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Samsung Electronics in Seoul (Photo by Koji Uema)

The Samsung empire at 80

Government connections that helped the group grow are coming back to haunt it

KIM JAEWON, Nikkei staff writer | South Korea

SEOUL -- Eight decades ago, there was little indication that a fruit wholesaler in Daegu, an industrial city in southeastern South Korea, would one day become a sprawling business empire with operations spanning electronics, shipbuilding, insurance, medicine and more.

Lee Byung-chull set up Samsung Commercial Co. -- the forerunner of today's Samsung C&T -- in 1938, when he was 28. The company started out exporting fruit and dried fish to Manchuria and China.

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