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Samsung still tight-lipped on Lee Jae-yong's succession

Oct. 25, 2022 - 15:09 By Son Ji-hyoung
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is seen attending late chairman Lee Kun-hee's second remembrance day on Tuesday in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

A memorial service honoring the late Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee was held Tuesday, without a major announcement made by the electronics giant in regards to a succession plan for his son to ascend to the top leadership.

Speculation has been building recently that Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong might be promoted to the chairman post, using the memorial service for momentum.

Lee has held the "vice chairman" position for the past decade. Lee's eventual assumption of the chairman title is widely seen as the indication of the 54-year-old taking full grip of the chips-to-electronics empire.

A pardon granted to Lee by the Yoon Suk-yeol administration in August has cleared hurdles for him to seek the leadership position. Previously, a conviction of bribery and embezzlement hindered him from formal employment by Samsung under Korean rules, although he walked free on parole in August 2020.

The third-generation chaebol scion left the Samsung Electronics boardroom in October 2019 and has yet to return.

The market has been watching closely for Samsung's next move, as it is widely expected to make a major announcement in the final quarter when it holds a series of in-house services celebrating the firm's birthday on Nov. 1 and another memorial service for its founder, who passed away 35 years ago. A Samsung board meeting is also scheduled for Thursday and the regular executive reshuffle of Samsung for December.

Meanwhile, the memorial service for late Chairman Lee Kun-hee was attended by some 300 people. Among them were Lee family members including Jae-yong's mother Hong Ra-hee, sisters Boo-jin and Seo-hyun and brother-in-law and International Skating Union President Kim Jae-youl.

Also attending the anniversary were executives of Samsung, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Han Jong-hee, Samsung Life Insurance Chief Executive Officer Jeon Young-muk and Samsung C&T CEO Koh Jung-suk, as well as South Korean industry leaders such as Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn.

The late chairman passed away in 2020 after a six-year coma following cardiac arrest. He is buried in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.