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legal form Corporation
founding March 1, 1938
Seat Seoul South KoreaKorea SouthSouth Korea 
management CEOs of the individual companies (until 2008 Lee Kun-hee )
Number of employees 309,630 (2018)
sales 188.15 billion euros (2018)
Branch Conglomerate, consumer electronics , telecommunications
Status: 2018

Korean spelling
Korean alphabet : 삼성
Hanja : 三星
Revised Romanization : Samseong
McCune-Reischauer : Saturday

The Samsung Group is a conglomerate ( Jaebeol ) from South Korea . In 2018, the Samsung Group employed around 310,000 people. The group's flagship is Samsung Electronics , the world's largest manufacturer of DRAM , NAND flash memory, SSD , televisions, refrigerators, cell phones and smartphones.

The name Samsung means "three stars" in Korean . The number three is associated with positive things by many Koreans. Lee Byung-chull , the founder of the company, which was strongly influenced by the Japanese economy and society, chose this name in the 1930s in the hope that the company would shine as brightly, tall and eternally as the Japanese companies that were already powerful at the time Mitsubishi ("three diamonds") and Mitsui Group ("three sources").

After the company 's founder passed away in 1987, the group was chaired by a third son, Lee Kun-hee . Since he stepped down as chairman in 2008 due to a scandal, the Samsung Group has been led by the chief executive officers of the individual companies.


Samsung in the 1930s
Samsung SPC-1000 computer from 1982
Samsung Town headquarters in Seoul

The company was on March 1, 1938 in Daegu of Lee Byung-chul as a food trading business founded . After the Second World War and after breaking away from Japanese colonial rule , Lee lost his business due to the chaos in the country. He then rebuilt the business in Seoul . But it was destroyed a second time by the Korean War. After the war, Lee rebuilt his business in the devastated capital of South Korea.

In 1953, Lee founded Cheil Jedang ("Best Sugar") and built the first industrial sugar refinery in South Korea. Cheil Jedang later became the largest food manufacturer in South Korea. After Lee Byung-chull's death, the company was taken over by his eldest son, Lee Maeng-hee. It was separated and independent from the Samsung Group in 1997. Cheil Jedang today represents one of the most important business areas of the CJ Group .

In 1954, Lee Byung-chull had a textile factory built, which became the basis for Cheil Industries. The textile and fashion division is now combined in the Samsung C&T Fashion Group. Samsung later got into the insurance and construction business. With support from the government under President Park Chung-hee , Samsung also got into shipbuilding.

With the subsidiary Samsung Electronics , founded in 1969, Samsung tackled the production of electrotechnical items, with an early focus on entertainment electronics and household appliances. In 1974 Samsung Electronics acquired the near bankrupt Korea Semiconductor. At that time, Lee Kun-hee recognized the great potential of microelectronics. It was also he who saw the great future of DRAM in the digital age in the early 1980s and invested heavily in its development and production.

Other branches in which the large corporation operates are: mechanical engineering , automobiles , insurance , wholesale , real estate and leisure. The then largest private television broadcaster Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was ceded to the state under political pressure in the late 1970s.

In 1983, Samsung took over the Donghwa department store. It was then renamed Shinsegae . Shinsegae was spun off from the Samsung group in 1991 and is now part of the largest retail group in South Korea. The company is run by Lee Myung-hee, daughter of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull and the younger sister of Lee Kun-hee . She is the richest woman in South Korea.

After the Asian crisis in the 1990s, Samsung, like all Jaebeol , had to withdraw from numerous business areas and sold many subsidiaries in order to strengthen its capital base. At the same time, the focus was on a few core areas. Since then, Samsung Electronics has been the main branch of the conglomerate .

Less well known in Europe are the other branches of the company:

Samsung is one of the first major members of the FIDO alliance , which developed the industry standard Universal Second Factor (U2F) for generally applicable two-factor authentication .

