September 22, 2015 12:53
Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee has spent his 500th day in hospital since falling into a coma after a heart attack on May 10, 2014.
Lee is given physical therapy twice a day at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul but remains unresponsive.
A Samsung spokesman claimed Lee is "growing increasingly aware" of sounds and is breathing on his own without the aid of a respirator.
"He is undergoing one or two hours of physical rehabilitation a day while in his wheelchair," the spokesman added.
Rumors circulated in the stock market early this year that Lee was nearing death, but Samsung rushed to quell them by circulating pictures of the chairman.
Samsung Medical Center put together a special team of doctors to tend to Lee's heart condition. Lee suffered from diabetes, but the company says his physical condition has actually improved due to a healthy diet.
"He could live another 10 years," the spokesman said.
But the conglomerate has downsized his personal staff and dispatched them to other divisions.
Samsung's head of corporate strategy, Choi Gee-sung, makes regular visits to Lee in hospital, and his son Lee Jae-yong, who has taken over the running of the conglomerate, visits daily unless he is on an overseas trip or otherwise busy.
The number of get-well messages from Samsung staff surpassed 11,000 this month.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com