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Wealth

COVID-19 shakes up Korea’s list of richest stock owners

Despite major shifts in the list of top 20 stockholders, Samsung heirs still take up 4 out of the top 5 positions

By Jul 23, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Kakao founder and chairman Kim Bum-soo was ranked as the third richest person in terms of stock wealth.
Kakao founder and chairman Kim Bum-soo was ranked as the third richest person in terms of stock wealth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up the list of Korea’s richest people in terms of stocks held. Among the 20 richest share owners in Korea as of July, 18 have changed their ranking compared to the list at the end of 2019.

The two unchanged positions were held by the Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee in the top position and Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun in eighth. Samsung’s Lee held 15.2 trillion won ($13.2 billion) worth of shares as of July 21.  

The most dramatic change was made by Kakao Corp.’s founder and chairman Kim Bum-soo, who moved up from the ninth position to third. Kim’s stock wealth surpassed 8.5 trillion won ($7.4 billion), a spectacular growth from 1.9 trillion ($1.7 billion) at the end of 2019.

The Kakao chairman’s current stock wealth is larger than those of Hyundai Motor Group’s previous chairman Chung Mong-koo at sixth with 5.8 trillion won ($5.1 billion), AmorePacific Corp.’s chairman Suh Kyung-bae at seventh with 4.2 trillion won ($3.6 billion) and SK Group’s chairman Chey Tae-won at tenth with 3.5 trillion won ($3 billion).

Kakao’s rival Naver Corp.’s co-founder and Global Investment Officer Lee Hae-jin was ranked 12th with 2.6 trillion won ($2.3 billion) worth of stock.

HYBE Co.’s founder and chairman Bang Si-hyuk made a debut on the top 20 list, by ranking ninth with 3.9 trillion won ($3.4 billion). The BTS agency HYBE was listed on Kospi last October.

The game company PearlAbyss Co.’s co-founder and chairman Kim Dae-il also made a debut by being ranked 20th with 1.8 trillion won ($1.6 billion). Cho Young-sik, the founder of the world’s largest COVID-19 test kit maker SD Biosensor Inc., also newly entered the list at 19th with 1.88 trillion won ($1.6 billion). Cho was closely behind Celltrion founder Seo Jung-jin at 18th with 2.1 trillion won ($1.8 billion).    

Kim Chang-soo, the founder and chairman of F&F Co., the Korean retailer of the outdoor brands Discovery Expedition and MLB, was also ranked 14th. F&F recently joined the race for the TaylorMade acquisition by investing 400 billion won ($347 million) in the golf equipment company.

F&F’s Kim Chang-soo was the only person from the fashion industry to be listed on the list of top 20.
F&F’s Kim Chang-soo was the only person from the fashion industry to be listed on the list of top 20.

The total stock wealth held by Korea’s top 20 stock owners also increased from 63.5 trillion won ($55.2 billion) at the end of 2019 to 93.8 trillion won ($81.5 billion) by July 2021, increasing by 46.5%. The rate of growth was similar to that of Kospi index during the given period at 46.3%.  

In terms of the rate of growth in stock wealth, Kakao’s chairman Kim Bum-soo enjoyed the highest rate at 346% during the given period, followed by F&F founder Kim Chang-soo at 181% and Naver’s Lee Hae-jin at 129%.

At the same time, however, some have seen shrinks in stock wealth, including AmorePacific Chairman Suh Kyung-bae, whose stock wealth decreased at the rate of -15.4%, and Celltrion’s Seo Jung-jin at -29.8%.

Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin was ranked fourth. 
Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin was ranked fourth. 

Meanwhile, Samsung Group heirs have largely dominated the top five list, with the late chairman Lee Kun-hee’s widow Hong Ra-hee ranking at second with 11.2 trillion won ($9.7 billion), HotelShilla CEO and the eldest daughter Lee Boo-jin at fourth with 7.5 trillion won ($6.5 billion), and Samsung Foundation’s chairwoman Lee Seo-hyun at fifth with 7.1 trillion ($6.2 billion) won worth of stock.

Write to Ui-myung Park at uimyung@hankyung.com

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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