After the heart attack of CEO Lee Kun-hee in May 2014, the Samsung Group was restructuring as part of the generation change: the Samsung Techwin armaments division was sold to Hanwha , and several chemical companies were transferred to the Lotte Group . Samsung wants to concentrate more on automotive (Samsung SDI), fintech ( Samsung Pay ) and pharmaceuticals ( Samsung Biologics ). Samsung Everland was merged with Cheil Industries Inc. and then merged with Samsung C&T. Since then, Samsung C&T has been the de facto holding company for the Samsung Group. Elliot Management Corporation, a minority shareholder, resisted and filed a lawsuit against the sale of 5.76% of the company's shares in KCC. However, the lawsuit was dismissed by the Seoul court. However, the restructuring is not yet complete. Next on the agenda is Samsung SDS. The attempt to merge Samsung Heavy Industries with Samsung Engineering, which failed in 2014, could become topical again, as the shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries has suffered greatly due to the enormous decline in orders.

Due to the decline in demand in many sectors abroad, South Korea, which is heavily dependent on exports, has to contend with some problems. As the largest private employer in the country, the Samsung Group is no exception. In the first quarter of 2016, more than 2,800 employees with severance pay left the group's companies (Samsung SDI, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung Engineering and Samsung C&T). Another 2,000 employees should follow by mid-2016. Company executives want to forego part of their salary. At President Park's request, the group hired 14,000 young university graduates in 2015. South Korea has had high unemployment among young people for several years.

At the Extraordinary General Meeting on September 27, 2016, Vice President of Samsung Electronics Lee Jae-yong , Lee Kun-hee's only son, was nominated as an official board member. The title of chairman remains with Lee Kun-hee.

The corona crisis also hit Samsung; the group was number one in the smartphone market until 2020, but was then overtaken by Huawei. According to forecasts, Samsung will sell 53.7 million and Huawei 55.8 million smartphones in 2020.


Electronics industry

  • Samsung Electro-Mechanics
The company, founded in 1973, has 29,000 employees and operates eight production sites in four countries. The company's headquarters are in Suwon .
Samsung Electro-Mechanics manufactures electronic components for various electronic products ( automotive electronics , computers , digital cameras , flat screens , game consoles , hard drives , LED lights , smartphones , printers , wearables , etc.). This includes:
The company wants to concentrate more on electronics for cars. It is expected that the demand for electronic components will greatly increase due to self-driving vehicles .

Mechanical engineering and heavy industry

Samsung SE210 LC-3 track excavator

Financial services

  • Samsung Life Insurance
  • Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance
  • Samsung Card
  • Samsung Securities
  • Samsung Asset Management
  • Samsung Venture Investment

Services and miscellaneous

  • Samsung C&T Trading & Investment Group
  • Samsung C&T Fashion Group
  • Samsung C&T Resort & Construction Group
  • Hotel Shilla
Since 1979 the company has been operating a traditional-style premium hotel with the brand "The Shilla". There are now two hotels: one in Seoul and one on Jeju Island . Since 2013 the company has operated the “Shilla Stay” brand in the upscale segment. There are eight hotels in South Korea and a ninth is currently being built in Cheonan . At the beginning of 2016, Hotel Shilla was awarded the contract to build a hotel in the traditional Hanok architectural style in Seoul. The total investment is US $ 246.2 million. The new hotel should be ready by 2020.
In addition, the company has also been active in the duty-free business since 1986 with the “The Shilla Duty Free” brand . The company operates both domestically (Seoul, Jeju, the international airport Incheon and the Gimpo Airport ) and abroad ( Singapore Airport , Macau airport ) Duty-free shops. The company also owns two cosmetics shops with the “Sweetmay” brand in Macau and Hong Kong. In addition, Shilla Duty Free operates the HDC Shilla Duty Free business in Yongsan / Seoul with Hyundai Department Co. The store, which opened in March 2016, is expected to have daily sales of $ 925,000. The company is run by Lee Boo-jin , Lee Kun-hee's eldest daughter .
  • Cheil Worldwide
  • S-1 Corporation
  • Samsung Medical Center
  • Samsung Economic Research Institute
  • Samsung Biologics
Samsung Biologics is a Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) and a contract manufacturer for biologics , i.e. drugs that are obtained using biotechnological methods. The company already has three production facilities and is building a fourth factory in Songdo with a capacity of 256,000 liters. This would bring the company its production capacity to 620,000 liters. The fourth factory is expected to be completed in 2022. With the IPO in October 2016, the company was able to raise 2.25 trillion. Collect won (approximately $ 2 billion).
  • Samsung Bioepis
Samsung Bioepis is a joint venture between Samsung Biologics and the US biotechnology company Biogen . The company also works closely with the US pharmaceutical company MSD on research and marketing. Samsung Bioepis aims to grow into a leading company in the rapidly growing biosimilars market . The biosimilars are biotechnologically manufactured imitation products of the biologics . They may be produced and marketed after the original patent protection period has expired. However, they are subject to a stricter approval process than generics with chemically synthetic active ingredients. The company, which was only founded in 2012, succeeded in developing Benepali , a biosimilar to the reference product Enbrel from Amgen and Pfizer (active ingredient: Etanercept ). Samsung Bioepis' biosimilar Flixabi (active ingredient: infliximab , reference product Remicade ) was also approved by the European Commission in 2016 . Imraldi ( adalimumab ) and Ontruzant ( trastuzumab ) followed in 2017 . The company has a number of other biosimilars in the pipeline. The IPO planned for the beginning of 2016 was postponed due to the poor market environment.
  • Samsung world story
Samsung Welstory is active in the food distribution and catering sector and is No. 2 in South Korea behind CJ Freshway. Well-known gastronomy brands are: welstory, delacourt, health giving, FRESIS. The wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsung C&T, like its competitor CJ Freshway, wants to grow in the growth market of China and has founded a joint venture with the Japanese market leader Kokubu Group and the Chinese agricultural company Shanghai Yinlong Agricultural Development Co.

