Lee Jae-yong (businessman)

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Lee Jae-yong
Lee Jae-yong in 2016.jpg

(1968-06-23) 23 June 1968 (age 53)
Alma materSeoul National University
Keio University
Harvard Business School
OccupationChairman of Samsung
Lim Se-ryeong
(m. 1997; div. 2009)
Parent(s)Lee Kun-hee
Hong Ra-hee
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,[4] is a South Korean business magnate and the chairman of Samsung. He is the only son of Hong Ra-hee and Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung until his death in 2020, and is his father's successor. [5] He is referred to as the "Crown Prince of Samsung" by the South Korean media and speaks Korean, English, and Japanese.[6] As of September 2021, Lee is estimated to be worth US$11 billion, making him the fourth-wealthiest person in South Korea.[7] In January 2021, Lee was sidelined from taking part in major Samsung business dealings after he resumed serving a prison sentence for a bribery and embezzlement conviction.[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.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Jae-yong was born in Seoul, South Korea to Lee Kun-hee. He attended Kyungbock High School. He received his B.A. in East Asian history from Seoul National University,[10] and his M.B.A. 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]

Lee is rarely seen in public and avoids publicity. He has two younger sisters, Lee Boo-jin and Lee Seo-hyun, and was the older brother of the late Lee Yoon-hyung.[12]

Lee has one son (born 1997) and one daughter (born 2004) with his ex-wife Lim Se-ryung, whom he divorced in 2009.[13][10] 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.[14] 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.[6] He has been described as having "been groomed to take over the family firm".[15]

2017 arrest and conviction[edit]

In January 2017, Lee was accused "of bribery, embezzlement and perjury" by the South Korean prosecutor's office,[16] and after an investigation he was arrested on February 16, 2017. On August 25, 2017, Lee was sentenced to 5 years in prison after being found guilty of corruption. On February 5, 2018, the appeals court suspended his sentence and reduced it to 2.5 years, releasing him.[17]

Lee's arrest was largely prompted by the investigation of the Choi Soon-sil scandal, which could be traced back to the father-to-son shift in ownership of Samsung in 2014. His involvement in a bribery act with the then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye was first brought to the table by that arrest warrant issued in January 2017 by the South Korea prosecutor's office, which led to his later arrest in mid-February of the same year.[citation needed] On January 12, 2017 the special prosecutor's office said it would decide "soon" whether to seek an arrest warrant for Lee. After his arrest, Lee was questioned for more than 22 hours concerning illegal activities including bribery in the scandal that consumed president Park.[18]

On 16 January 2017, the prosecutor's office finally decided to seek an arrest warrant for Lee.[19][20] The warrant was denied based on a court ruling from 19 January, with the Central District Court Justice Cho Eui-yeon stating that it was "difficult to recognize the need" for his incarceration.[21][22] On 17 February 2017, Lee was "formally arrested after the Seoul central district court issued a warrant on the night" of 16 February for "handing bribes worth almost £30m to then South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil to win government favours for a smooth leadership transition."[23]

Subsequent to 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.[24] A spokesman for Samsung said, "We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings."[23] On 28 February 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that "South Korean prosecutors said they would indict the Samsung conglomerate’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery and four other offenses."[25] It was reported on 7 August 2017, that prosecutors demanded a twelve-year sentence for Lee.[26] On 25 August, Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to 5 years in jail.[27] He had to stay in prison pending a trial in the appellate court.[28]

On 5 February 2018, Lee was freed from jail after a South Korean court suspended his five-year jail term for bribing ex-president Park Geun-hye.[29] On 18 January 2021, Lee was sentenced to two years and six months in prison by a high court and transferred to Seoul Detention Center.[30] On May 2021, the Financial Times reported that U.S. companies have lobbied the South Korean president to pardon and release Lee from prison. The American Chamber of Commerce joined Korean business groups to urge the president to free Lee, arguing that the billionaire executive can help strengthen US president Joe Biden's efforts to end American dependence on computer chips produced overseas.[31][32] Lee was released on parole on 13 August 2021 by the South Korean government, which argued that it was in the national interest. His parole conditions included business restrictions for five years and requiring permission before travelling outside South Korea.[33]

