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Lotte founder testifies over his mental status

Shin Kyuk-ho, founder of Korean retail giant Lotte Group, testified at a Seoul court Wednesday to demonstrate his mental status, marking a new twist in the bitter feud over control of the group. 

Shin Kyuk-ho, founder of Korean retail giant Lotte Group, walks into a court room at Seoul Family Court on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Shin Kyuk-ho, founder of Korean retail giant Lotte Group, walks into a court room at Seoul Family Court on Wednesday. (Yonhap)


The 93-year-old Lotte founder walked into a court room at the Seoul Family Court and told judges that his ability to make judgement is the same as in his 50s, his lawyer told reporters. The court hearing was held to review a request made by his younger sister to pick a legal guardian for him. Shin Jung-sook, the founder’s fourth sister, claimed her aging brother is no longer capable of making consistent decisions.

“Shin Kyuk-ho took a decision to attend the court after hearing an explanation from (his) lawyer,” said a senior official at SDJ Corporation, a company established by the founder’s elder son Shin Dong-joo after he lost the chairmanship to his younger brother Shin Dong-bin. “This shows how determined he is to talk about his condition.”

Shin’s testimony, as well as the court’s decision, is expected to play a crucial role in the ugly succession battle that has been ongoing for months.

Dong-bin ousted his brother after a bitter fraternal competition last year. He also won control over the nation’s fifth-largest conglomerate, after shareholders decided to sack his elder brother. Dong-joo was stripped from the company’s registered executive position -- leaving him with no foothold in Lotte Group Korea and Japan apart from shares.

Dong-joo, however, has been claiming that he is the legitimate successor named by his father, while Dong-bin has claimed that his father can no longer make coherent judgements.

By Cho Chung-un(christory@heraldcorp.com)

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