Lee Kun-hee, 78, had been bedridden since a heart attack in 2014. He was instrumental in turning this small SME into a global electronics giant, contributing one-fifth of South Korea's GDP. His son, Jay Y. Lee, has been at the helm of Samsung since 2014.
Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee died Sunday at the age of 78, the South Korean group said in a statement.
Mr Lee, who turned the group into a global telecommunications giant, had been bedridden since a heart attack in 2014.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Lee Kun-hee, president of Samsung Electronics," the group said. "President Lee passed away on October 25 with his family, including Vice President Jay Y. Lee, by his side."
The vice president, his son Lee Jae-yong, has been at the helm of the company since the 2014 health accident.
"President Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung by making a local company a world leader in innovation and industrial power," the company praised, adding, "His legacy will be eternal."
Samsung is by far the largest of the South Korean conglomerates ("chaebols") that dominate the world's 12th largest economy.
The company's overall turnover is equivalent to one-fifth of the country's Gross Domestic Product, making it crucial to the economic health of South Korea.
A trial that tarnishes its balance sheet
Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 after being convicted of bribery and other offenses related to former President Park Geun-hye, then was cleared of the most serious charges on appeal and released. one year later. This case is still ongoing.
His father Lee Kun-hee was convicted of bribery in 1996, then bribery and tax evasion in 2008. But he escaped jail, having been given a suspended sentence.