A Childish Spat Over Shares Is Airing All The Samsung Dynasty's Dirty Laundry

Photo: Getty Images/Chung Sung-Jun

Korean soap operas are being a run for their money by an unlikely quarter: the chairman of Samsung and his siblings, The New York Times reports.Lee Kun-hee, the head of Samsung and South Korea’s richest man, has thrown propriety out the window and is now engaged in a free-for-all squabble with his elder brother Lee Maeng-hee and elder sister Lee Sook-hee, both of whom have sued him for what they say are their rightful shares of Samsung.

On Monday, Maeng-hee, 80, called Kun-hee, 70, “childish” and “greedy.” Kun-hee retorted by claiming his brother did not command the respect that came with being the oldest. “…no one in our family, including myself, regards him as such,” adding that his brother hadn’t even shown up to their dead father’s anniversary.

The younger Lee has also said his brother was not “on the same level” as him, and that while his sister was once his father’s favourite, they had a falling-out when she married into the Keumsung family (which owns the other electronics giant LG), The Wall Street Journal says.

The older siblings are accusing the Samsung chairman of taking over some shares in Samsung subsidiaries under assumed names. Maeng-hee is demanding his brother return the shares, along with 710 billion won ($623 million) in cash, according to AFP, in a case that has captivated South Korea. The younger Lee has said he has “no intention of giving up a single cent”, Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reports.

Lee Byung-Chull, who founded Samsung in 1938, had three sons and five daughters. He passed on control of his company to his third son, Lee Kun-hee, bypassing the oldest son, Lee Maeng-hee.

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