Previous companies

In 2014, Samsung Techwin, which specializes in armaments, optoelectronics, surveillance technology and aeronautics, was sold to the South Korean Hanwha Group for 1.63 billion US dollars, together with Samsung Thales, Samsung General Chemicals and Samsung Total .

  • Samsung Thales
  • Samsung Petrochemical

Samsung Petrochemical and Samsung General Chemicals merged in 2014. The combined company continued to operate as Samsung General Chemicals.

  • Samsung General Chemicals
  • Samsung Total
  • Samsung Fine Chemicals

In 2015, 90% of the shares in Samsung SDI, 31.5% of the shares in Samsung Fine Chemical and 49% of the shares in the joint venture Samsung BP Chemical were sold to the Japanese-South Korean conglomerate Lotte .

  • Samsung BP Chemicals
  • Samsung Everland

The de facto holding company with amusement park, fashion store and golf courses was renamed Samsung Cheil Industries. However, the theme park will keep the name Everland.


In Europe, the group had two factories in Catalonia and Billingham in the UK (opened in 1995) until 2004 . These locations with a total of around 900 employees were relocated to Galanta in Slovakia by 2005 as part of a cost-saving program (LCD screens, DVD devices and logistics center). In 2007, construction began on another plant in western Slovakia for the production of LCD modules in Trnava . The investments of around 150 million euros were subsidized by Slovakia with 70 million euros. By 2010 the number of employees at both locations had risen to around 3,000. For the first time in 2011, the relocation of production to another European country was considered, but could be averted by further subsidy commitments by the Slovak state for further investments in Galanta. In 2018, Samsung finally announced that it would close the plant in Trnava and merge it with the plant in Galanta.



In August 2005, a civil rights movement published a list called the "X-Files" of 278 influential people who received or had received salaries from Samsung, including two ex-prime ministers. New evidence also surfaced that the family-run company intervened in the 1997 presidential campaign with donations. There was talk of "Samsunggate" and the "Republic of Samsung".

Lee Yong-chul, a former advisor to South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun , publicly announced in mid-November 2007 that Samsung had offered a cash bribe of 5445 million won (€ 3,561,730) in January 2004. Photos of the money taken by Lee were published in the press on November 19, 2007. Lee's testimony confirms allegations made in early November 2007 by former Samsung attorney Kim Yong-chul that Samsung, with the help of CEO Lee Kun-hee, had an entire network for bribing agents, law enforcement officers, tax officials, journalists and academics. The bribed people named by Kim Yong-chul so far are former prosecutor and head of the Korea Independent Commission Against Corruption Lee Jong-baek and Lee Gui-nam , director of the Central Investigation Bureau , a law enforcement division and investigation of corruption allegations in industry and politics. The accused and Samsung rejected the allegations as baseless.

