The Korea Herald


[Newsmaker] ‘Imprisoned Samsung chief Lee hospitalized for burst appendix’

Jailed tycoon, refusing to accept special treatment, said to have put up with pain, delaying diagnosis

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : March 25, 2021 - 17:16

    • Link copied

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. (Yonhap) Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong had part of his large intestine removed after his appendix burst, local reports said Thursday.

The de facto chief of the nation’s largest conglomerate, who is currently in jail for bribing former President Park Geun-hye, had a partial colorectal resection last week, the reports said, after a case of acute appendicitis was diagnosed too late and resulted in complications. They said Lee, not wanting to draw unnecessary attention, endured the pain, which delayed diagnosis.

Lee was transferred to Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul on Friday with sharp pains on the right side of his abdomen, and was then diagnosed with appendicitis.

He was hospitalized two days after the pain started, and substances from the burst appendix had already spread throughout his abdomen and necrotized part of his large intestine.

Lee reportedly turned down medical advice to go to a hospital sooner, in fear that his exit from the detention center could be seen as special treatment and invite public criticism.

Earlier this week, legal authorities postponed the trial for Lee and a number of Samsung officials over a controversial merger of the group’s two affiliates and alleged accounting fraud. The Seoul Central District Court put off the first hearing to April 22 from Friday this week, accepting a request from Lee’s legal counsel, who said Lee required medical treatment for three weeks.

In September the Samsung Group heir was indicted on charges of unfair trading, stock manipulation and breach of trust in connection with the 2015 merger between the group’s textile and chemical affiliate Cheil Industries and construction arm Samsung C&T. He also was accused of taking part in accounting fraud at the pharmaceutical unit Samsung Biologics.

Both steps were seen as necessary to consolidate the transfer of power to Lee from his late father, Lee Kun-hee. The senior Lee died in October last year after being incapacitated for several years.

In January the 52-year-old businessman was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after a retrial of his high-profile bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye and her confidant.

Since the ruling, he has been at the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, south of Seoul. Given the prison time he already has served, he is expected to be released in July 2022 unless he is granted a pardon or commutation.

By Bae Hyun-jung (