointed as the Vice President of the Samsung Group in 1979.
When he became the president in 1987, he continued his father’s foresighted style. Although the development environment at that time was still favorable, he still harbored an existential crisis. Today, this is still an important concept of Samsung.
“We are in a very important transition period.” Li Jianxi said in an interview with Forbes, “If we do not enter capital and technology-intensive industries, our survival will be threatened.”
When he summoned dozens of Samsung Electronics executives to a luxury hotel in Frankfurt in 1993, his radical transition concept was undoubtedly revealed. At that time, he provided training for senior executives for days, urging them to abandon their old work and way of thinking. He said: “Except for the same wife and children, everything has to change.”
He ordered Samsung to focus on improving product quality rather than blindly expanding market share. This requires the recruitment of overseas talents, and also requires senior managers to fully understand foreign markets and be familiar with the competition methods in these markets.
At that time, this was unacceptable in the Korean business community.
In 1995, out of the importance of quality, after discovering that a batch of mobile phones were defective, he went to the Samsung factory in Gumi to inspect.
What happened next became a legend. According to Tony Michel’s 2010 book “Samsung Electronics and the Battle for Leadership in the Electronics Industry”, 2,000 workers from the Gumi factory gathered in the yard wearing “quality first” headbands. Li Jianxi and the directors sat under the slogan “Quality is my pride”.
They watched as telephones, fax machines and other inventory worth $50 million were smashed and burned on the spot. The employees shed tears.
Li Jianxi’s business history is not perfect. Believing that electronics will become an indispensable part of automobiles, he founded the automotive division in the mid-1990s, but eventually sold the business in 2000.
The cooperation between Samsung and Hollywood was also short-lived. In 1995, the director Steven Spielberg proposed during dinner that Li Jianxi invest in a film production company. Although Li Jianxi himself is a movie fan, he and other Samsung executives eventually turned the topic back to the chip.
“I thought to myself,’How can they understand the movie business because they are so obsessed with semiconductors?'” Spielberg later recalled, “It was a complete waste of time that night.”
Samsung entered the stage of global dominance in the 2000s. It used gorgeous equipment and fashionable marketing to firmly plant its brand in the minds of Western consumers. However, Li Jianxi rarely shows up in public. He likes to collect sports cars and art.
By 2007, he confirmed the next imminent crisis for Samsung. China has an advantage in low-end manufacturing, while Japan and the West are still leading the way in advanced technology, while South Korean companies, including Samsung, have suffered.
However, when he began to reform Samsung, he encountered accusations of tax evasion of up to billions of dollars. He did not fight for reasons, but announced his resignation on live TV, shocking the whole country.
“20 years ago, I promised that when Samsung became a recognized first-class company, the glory and achievements will belong to you.” He whispered to employees in 2008, “I am not I apologize for fulfilling his promise.”
He was pardoned the following year, and he became the chairman of Samsung again in 2010.
After a heart attack in 2014, his son and Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong became the de facto spokesperson for the company.
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