Samsung Electronics President Lee Jae-yong left for the U.S. to attend a memorial service for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs that was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Monday (KST).
As Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly invited Lee to the private service, attention is being paid to how it will affect the patent battle being waged between the two firms in 10 countries. The service will be held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
Lee said his relationship with Jobs, who passed away on Oct. 5 at age 56 after a long fight with pancreatic cancer, was complicated.
"Steve Jobs was a bit hot-tempered and picky, so he would often complain on the phone for an hour or so whenever he had a dispute. We were competitors, but we also grew fond of each other to the point where he would be the first to call and console me whenever I was encountering difficulties," Lee told the press at Gimpo Airport on Sunday evening.
In 2005, when Samsung was about to clinch a deal to supply flash memory chips to Apple, Jobs invited Lee to dinner at his home, Lee recalled.
"As far as I know, only friends and close family members are usually invited to memorial services like this," Lee said. "Apple is one of Samsung's most important clients, and we have developed a solid partnership. But that's a separate matter from the legal disputes between the two companies in areas where they compete," he added.
The IT industry has been speculating as to whether Lee will meet separately with Cook after the service, given that the invitation was directly extended by the Apple CEO.
"I will have a chance to meet Cook, but I'm not going there for business purposes. I'm going to pay tribute to Steve Jobs, and I don't know what I will talk about with Cook," Lee said.