Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong returned to prison on Thursday after an appendectomy and recuperating in a private hospital for 27 days.

Lee suffered a perforated appendix on March 17 and underwent surgery. He had a high fever two days before the surgery but apparently endured the pain because he did not want “special treatment.”

He was diagnosed with appendicitis by a prison doctor and taken to nearby Hallym University Medical Center but then transferred to Samsung Medical Center in Seoul for surgery as an emergency room doctor worried that his appendix could rupture.

Doctors had to remove a portion of his large intestine, which had become infected by the perforated appendix. He was scheduled to be released from hospital last week but had to spend more time recovering because his wound had not healed fully.

Sources say he lost 7 kg due to a persistent fever and inability to eat solid foods after surgery. Some of his doctors advised Lee to stay longer in hospital, but Lee insisted on returning to jail.

A van carrying Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong heads to the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province on Thursday. /Yonhap

He is set to appear in court in yet another case on charges of accounting irregularities involving Samsung Biologics that are suspected of aiding his takeover of control of the publicly traded conglomerate. Lee reportedly did not want to be accused of getting special treatment if he missed the trial because he was still in hospital.

The Justice Ministry will allow him to go back to Samsung Medical Center for follow-up treatment, a spokesman said. Lee has been incarcerated in a solitary cell since the Supreme Court in January upheld his two-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

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