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Funeral service of late Lotte founder held


A funeral ceremony for Shin Kyuk-ho, the late founder and honorary chairman of South Korea's Lotte Group, was held Wednesday as his family and associates commemorated his legacy and accomplishments as chief of the retail giant.

Shin, who had built the country's fifth-largest conglomerate spanning from food to hotel business, died of a chronic illness due to age-related symptoms on Sunday. He was 99.

The ceremony was held with the participation of more than 1,400 family members and company officials at Lotte World Mall in eastern Seoul.

Shin's two sons -- Dong-joo and Dong-bin, who had been at the center of a group leadership fight -- also were present at the ceremony.

The two estranged brothers had been part of the high-profile family feud over succession at the group as the two had controlled the company's operations in Japan and South Korea, respectively.

Lotte, which started as a small chewing gum manufacturer in Japan in the late 1940s, has a business portfolio ranging from retail and hotels to entertainment and chemicals across South Korea and Japan.

Former Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo, who headed Shin's funeral committee, and former United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon also gave eulogies.

"The late founder made a big contribution to South Korea's economic development when our country was trying to build up from debris after suffering from war," Ban said.

Shin was one of the first-generation founders of the country's chaebol, or family-controlled business groups, who rebuilt the war-torn country that has now become Asia's fourth-largest economy.

With his death, all of the first-generation founders of business groups -- Samsung, Hyundai, LG, Lotte and SK -- have died.

The ceremony ended with a car carrying Shin's coffin circling around Lotte World Tower before leaving for the burial site. The country's tallest 123-story skyscraper, a household name in the country, had long been a dream for the late entrepreneur.

The late Shin later stepped down from all of his positions in Lotte's operations in both Japan and Korea, and had since served a symbolic role.

In 2017, he was on the brink of facing his last days in prison after he was sentenced to four years and fined 3.5 billion won ($2.97 million) for embezzlement and breach of trust.

Shin, however, was allowed to remain free on health issues and has since suffered from various diseases of old age, including dementia.

Lotte Group has dozens of affiliates, including Lotte Shopping Co., Lotte Chemical Corp. and Lotte Engineering & Construction Co. (Yonhap)