Samsung's jailed union-busting chairman steps down

Lee Sang-hoon was sentenced to 18 months in prison for sabotaging union activities.


Lee Sang-hoon is stepping down from his position as chairman of Samsung Electronics' board. According to Reuters, the company will be appointing a successor soon. Lee Sang-hoon was found guilty of sabotaging legitimate union activities and sentenced to 18 months in prison last December. As ZDNet reports, he was using several tactics to disrupt and disarm unions, including delaying negotiations between management and laborers, closing subcontracting companies with active unions, and digging for information that could persuade key union members to leave. Twenty-five other people were convicted on similar charges, according to the BBC.

All of these actions took place in 2013, when Lee Sang-hoon was Samsung's CFO. He was appointed chairman in March 2018, when Samsung split the chairman and CEO roles for the first time. The company thought that decision would increase transparency following a bribery scandal that involved Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, better known as Jay Y. Lee in the West. The fallout of that saga is still ongoing: Jay Y. Lee is facing a retrial after bribing Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of then-South Korea president Park Geun-hye. He was found guilty of perjury, embezzlement and bribery in August 2017 and sentenced to five years in jail. Jay Y. Lee was released after 12 months, however, and given a four-year probation period instead.