Lee Seo Hyun is the second daughter and the youngest child of Samsung chairman Lee Kun Hee. Born on September 20, 1973, she is touted as the youngest billionaire at age 49, owning 5.47 percent of the company’s stock, with a net worth of $1.5 billion, according to Forbes.
As one of the heirs to the Samsung conglomerate, she is being groomed to someday take over the reins of business within the number one chaebol in Korea. But there is more to her personality that makes her a fascinating character in the highly challenging and competitive world of Samsung.
Lee Seo Hyun is considered the artistic one in the family. She has always been interested in fashion. This is why after graduating from Seoul Arts High School, she moved to the United States in the late 1990s to study at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Some notable alumni from this school include Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, and Anna Sui.
In 2002, she joined Cheil Industries, a top apparel and textile company affiliated with Samsung, where she worked for more than fifteen years. The company later merged with Samsung C&T. As head of the firm’s fashion division, Lee launched the SPA brand 8seconds and introduced Italy’s 10 Corso Como, a shopping and dining complex that showcased fashion, music, design, cuisine, and culture.
Lee Seo Hyun had many achievements and firsts in her career. In 2010, Lee Seo Hyun became the first Korean to be an advisory Board Member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Forbes Asia named her one of Asia’s most powerful businesswomen in 2011. She was also the only Korean on Forbes’ list of Global Young Billionaires in 2013.
She was also considered one of the country’s fashionistas, with urban chic identified as her signature style. She was praised for her fashion sense and openness to trying different styles. According to an industry insider, Lee was “someone who doesn’t necessarily need a stylist because she knows exactly what she wants to wear every day. She is never afraid of trying something new, even wearing some daring accessories.”
Over the years, Lee Seo Hyun was promoted to Samsung Group Divisional President in recognition of her accomplishments in expanding the group’s fashion business through the strengthening of their women’s and retail businesses, introducing imported brands, and acquiring Colombo Via Della Spiga, an Italian brand of luxury leather goods.
Under her tutelage, the fashion division managed inventory purchases, shipping, warehousing, and licensing for brands such as Diesel Kids and Catharine Malandrino. The company successfully launched Bean Pole, a “neo-traditional” Korean fashion brand, through her leadership.
In 2018, Lee Seo Hyun left Samsung C&T to focus on the company’s philanthropic efforts by heading the Samsung Welfare Foundation and the new operation committee at the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. The Samsung Welfare Foundation regularly gives back to the community by establishing Child Care Centers in low-income neighborhoods, among other philanthropic endeavors. In August of this year, she was also tapped as an advisor to the corporate social responsibility team at Samsung’s global research center.
Lee Seo Hyun also managed to nurture her own family life. She married Kim Jae Yeol, the second son of former Dong-A Ilbo honorary president Kim Byung-Kwan in 2000. The couple has four children.