Samsung chairman caught in sex scandal

The seven-hour- long video was made public apparently after Samsung refused to buckle under a blackmail bid.
The seven-hour- long video was made public apparently after Samsung refused to buckle under a blackmail bid.PHOTO: REUTERS

Secretly filmed footage made public shows he hired up to 5 sex workers on several occasions

SEOUL • Secretly recorded footage of Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun Hee hiring multiple sex workers on several occasions has been made public, apparently after the South Korean conglomerate refused to buckle under a blackmail attempt.

In a terse statement reacting to the footage made public by a local news outlet that claimed to have received it in April from an anonymous informant, Samsung said that while it was "discomforted", it had no comment on a "personal matter" of Mr Lee, 74, reported The Korea Times.

The company also said it was "regretful" that such personal issues are causing a stir.

According to the news outlet that made the video public, Newstapa, the seven-hour-long video was taken over five occasions between December 2011 and June 2013. The recordings were made at Mr Lee's residence in Samseong-dong, as well as a secret residence in Nonhyeon-dong, both in southern Seoul.

Up to five women presumed to be in their 20s and 30s appeared in each of the meetings. All of them are alleged to be workers at bars or other entertainment establishments.

Conversations in the video allegedly between Mr Lee and the women indicated that they were having sex. According to the news outlet, the chairman paid each woman around 5 million won (S$6,000) after the trysts.

Up to five women presumed to be in their 20s and 30s appeared in each of the meetings... According to the news outlet, the chairman paid each woman around 5 million won (S$6,000) after the trysts.

It is believed that one of the women in the video secretly made the recording and the blackmail attempt involved at least two accomplices.

The two - revealed only by their surnames Sun and Lee - were jailed for using illegal drugs in 2014, but were released on probation, according to news reports. Their whereabouts have not been confirmed, reported The Korea Herald.

Samsung confirmed that it had received a call demanding money in exchange for the video. Newstapa said the conglomerate did not respond because it did not consider the demand credible, reported The Korea Times.

Mr Lee has been hospitalised since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and Samsung said he has been unconscious since then.

Mr Lee's only son, Mr Lee Jae Yong, 48, is expected to take over the reins of the firm, though no official announcement has been made.

The younger Mr Lee has been the acting chief of the group since his father's near-fatal heart attack.

He has been credited for recent restructuring moves by the group that involved high-profile splits, mergers and asset sales.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 24, 2016, with the headline 'Samsung chairman caught in sex scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe