Lee Jae-yong

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Lee Jae-yong

(1968-06-23) 23 June 1968 (age 55)
Yongsan, Seoul, South Korea
Alma materSeoul National University (BA)
Keio University (MBA)
Harvard Business School (dropped out)
TitleExecutive Chairman of Samsung Electronics
Lim Se-ryung
(m. 1997; div. 2009)
Parent(s)Lee Kun-hee
Hong Ra-hee
RelativesLee Boo-jin (sister)
Lee Jay-hyun (cousin)
Chung Yong-jin (cousin)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Jaeyong
McCune–ReischauerYi Chaeyong

Lee Jae-yong (Korean이재용; Hanja李在鎔; born 23 June 1968), known professionally in the West as Jay Y. Lee,[3] is a South Korean business magnate and convicted felon who has been serving as the executive chairman of Samsung Electronics since October 2022.[4] He is the only son of Lee Kun-hee and Hong Ra-hee.[5] As of September 2021, Lee has an estimated net worth of US$11 billion, making him the fourth-wealthiest person in South Korea.[6] In January 2021, Lee was sidelined from taking part in major Samsung business dealings after he resumed serving a prison sentence for his bribery and embezzlement convictions.[7] He was pardoned in August 2022, before reinstating his position at Samsung.[8]

In 2014, Lee was named the world's 35th most powerful person and the most powerful Korean by Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People along with his father, Lee Kun-hee.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Jae-yong was born in Seoul, South Korea to Lee Kun-hee and Hong Ra-hee. He attended Kyungbock High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in East Asian history from Seoul National University,[10] and his Master of Business Administration degree from Keio University. He attended Harvard Business School for about five years in pursuit of a Doctor of Business Administration degree, but did not graduate.[11] He is the cousin of CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun and Shinsegae Group CEO Chung Yong-jin.[12]

Lee is fluent in his native Korean, English, and Japanese.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Lee has one son Lee Ji-ho (born 2000) and one daughter Lee Won-joo (born 2004) with his ex-wife Lim Se-ryung. Lim Se-ryung is the Vice Chairwoman of Daesang group.[14] Lim Se-ryung filed for divorce from Lee Jae-yong in 2009.[15] Lee enjoys golf and horse riding.[10]

Career at Samsung[edit]

Jae-yong started working for Samsung in 1991. He began serving as Vice President of Strategic Planning and then as "Chief Customer Officer", a management position created exclusively for Lee. His prospects for future company leadership dimmed when his father Kun-hee stepped down as Chairman due to tax evasion.[16] In December 2009, however, his succession prospects were revived when Lee became the chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics. Since December 2012, he has been vice chairman of Samsung. He is one of the main shareholders of Samsung's financial services subsidiary, owning 11 percent of Samsung SDS.[13] He has been described as having "been groomed to take over the family firm".[17]

Criminal conviction and pardon[edit]

In January 2017, special prosecutors of the South Korean prosecutor's office accused Lee of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.[18] Lee was questioned for more than 22 hours.[19] The charges came as part of a "vast influence-peddling case" that led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye the preceding month.[18] Lee was charged with bribing President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil.[20][21][22]

An initial request for an arrest warrant was rejected by the Seoul Central District Court in mid-January 2017.[23][24][25][26] In February 2017, Lee was formally indicted,[22] and arrested after the Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant.[20][27] Lee was charged with "offering $38 million in bribes to four entities controlled by a friend of then-President Park Geun-hye, including a company in Germany set up to support equestrian training for the daughter of one of Park’s friends, Choi Soon-sil" and "Prosecutors alleged the bribes were offered in exchange for government help with a merger that strengthened Lee’s control over Samsung at a crucial time for organizing a smooth leadership transition after his father fell ill."[22] After his arrest, Samsung admitted to making contributions to two nonprofit foundations allegedly controlled by Choi and her Germany-based firm but denied such contributions were related to the 2015 merger.[28] A spokesman for Samsung said, "We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings."[20]