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 (USD $60,055).[34][35][36]

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. [37]


  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), retrieved 22 July 2016
  3. ^ "#330 Jay Y. Lee", Forbes (profile), retrieved 9 April 2021
  4. ^ "A Chinese Court Rejects Arrest of Samsung Heir Jay Y. Lee". Bloomberg L.P. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested in South Korea". BBC News (in British English). 17 February 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Kim, Miyoung. "All Eyes Are On Samsung's 'Crown Prince'". Business Insider.
  7. ^ "#330 Jay Y. Lee". Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People". Forbes.
  10. ^ a b c d "Jay Lee, Samsung's unassuming heir apparent". Reuters. 5 December 2016.
  11. ^ Lee, Jungah; Clenfield, Jason (26 August 2014). "Samsung Low-Profile Heir Poised to Succeed Father Seen as a God". Bloomberg L.P.
  12. ^ 李在镕、李富真、李叙显今日将齐聚新上任高管晚宴. Retrieved 2016-08-12
  13. ^ "Jay Y. Lee". Forbes.
  14. ^ Milian, Mark (5 December 2012). "How Samsung Is Developing Its Next-Generation Leader". www.bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on 8 December 2012.
  15. ^ "Samsung scandal: Who is Lee Jae-yong?". BBC News. 5 February 2018. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  16. ^ "Lee Jae-yong dodges arrest on charges of bribery". The Economist. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  17. ^ Ricker, Thomas (5 February 2018). "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong released from prison on appeal". The Verge.
  18. ^ "South Korea prosecutor to decide 'soon' whether to seek arrest warrant for Samsung's Lee". Reuters. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  19. ^ "South Korea prosecutor seeks arrest of Samsung chief for bribery". Reuters. 16 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  20. ^ Pham, Sherisse (16 January 2017). "South Korean prosecutors seek to arrest Samsung heir". CNNMoney. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  21. ^ SANG-HUN, CHOE. "In a Blow to Prosecutor, South Korean Court Blocks Arrest of Samsung Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  22. ^ "South Korean court dismisses arrest warrant for Samsung chief". Reuters. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested amid bribery allegations". The Telegraph (in British English). Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  24. ^ "What Samsung's saying - All you wanted to know about the arrest of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ McCurry, Justin (7 August 2017). "South Korea prosecutors demand 12-year sentence for Samsung boss". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  27. ^ "Prosecutors seek 12-year sentence for Samsung's Lee Jae-yong". BBC News (in British English). 7 August 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  28. ^ "Samsung heir sentenced to five years in jail". ZDNet. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  29. ^ "Samsung heir freed from S Korea jail". BBC News. 5 February 2018.
  30. ^ "Lee Jae Yong: Samsung heir gets prison term for bribery scandal". BBC. 18 January 2021.
  31. ^ White, Edward (20 May 2021). "US companies lobby South Korea to free jailed Samsung boss". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  32. ^ "U.S. companies lobby for pardon for imprisoned Samsung chip tycoon". Marketplace (in American English). 8 June 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  33. ^ Tewari, Suranjana (13 August 2021). "Lee Jae-yong: Samsung heir released from prison on parole". BBC. Archived from the original on 13 August 2021.
  34. ^ "Samsung Boss Lee Jae-yong Convicted, Fined for Anaesthetic Misuse in Latest Setback: Report". News18. 26 October 2021. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  35. ^ Yonhap (26 October 2021). "Samsung heir Lee sentenced to W70m fine for illegal use of propofol". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  36. ^ "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.
  37. ^ Su-hyun, Song (19 August 2021). "[News Focus] Is Lee Jae-yong working at Samsung or not?". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 19 September 2021.

External links[edit]