Yoon-Woo Lee


Yoon-Woo Lee
Associated organizations
Samsung Electronics
Fields of study
IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal


Yoon-Woo Lee’s vision and leadership established Korea as a global leader in producing semiconductor memory chips and liquid-crystal-display (LCD) technologies and helped build Samsung Electronics into the world’s largest electronics company. At a time when Korea had no established semiconductor industry, Mr. Lee helped launch Samsung’s semiconductor business as a young engineer during the early 1970s. In markets dominated by the United States and Japan, within 20 years Mr. Lee established Samsung as one of the major suppliers of semiconductor technology for memory and display applications, placing Korea on the semiconductor map in the process. Under Mr. Lee’s leadership, during the 1990s Samsung emerged as a leader in dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and static RAM (SRAM) for the computer industry. By 2002, Mr. Lee drove Samsung’s introduction of flash memory into the marketplace, enabling the memory cards and USB drives that have revolutionized how we store information. Through these accomplishments, Samsung became the No. 2 semiconductor manufacturer in the world. Mr. Lee also personally directed Samsung’s entry into the thin-film transistor LCD market in 1995. Within four years, Samsung captured the notebook computer monitor market. By 2002, Mr. Lee led Samsung to the top of the flat-panel display market dominated by Japanese manufacturers, providing LCD technology for notebooks, desktop monitors, and televisions. Mr. Lee has also contributed to 4G wireless advancements and next-generation memory chips including three-dimensional semiconductor memory.

Mr. Lee joined Samsung Electronics in 1968 and has held positions including vice chairman, chief executive officer, chief technology officer, and head of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. In 2012 he was awarded the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal “For pioneering the development of the memory chip and LCD industries in Korea.” He is currently executive advisor with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Seoul, Korea.