The case attracted the attention of the South Korean public; public opinion had turned against chaebols, whose influence on society angered many.[29]

Lee was found guilty on each charge by a three-judge panel of Seoul Central District Court in August 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison. (Prosecutors has sought a 12-year sentence.)[30][31][32] In February 2018, the Seoul High Court reduced his prison sentence to 2.5 years, and suspended his prison sentence, leading to Lee's release after one year of detention.[33][34][29] Subsequently, the Supreme Court of South Korea sent the case back to Seoul High Court, which held a retrial.[33] In January 2021, Lee was sentenced to two years and six months in prison by Seoul High Court, which found him "guilty of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds" worth about 8.6 billion Korean won (7.8 million U.S. dollars, £5.75 million British pounds), and found that Samsung's independent compliance committee, established in 2020, was not yet fully effective.[33] Lee was returned to prison.[35]

In mid-2021, the United States Chamber of Commerce, a lobbying group of American companies, joined Korean business groups to urge the president to pardon Lee, arguing that the billionaire executive can help strengthen U.S. President Joe Biden's efforts to end American dependence on computer chips produced overseas amid the global chip shortage.[36][37] Lee was released on parole from the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang on 13 August 2021; the South Korean government argued that the release was in the national interest. His parole conditions included business restrictions for five years and requiring permission before travelling outside South Korea.[38][39] Upon leaving prison, Lee apologized, bowing to reporters and saying: "I've caused much concern for the people. I deeply apologize. I am listening to the concerns, criticisms, worries, and high expectations for me. I will work hard."[40][41]

In August 2022, President Yoon Suk-yeol granted a pardon to Lee, citing Samsung's importance to the economy; the pardon opened the door for Lee to take up leadership of the conglomerate.[8][42]

2021 drug conviction[edit]

On 26 October 2021, Lee was convicted for illegally using the drug propofol multiple times between 2015 and 2020 from a plastic surgery clinic. He was sentenced to paying a fine of 70 million won (US$60,055).[43][44][45]

Management style[edit]

According to an article in Reuters, Lee is known for his "cold" determination and polite, quiet demeanor. Lee is known to reply personally to e-mails, and assumes a light-hearted attitude with reporters.[10] In August 2021, the Korea Herald reported that Lee retained his title as Samsung's "Vice-Chairman" despite not drawing a salary or being registered as an executive in compliance with his work ban.[46]


