List of South Koreans by net worth

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This is an incomplete list of Korean billionaires and multi-millionaires, and also describes wealth in Korea. The total net worth is an estimate measured in United States dollars.[1]

There are several published Korean rich lists within Korea including ones issued by the wealth valuation company Equitable, the Digital Times, Korea Times, and other major Korean publications. In addition, Forbes magazine, Merrill Lynch, and other chroniclers of the power elites of the world have found sufficient high profile rich in Korea as to generate accurate numbers and reasonable deductions.

Forbes magazine has hinted at Korea having at the very least 7 high billionaires living on the peninsula, and at least ten families alone who control in the high billions in assets.

Problems in determining wealth in Korea[edit]

Sociological research in Korea into the great families of wealth and privilege has not been forthcoming, so much more work has been done abroad by American and European publications such as Forbes, The Asian Wall Street Journal, and The Economist magazine as well as merchant banking units from Merrill Lynch and other holders of massive private fortunes. Internally, Korean newspapers have exercised great caution, and declined to compile lists of the rich, how they became rich, or mapped great holdings of wealth; this changes as foreign banks publish such material abroad, and articles then find their way back into Korea through the internet and foreign banking and financial publications.

Corporate wealth and rich lists[edit]

Most Korean corporations, even public ones, do not as a habit list salaries of chief executives, presidents, or stock benefits to members of their boards. Individuals rarely disclose salaries, or bonuses, and there is no real attempt to open corporate books to the public, or to shareholders to indicate substantial shareholders so determining the hierarchy of the rich is difficult.

It may be assumed that a yardstick to compile salaries of corporation heads is to go down the middle between American and Japanese salaries for comparable industries, based on gross volumes of sales, number of employees, and job title.

This benchmark would suggest at least 1000 employees of major companies making more than $1 million a year of salary; and perhaps 500 earning more than $2 million based on Korea's commercial success.

Political wealth and rich lists[edit]

Elected and appointed politicians rarely if ever file disclosure of assets, investments, or family links to corporations. It is generally assumed in Korea that any senior politician is a millionaire, and long term politicians as a family are multi-millionaires. At times of contention, public disclosures validate this.

Foundations wealth and ranking by assets held[edit]

The use of foundations to sequester assets again has not be studied at length, and foundations are not required to disclose all assets, investments, or profits; and in many cases hold, or are believed to hold, or handle trillions of won of investments that are controlled by very few people with great power and limited scrutiny or public oversight. Disclosures are usually triggered by political scandals with little public accountability in place or sociological analysis of influence.

Non-profit and church or religious group holdings[edit]

While the wealth of Sun Myung Moon is often mentioned, and is said to be in the multiple billions, non-profit church groups and religious corporations are known to have extensive landholdings both in Korea and extremely large investments in securities and land abroad.

Occasional disclosures in the media indicate the huge amounts of wealth owned, and transferred abroad by churches, religious holding companies, and other missionary groups.

These have their origins going back to the great Buddhist monastic orders which had incredible economic power, controlled essential resource exports (rice and ginseng), and which had huge plantations as early as the Korean three kingdoms time and as late as the declining years of the Joseon dynasty; with gains coming back under the Japanese occupation through fundraising for Korean independence movements.

Spectacular showcases of Korean Christian wealth have been displayed in huge cathedrals and church-building.

Estimates on financial holdings of the richest churches often exceed billions in assets and investments.

Gross income of chaebols and the top 50 Korean companies[edit]

The relations between chaebols and the Korean power elite are now studied more closely as the elite itself showcases wealth and power more publicly than before as Korea places itself in the community of successful countries.

Top 50 Richest 2013 (Forbes)[2][edit]

Only the people with USD $1 billion or more are shown.

  1. Lee Kun Hee (Samsung) $12.5 billion
  2. Chung Mong Koo (Hyundai) $5.4 billion
  3. Lee Jae-yong (Samsung) $4.2 billion
  4. Chung Eui-sun (Hyundai) $2.6 billion
  5. Shin Dong-Bin (Lotte) $2.0 billion
  6. Suh Kyung-Bae (Amore Pacific) $1.95 billion
  7. Shin Chang-jae (Kyobo Life) $1.92 billion
  8. Shin Dong-Joo (Lotte) $1.9 billion
  9. Lee Hwa-Kyung (Orion $1.8 billion
  10. Lee Jay-Hyun (CJ) $1.7 billion
  11. Kim Jung-Ju (Nexon) $1.6 billion
  12. Chey Tae-won (SK) $1.56 billion
  13. Koo Bon-Moo (LG) $1.53 billion
  14. Lee Joong-Keun (Booyoung) $1.4 billion
  15. Chung Mong-Joon (Hyundai) $1.38 billion
  16. Koo Bon-Neung (Heesung, LG) $1.36 billion
  17. Lee Myung-Hee (Shinsegae) $1.3 billion
  18. Lee Boo-Jin (Samsung) $1.25 billion
  19. Chung Yong-Jin (Shinsegae) $1.1 billion
  20. Seo Jung-Jin (Celltrion) $1.08 billion
  21. Lee Seo-Hyun (Samsung) $1.03 billion
  22. Park Hyeon-Joo (Mirae) $1.01 billion

Rich List according to[edit] is a local source that evaluates the fortunes of Korean businesspersons. According to its analysis of listed stock value as of January 2008, the top 20 known Korean share-rich individuals are the following.

Chung Mong Joon $3.8 Billion Hyundai Heavy

Chung Mong Koo $3.2 Billion Hyundai

Lee Myung Hee $2.2 Billion Shinsegae

Shin Dong Bin $2.0 Billion Lotte

Shin Dong Joo $1.9 Billion Lotte

Lee Kun Hee $1.8 Billion Samsung

Huh Chang Soo $1.4 Billion GS

Koo Bon Moo $1.4 Billion LG

Nicholas Park $1.3 Billion Lee

Suh Kyung Bae $1.2 Billion Amorepacific

Chung Yong Jin $1.1 Billion Shinsegae

Chung Mong Gyu $1.1 Billion Hyundai Development

Chung Mong Jin $1.1 Billion KCC

Park Ki Yeol $1.0 Billion S.H Group

Koo Bon Joon $1.0 Billion LG

Kim Seung Youn $1.0 Billion Hanwha

Yoon Seok Keum $0.9 Billion Woongjin

Chung Eui Sun $0.9 Billion Hyundai

Kim Nam Koo $0.8 Billion Korea Investment

Lee Soo Young $0.8 Billion DC Chemical

Kim Jun Ki $0.8 Billion Dongbu

Kim Nam Ho $0.8 Billion Dongbu

Kim Young Sang $0.6 Billion Daewoo

Evaluating wealth and power[edit]

The Sunday Times Rich List, published annually by the Sunday Times cites a complicated means by which it both establishes and guesses at real and hidden wealth by the nation's richest families. Researchers in Korean media have used this as a means of establishing wealth.


  1. ^ Ho, Soyoung & Kitchens, Susan. "South Korea's 40 Richest". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  2. ^ "Korea's 50 Richest People". Forbes. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]