Samsung Group's heir made a deep bow in apology for a Samsung hospital's role over the recent spreading of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in South Korea.
Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, who also goes by Jay Y Lee, apologized to patients and victims who contracted the virus at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. It was his first public speech since succeeding his father at the helm of the Samsung Foundation last month. The charity foundation owns the Samsung hospital.
There are now 175 confirmed cases of what is the largest outbreak outside of Saudi Arabia. Eighty five of those cases were from patients, relatives, staff members, and visitors of Samsung Medical Center.
Samsung has received mounting criticism of what has been perceived as poor containment of the virus.
"I bow my head and offer my sincere apologies to the nation for the immense suffering and concern that Samsung Medical Center has caused," said Lee in the televised address from Samsung's headquarters in Seoul.
"I want to apologize especially to those who have passed away from MERS, and their bereaved relatives, the patients, and all those who have suffered from the disease. I myself feel devastated and personally responsible," he added.
The vice chairman promised the best efforts from the hospital, saying they would root out the cause of the mishap, and innovate at the hospital to prevent future crises.
Lee visited the anti-MERS headquarters in the hospital last week, and met with staff to discuss solutions.
The vice chairman has been the de facto boss of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest conglomerate, since his father, Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized after a heart attack. Lee the elder is currently in the same hospital.
Lee the younger mentioned his father's hospitalization, which has been ongoing for over a year, during his speech, and said he understands the frustration felt by the relatives of patients.
His apology is the first by an owning family member of Samsung since 2008.