  1. ^ "임세령 이재용 부부, 이혼소송 중…사실상 별거상태", Star Seoul (News), 13 February 2009
  2. ^ "둘째딸 낳은 삼성전자 이재용 상무 부인 임세령", The Dong-a Ilbo (News), 4 May 2004, retrieved 22 July 2016
  3. ^ "A Chinese Court Rejects Arrest of Samsung Heir Jay Y. Lee". Bloomberg L.P. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Lee Jae-yong: Samsung appoints convicted heir to top job". BBC News. 27 October 2022. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested in South Korea". BBC News. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  6. ^ "#330 Jay Y. Lee". Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong sentenced to 30 months in prison in bribery case". South China Morning Post. Reuters. 18 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Lee Jae-yong: Why South Korea just pardoned the Samsung 'prince'". BBC News. 12 August 2022. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  9. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People". Forbes.
  10. ^ a b c "Jay Lee, Samsung's unassuming heir apparent". Reuters. 5 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Samsung Low-Profile Heir Poised to Succeed Father Seen as a God". Bloomberg.com. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  12. ^ White, Edward; Jung-a, Song (7 February 2021). "Samsung's biggest challenge: 'The Lee family has to reform'". Financial Times. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  13. ^ a b Kim, Miyoung. "All Eyes Are On Samsung's 'Crown Prince'". Business Insider.
  14. ^ "Daesang Group heiress promoted to vice chairwoman". koreatimes. 29 March 2021. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  15. ^ "Samsung Electronics head's ex-wife and actor's romance going strong". koreatimes. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  16. ^ Milian, Mark (5 December 2012). "How Samsung Is Developing Its Next-Generation Leader". www.bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Samsung scandal: Who is Lee Jae-yong?". BBC News. 5 February 2018. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Lee Jae-Yong dodges arrest on charges of bribery". The Economist. 21 January 2017.
  19. ^ "South Korea prosecutor to decide 'soon' whether to seek arrest warrant for Samsung's Lee". Reuters. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  20. ^ a b c "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested amid bribery allegations". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  21. ^ "Samsung heir sentenced to five years in jail". ZDNet. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  22. ^ a b c Youkyung Lee (7 August 2017). "Prosecutors ask court to imprison Samsung heir for 12 years". Associated Press.
  23. ^ "South Korea prosecutor seeks arrest of Samsung chief for bribery". Reuters. 16 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  24. ^ Pham, Sherisse (16 January 2017). "South Korean prosecutors seek to arrest Samsung heir". CNNMoney. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  25. ^ SANG-HUN, CHOE (18 January 2017). "In a Blow to Prosecutor, South Korean Court Blocks Arrest of Samsung Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  26. ^ "South Korean court dismisses arrest warrant for Samsung chief". Reuters. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  27. ^ Martin, Timothy W. (28 February 2017). "Samsung Heir Lee Jae-yong to Be Indicted on Bribery Charges". The Wall Street Journal. New York City. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  28. ^ "What Samsung's saying – All you wanted to know about the arrest of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong". The Economic Times. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  29. ^ a b "Samsung heir freed from S Korea jail". BBC News. 5 February 2018.
  30. ^ Thomas Ricker (25 August 2017). "Samsung heir found guilty of perjury, embezzlement, bribery". The Verge.
  31. ^ McCurry, Justin (7 August 2017). "South Korea prosecutors demand 12-year sentence for Samsung boss". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  32. ^ "Prosecutors seek 12-year sentence for Samsung's Lee Jae-yong". BBC News. 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  33. ^ a b c "Lee Jae Yong: Samsung heir gets prison term for bribery scandal". BBC. 18 January 2021.
  34. ^ Ricker, Thomas (5 February 2018). "Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong released from prison on appeal". The Verge.
  35. ^ Elizabeth Koh, Samsung Is Without a Leader as Jay Y. Lee Returns to Prison, Wall Street Journal (January 18, 2021).
  36. ^ White, Edward (20 May 2021). "US companies lobby South Korea to free jailed Samsung boss". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  37. ^ "U.S. companies lobby for pardon for imprisoned Samsung chip tycoon". Marketplace. 8 June 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  38. ^ Tewari, Suranjana (13 August 2021). "Lee Jae-yong: Samsung heir released from prison on parole". BBC. Archived from the original on 9 August 2021.
  39. ^ Kim Jaewon, Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong leaves prison on parole, Nikkei (August 13, 2021).
  40. ^ Ron Amadeo, Samsung's leader is out of jail, allowing US factory plans to move forward, Ars Technica (August 13, 2021).
  41. ^ "'I'm very sorry': Samsung tycoon released from prison on parole". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  42. ^ Porter, Jon (12 August 2022). "Samsung heir pardoned for crimes, just like his father". The Verge. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  43. ^ "Samsung Boss Lee Jae-yong Convicted, Fined for Anaesthetic Misuse in Latest Setback: Report". News18. 26 October 2021. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  44. ^ Yonhap (26 October 2021). "Samsung heir Lee sentenced to W70m fine for illegal use of propofol". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  45. ^ "Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong convicted, fined over $80,000 for illegal use of sedative". The Straits Times. 26 October 2021. ISSN 0585-3923. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  46. ^ Su-hyun, Song (19 August 2021). "[News Focus] Is Lee Jae-yong working at Samsung or not?". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 19 September 2021.

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