By Park Si-soo
A grandson of Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chul was found dead in an apparent suicide in Seoul, police said Wednesday, becoming the second person in the family to kill themselves.
The body of Lee Jae-chan, 46, was found at his apartment’s outdoor parking lot in Yongsan at around by 7 a.m. by an apartment manager, police said.
“I heard a loud sound near the parking lot. When I rushed to the scene, I found a man wearing a white shirt on the ground bleeding from his head,” he was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.
In 2005, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s youngest daughter, Lee Yoon-hyung, killed herself in New York.
Police have opened an investigation to confirm the cause of Lee Jae-chan’s death. They suspect he jumped from his home on the fifth floor of the apartment.
Medical staff at Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital, where the body was taken, concluded the cause of death was due to severe brain and chest trauma.
His neighbors suspect he struggled with depression.
“He frequently came home late so few knew him well,” a 76-year-old man who lives in the same building told a daily. “Sometimes, I heard him yelling late at night. So there were rumors that he suffered from depression.”
Lee lived alone in his apartment for the past five years, separated from his wife and family, according to the police.
He was formerly CEO of Saehan Construction, an affiliate of Saehan Group founded in 1997 by his father Lee Chang-hee. But he has remained jobless since 2000 when he stepped down from the seat after the company’s collapse. His father died of leukemia in 1991.
Saehan Group was established after Saehan Industries' synthetics unit was spun off from Samsung Group.
The group once ranked as the 27th-largest business entity in the country with 12 affiliates, but sold or merged most of its money-losing businesses in 2000 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis that engulfed the nation.
After studying business management in the United States, he tied the knot with a daughter of former Dong Ah Group Chairman Choi Won-seok. But for unclear reasons, they were living separately. Samsung has made no official response to the death.