The 71-year-old wife of South Korea's richest man Lee Kun-hee suspended her social life Monday as a prolific buyer of art who has been regarded as a big player in the local art scene.
Hong Ra-hee gave up her plural commandership at the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, and Ho-am Art Museum, museum operators said, declining to give details.
She gained experience as a museum art director in 1995 at Ho-am Art Museum built by her father-in-law and Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul. The private museum in Yongin about 40 kilometers (24 miles) south of Seoul holds a number of traditional Korean paintings and art pieces.
Hong also had been regarded as one of South Korea's biggest collector of contemporary art since she established Leeum in 2004 near her house in Seoul. Leeum comprises two parts that house traditional Korean art and contemporary art.
Although not involved in Samsung's management, Hong had been active in running the museum even after her husband remained bedridden for three years at a hospital after being hit by a stroke.
Hong's resignation came after her only son, Jay Y. Lee, the de facto head of Samsung group, was arrested and indicted for bribing President Park Geun-hye's crony, Choi Soon-sil, who is on trial for meddling in state affairs and pocketing money from top conglomerates.
The junior Lee became the first business leader to be tried in a corruption scandal that fanned public sentiment against corporate donations, which have long been a controversial issue in South Korea due to concern about collusive ties between businessmen and politicians.
The arrest has sent Samsung's global brand image nosediving. Hong's son was accused of donating or pledging some 43 billion won (38 million US dollars) to Choi.
Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org