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Samsung chief touts ‘meaningful trip’ to France, Vietnam

June 25, 2023 - 15:44 By Jie Ye-eun
Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong (left), who turned 55 on Friday, received birthday congratulations from President Yoon Suk Yeol (second from right), Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong (right) and Vietnamese first lady Phan Thi Thanh Tam (third from right) during a state dinner in Hanoi. (Joint Press Corps)

Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong returned home Saturday after a seven-day business trip to France and Vietnam. He accompanied President Yoon Suk Yeol on his latest state visits to the two countries.

As Lee arrived at Seoul Gimpo Business Aviation Center later in the day, he smiled and told reporters that it was “a meaningful itinerary.” But the Samsung chief declined to answer any of them when he was asked about the possibility of Busan’s winning to host the Expo.

Lee traveled to Paris to attend a general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions, the international body in charge of overseeing the World Expo, on Tuesday and Wednesday, to promote South Korea’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in its southeastern city of Busan.

Lee, who was part of a 205-member business delegation accompanying Yoon, was among the attendees at South Korea’s official presentation session. The president delivered an English-language speech and the official reception to promote Busan's bid.

Three more chiefs of Korea’s top conglomerates -- SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun and LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo -- also engaged in meetings and discussions to woo support for Busan’s Expo bid for two days.

The Samsung chief reportedly met with French President Emmanuel Macron to engage in discussions about mainstay businesses such as semiconductors and batteries.

Lee also accompanied Yoon’s trip to Hanoi as the South Korean and Vietnamese leaders committed to further bolster economic and cultural partnerships through a summit and a series of events there.

On Saturday, a day ahead of departing from Vietnam, the Samsung executive chairman and Yoon visited the tech giant's research and development center in Hanoi to take part in a dialogue with the digital future generation.

It was Lee's first visit to the Hanoi R&D center since the facility was inaugurated last December.

Lee, who turned 55 on Friday, received birthday congratulations from the presidents of South Korea and Vietnam during a state dinner at the International Convention Center in the city as well. He received a birthday cake from the Vietnamese host.

For the de facto leader, Vietnam has become a regular business destination due to Samsung Electronics producing nearly half of its flagship Galaxy smartphones in factories there.

Samsung’s key affiliates -- including Samsung Display, Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Samsung SDI -- have also made inroads into the country.