Samgung chief Lee to visit NKorea for Moon-Kim summit

Sam Kim

Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., will join President Moon Jae-in’s delegation to Pyongyang this week in a further sign of thawing relations between the South Korean government and its biggest company.

Lee is among 17 business leaders accompanying Moon to a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, according to a statement from the president’s office. SK Chairman Chey Tae-won and the head of LG Corp., Koo Kwang-mo, will also join the delegation.

Samsung doesn’t currently operate any business in North Korea, a country under international sanctions for its development of nuclear weapons. Moon’s office said the summit – the president’s third with Kim since he took office last year – will help improve economic cooperation between the two countries. It didn’t elaborate on Samsung’s role.

Moon won election vowing to cut murky ties between business and politics and his office has backed a special investigator charging Lee with bribery.

Lee, 50, is heading to North Korea while on a suspended prison sentence after being convicted of bribing a confidante of Moon’s predecessor, Park Geun-hye. He has denied wrongdoing and appealed the ruling with the Supreme Court. Samsung Electronics is the most profitable unit of a conglomerate that has interests in a broad range of industries, including life insurance, construction and energy.