Samsung will not mark chief’s birthday this year

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Samsung will not mark chief’s birthday this year

The 73rd birthday of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee arrives on Friday, but there will be no parties this year, as he is still in hospital.

Lee has been hospitalized since last May after suffering from a heart attack. On his birthday, the wealthiest man in Korea usually participates in an award ceremony honoring his conglomerate’s top employees while hosting a New Year banquet to welcome the new presidents of each affiliate. But Samsung said there will be no official events on Lee’s birthday this year.

However, a Samsung insider said on Tuesday that family members, including his son, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, will likely visit the chairman at Samsung Medical Center for a small celebration.

Sources said Lee “reacts” when people call his name and can also make eye contact, but it’s still uncertain whether he has fully recovered cognitive functions or not. He is now reportedly undergoing rehabilitation incorporating familiar items he used in the past and is also being taken on outings in a wheelchair.

According to Samsung officials, Lee is awake for about 15 to 19 hours a day and there is no problem with his breathing.

Choi Gee-sung, who heads corporate strategy for Samsung, visits almost every day to check his condition.

As Lee is absent, Samsung has not released a group-wide New Year’s message, but each affiliate has announced its own resolutions for 2015.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON, KIM HYUN-YE [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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