The Korea Herald


[SUPER RICH] Hansol’s golden boy highlights family’s darker past

By Suk Gee-hyun

Published : Feb. 24, 2015 - 20:01

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A grandson of Hansol Group founder Lee In-hee was indicted last week for neglecting his compulsory national service, bringing public attention to the latest revelation of draft-dodging attempts by members of the pan-Samsung dynasty.

Lee In-hee is the eldest daughter of the late Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull and older sister of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee. Hansol Group is about the 40th-largest business group in Korea by assets.

According to the prosecutors, the 24-year-old grandson surnamed Cho was accused of having spent nine months of his military duty alone at a studio in Seoul in 2013, though he was assigned to work at a mold manufacturing company. His full name remains undisclosed because the case is still under investigation, prosecutors said.

Cho served an alternative military service ― granted to people with exceptional talent in academic, industrial or technical fields ― instead of the active military duty of 21 months mandated to all males aged 18 to 35. Investigators said he is likely to be ordered to re-serve his term.

Still, Cho is one of the handful male descendants of Lee Byung-chull who have actually enlisted themselves for conscription. According to news reports and civic activists, close to 73 percent of men from the clan have been exempted from their national service, due to various reasons including physical incapability.

In fact, Cho’s father and Lee In-hee’s son, Cho Dong-man, is no stranger to controversy, either.

The former Hansol Group vice chairman topped the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s list of 6,979 habitual tax defaulters in 2014 for the third consecutive year. The National Tax Service data in 2013 also notes that he has 71.5 billion won in due taxes.

Cho Dong-man’s tax delinquency dates back to 1999 when he was found to have embezzled about 190 billion won he had raked in by selling KT stocks.

He was imposed with 60 billion won in national tax and 8.4 billion won in local taxes but refused to pay, claiming that he has no assets after shutting down some affiliates and having several others go bankrupt.

A Hansol Group spokesman declined to talk about the father and son, citing that the senior Cho left the company in the early 2000s.

“We have nothing to say about the two cases. The former vice chairman and his son have no stake in Hansol’s current business,” the spokesperson said.

By Suk Gee-hyun (