Collective wealth of Korea’s 50 richest on Forbes 2022 list drops 17%
Internet giant Kakao’s Kim Beom-su is No. 1 for the first time
SINGAPORE (April 21, 2022) – The combined wealth of tycoons on the 2022 Forbes list of Korea’s 50 richest has shrunk 17% to $130 billion from $156 billion in 2021. For the first time in a decade, none of the billionaires in the list does have a double – Fortunes. The complete list is available here as well as in the April/May issue of Forbes Asia and the June issue of Forbes Korea.
Although South Korea’s export-driven economy grew 4% in 2021, its stock market was the second-worst in Asia over the past 12 months. As interest rates rose and investors retreated, the benchmark Kospi index has fallen 13% since fortunes were last measured in May 2021.
Kakao founder and self-made billionaire Kim Beom-su is the new No. 1 with $9.6 billion. His fortune shrunk by $1 billion from a year ago as a series of controversies weighed on the internet giant’s shares. Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee retains second place with $9.2 billion. His fortune also plummeted by $12.4 billion last year.
At No. 3 for the first time is private equity billionaire Michael Kim, who bucked the trend to become this year’s biggest earner by percentage and dollars. Kim more than doubled his net worth to $7.7 billion after New York-based Dyal Capital Partners acquired a minority stake in his private company MBK Partners at a valuation of nearly $9 billion.
Last year’s list leader Seo Jung-jin slipped to No. 4 with $6.9 billion, down $5.6 billion, or 45%. Shares of its drugmaker Celltrion fell amid disappointment that its Covid-19 antibody treatment has yet to gain US regulatory approval. Rounding out the top 5 on the list is Kwon Hyuk-bin of video game developer Smilegate, who also saw his fortune drop to $6.85 billion from $9.5 billion in 2021.
Coupang founder Bom Kim, who was the biggest gainer last year after his company’s successful IPO in March 2021, saw his net worth decline the most in percentage terms. As losses mounted at the New York Stock Exchange-listed e-commerce company, its wealth halved to $3.2 billion. The Harvard Business School dropout ranks 14th, down seven spots from last year.
Three of the seven new faces this year are startup founders. Fintech unicorn Viva Republica’s Lee Seung-gun (#36, $1.2 billion) debuts, also featured on the cover of the April/May issue of Forbes Asia. With a blockbuster fundraising round in the works, Lee is taking his financial super app Toss to its next stage with a big push in Southeast Asia.
Other newcomers include Dunamu co-founders Song Chi-hyung (#9, $3.7 billion) and Kim Hyoung-nyon (#22, $1.95 billion), who run the largest South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchange, Upbit. Yoo Jung-hyun (#15, $3 billion) is making her debut following the sudden death of her husband, Kim Jung-ju, in February. Yoo’s 14% stake in online gambling giant Nexon, which she helped Kim start in 1994, was previously combined with that of her late husband, whose estate has yet to be settled.
The only returnees this year are brothers Cho Hyun-sang (#44, $1.01 billion) and Cho Hyun-joon (#47, $980 million) of industrial conglomerate Hyosung Group. Shares of its subsidiary Hyosung Advanced Materials, which makes carbon fiber used in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, soared on investor optimism for zero-emission cars.
Among the nine dropouts this year, it is worth noting Koo Bon-joon of the LG clan, who donated part of his LG shares to three charitable foundations and gave part of his stake in the holding of LX Holdings to their children.
The minimum amount required to be on the list is $950 million, up slightly from $940 million in 2021.
The 10 richest in South Korea are:
- Kim Beom-su; US$9.6 billion
- Jay Y. Lee; $9.2 billion
- Michael Kim; $7.7 billion
- Seo Jung-jin; $6.9 billion
- Kwon Hyuk-bin; $6.85 billion
- Hong Ra-hee; $6.4 billion
- Chung Mong Koo; $4.4 billion
- Lee Boo-jin; $3.9 billion
- Song Chi-hyung; $3.7 billion
- Cho Jung-ho; $3.5 billion
The list was compiled using information from individuals, analysts, government agencies, private databases, stock exchanges and other sources. Net values are based on stock prices and exchange rates at the close of trading on April 1. Private companies were valued using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies. Estimates may include a spouse’s estate and, if the person is the founder of the business, the estate of sons and daughters that derives from that corporation. The list may also include those who are included due primarily to extensive business and residential ties with South Korea, or citizens who do not reside in the country but have significant business or other ties to the country.
For more information, visit www.forbes.com/korea.
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Licensed in 2003, Forbes Korea is a Korean-language monthly publication of Joongang Ilbo, one of South Korea’s leading media conglomerates. About a third of Forbes Korea’s content comes from Forbes and Forbes Asia; the rest are local stories. Content includes news about South Korean entrepreneurs, celebrities and philanthropists as well as the lifestyle and ideas of the rich and famous in Korea.
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