Lee Kun-hee, who built Samsung into a global giant of smartphones, televisions and computer chips but was twice convicted — and, in a pattern that has become typical in South Korea, twice pardoned — for white-collar crimes committed along the way, died on Sunday in Seoul, the South Korean capital. He was 78.
Samsung announced the death but did not specify the cause. Mr. Lee had been incapacitated since a heart attack in 2014.
When Mr. Lee took the helm at Samsung Group in 1987, after the death of his father and the conglomerate’s founder, Lee Byung-chull, many in the West knew the group’s electronics unit only as a maker of cheap televisions and unreliable microwaves sold in discount stores.