But the company’s rise to the top has been tainted with controversy. Samsung is the quintessential example of a chaebol, that uniquely Korean brand of conglomerate that mixes Confucian values with family ties and government influence. Accusations of corruption and cozy establishment connections, conviction over an embezzlement scandal, strained family relationships that threaten the traditional chaebol structure, and a bruising patent battle with Apple have taken the polish off Samsung’s — and Lee’s — glittering business record. Who is Lee Kun-hee, and how has he managed to survive this delicate balance of stress and success? And where next for the company, which still yearns to be taken seriously as a force for innovation?