Hospital says Samsung chief making recovery, denies rumors of worsening condition

May 16, 2014

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun-hee, being treated in hospital after a heart attack Saturday night, is gradually recovering, his doctors said Friday, denying rumors spreading quickly online that he was in a critical condition.

Lee Kun-hee

Lee Kun-hee

“Chairman Lee’s condition is getting better,” Yoon Soon-bong, the president of Samsung Medical Center (SMC), told reporters.  ”If the situation had become worse, I would not be here (to meet reporters),” Yoon said, adding Lee was still in sedation for treatment.

The comments failed to end speculation that Lee’s condition was deteriorating. Rumors spread online and through SNS that the tycoon was in a critical condition.

A local media outlet actually reported during the day that Lee had died earlier Friday but the company and the hospital were keeping it hush.

SMC responded to the speculation through its official blog in the afternoon. “The rumors going around about Chairman Lee being in critical condition are absolutely untrue,” the blog posting said.

Earlier this week, doctors said it may be a while before Lee regains consciousness because of the sedatives used following a hypothermia treatment, which prevents the generation of toxic material in blood vessels by slowing cell metabolism. Lee recovered his normal temperature Tuesday.

The SMC said such an approach was necessary given Lee’s age and his medical history, which includes lung surgery in the late 1990s and respiratory complications since then.

Samsung Group also confirmed Lee’s condition and denied the rumors.

“(Lee) is gradually recovering in a very stable condition, and the medical team is taking a slow approach for safe and complete treatment,” the group’s official blog said.