Samsung has their hand on everything in South Korea – from the TVs at the airport, to the insurance carried by many of the people, to the high-rise buildings you see, to the kitchen appliances and the name will follow you all the way onto the bathroom bidet. It is not a stretch to say that how well Samsung performs is how well the entire country performs. That kind of power and influence is daunting…and not just for the people that are affected by Samsung, but also those within the company itself.
It is no secret that the boss or chairman of Samsung, Lee Kun-hee, who is 72, suffered a severe heart attack and is in the hospital. Most people do not expect him to return to the helm to guide the huge company anytime soon – the job will most likely go to his 46-year-old son, Lee Jae-yong. This could forever reshape the look of Samsung and raise the questions of whether it will be for the better and whether the young Lee has what it takes to handle the transition.
In fact, this could mark an exciting time and a new beginning for Samsung, South Korea and mobile devices as we know them. While Lee Kun-hee was a stern dictator and taskmaster, his son, Lee Jae-yong, is completely the opposite and is known to be very approachable and unassuming. Many are questioning whether he is up for the task of taking the reins of this huge conglomerate. No one is talking, but one has to wonder if the young Lee had anything to do with Samsung finally changing their smartphone design with the switchover to metal on the Galaxy Alpha, the Galaxy Note 4 and the two new Galaxy S6 devices. The possibility of injecting some ‘youth’ and ‘energy’ into Samsung and its mobile devices is exciting. Lee Jae-yong is currently vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, and is ‘unofficial’ chairman, since his father’s heart attack in May 2014. On Friday, Samsung announced that Lee Jae-yong has inherited the chairmanship of two of his father’s investment companies – Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation and the Samsung Foundation of Culture. These foundations are so significant that they are part of the force that binds together some 74 businesses that Samsung owns. Park Ju-gun, head of corporate watchdog CEO Score, told Reuters “A key point in the succession process is controlling the foundations, because they hold stakes in key Samsung Group companies. I think it’s safe to say that the succession process is near a final stage.”