Court rules in favor of Lee in divorce lawsuit

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Court rules in favor of Lee in divorce lawsuit

The Suwon District Court on Thursday granted parental and custodial rights to Samsung heiress and Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin, 46, who has sought to end her 17-year marriage with husband Im Woo-jae, 48, a former vice president of Samsung Electro-Mechanics.

The initial ruling comes more than a year after Lee, the first daughter of bedridden Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, applied for a divorce settlement and parental rights designation with the court in October 2014. She filed a divorce suit last summer after two rounds of failed settlements with Im, who refused to accept her demands, claiming he wants to keep the family together.

Lee Boo-jin has become the second child of Lee Kun-hee to divorce. Lee Jae-yong, the Samsung vice chairman and acting chairman, divorced in 2009.

With the Thursday ruling, Lee Boo-jin will retain both parental and custodial rights of their 9-year-old son. Her husband was given the right to meet with the son once a month - from 2 p.m. on Saturday till 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Im is poised to file an appeal.

“We can’t understand the ruling,” his lawyer told reporters. “It’s hard to find a precedent in which both parental and custodial rights are handed over to a single parent.”

The trial did not involve asset division and alimony.

“There is no room for conflict [over Lee’s assets] because [Lee] gained the majority of the fortune before she tied the knot,” her lawyer said.

Neither Lee nor Im showed up at the high-profile trial.

Their marriage made headlines in August 1999 as the heiress chose to marry an average Joe despite strong opposition from her parents. Her decision went against expectations that she might follow the tradition of marrying among chaebol descendants out of convenience.

Lee and Im met in 1995 while volunteering at a care facility for the disabled. She was working as an entry-level employee at Samsung’s welfare foundation after graduating from Yonsei University’s child welfare department. Im was working for Samsung’s security arm S-1 after graduating from Dankook University with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.

After their marriage, he earned an MBA from MIT and worked at Samsung C&T’s Tokyo branch and Samsung Electronics’ U.S. headquarters. He was demoted last month from vice president at Samsung Electro-Mechanics, a post he had held since 2011, to standing adviser.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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