On February 17, 2017, the vice-president and de facto head of the Samsung group Lee Jae-yong was taken into custody. He is accused of perjury, embezzlement and bribery. Among other things, he is said to have arranged for 43 billion won (approx. 36 million US dollars) to be paid to “letterbox companies” disguised as foundations of Choi Soon-sil , a long-time friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye . In return, the government is said to have helped out with the merger of the Samsung subsidiary Cheil Industries with Samsung C&T. Lee's defenders deny the allegation. Lee's arrest is related to the largest scandal in South Korea, known in South Korea as the Choi Soon-sil scandal . If convicted, Lee faces more than ten years in prison. In South Korea, a stricter anti-corruption law was introduced just last year, which prohibits generous gifts and restaurant invitations to government employees. On February 27, 2017, the public prosecutor brought charges of bribery and embezzlement against Lee and four other top executives of the company, including chief strategy officer Choi Gee-sung .

Cartel formation

In May 2010, Samsung was fined more than 145 million euros. The company was part of a price cartel for DRAMs, which consisted of ten companies and existed from July 1, 1998 to June 15, 2002 in the EEA.

In October 2011, the Samsung Corning Precision Materials division was sentenced by the EU together with Nippon Electric , Schott AG and Asahi Glass to a total fine of 128.7 million euros for illegal price fixing between 1999 and 2004 . The cartel had negotiated the prices of picture tube glass for televisions and computer screens. Samsung Corning Precision Materials was spared a penalty as the company benefited from the Commission's leniency program.

working conditions

Leukemia among employees at a production site in South Korea has been linked to working conditions in the semiconductor industry . A court found that an employee who died of blood cancer "was exposed to various toxic chemicals on a prolonged basis while at work." The court ordered Samsung to pay compensation. Environmental group Greenpeace called Samsung because of cancer cases as one of the "worst company in the world" and awarded the abusive price Public Eye People's Award 2012 .

Victims and bereaved have come together in the Sharps organization. They accuse Samsung that a total of around 150 employees have fallen ill due to inadequate occupational safety measures. As of June 2018, the number of documented cases has risen to 320 and the death toll to 118. In November 2018, Samsung apologized to those affected and agreed to pay compensation for pain and suffering.


In South Korea, Samsung has its own e-sports - factory team with the name Samsung Galaxy (formerly Samsung KHAN). Samsung is also a sponsor of the Olympic torch relay .

The sponsorship for the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in August 2009, at which Samsung was the main sponsor, was the largest sponsorship event in Samsung's history to date.

Samsung also partially sponsors YouTubers (e.g. Casey Neistat).


  • Eun Y. Kim, Edward C. Valdez: Samsung 3.0: Talent, Technology and Timing , CEO International, 2013, ISBN 978-1-886291-06-5 .
  • Cea-jin Chang: Sony vs Samsung: The Inside Story of the Electronics Giants' Battle For Global Supremacy , John Wiley & Sons, 2008, ISBN 978-0-470-82371-2
  • Dieter Schneidewind: Economic Wonderland South Korea , Springer Gabler, 2013, ISBN 978-3-658-00368-5
  • Myung-oak Kim, Sam Jaffe: The New Korea - An Inside Look At South Korea's Economic Rise , Amacom, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8144-1489-7

Web links

Commons : Samsung  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  20. Samsung display
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  22. Samsung Engineering
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  30. Samsung C&T Resort & Construction Group ( Memento of the original from May 25, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  31. ^ Hotel Shilla
  32. Kim Eun-jung: Hotel Shilla to showcase upscale hanok hotel in Seoul. Yonhap News, March 3, 2016, accessed June 28, 2016 .
  33. ^ Son Ji-young: Shilla tops new duty-free shops in daily sales. The Korea Herald, May 31, 2016, accessed June 28, 2016 .
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  35. ^ S1 Corporation
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  40. Samsung Bioepis
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  58. Antitrust law: Commission fines DRAM manufacturer with 331 million euros for price cartel and reaches first settlement in a cartel case
  59. Schott has to pay a fine of 40 million , dpa report from October 20, 2011
  60. Antitrust law: In the fourth cartel settlement to date, the Commission imposes a fine of EUR 128 million on CRT glass manufacturers
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  62. Nominated for the Public Eye People's Award 2012 ( Memento from November 4, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
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