S. Korea's 400 richest people own an average of 459 bln won in assets: report

SEOUL, Aug. 4 (Yonhap) -- The average wealth of South Korea's 400 richest people is 459 billion won (US$445.3 million), with 35 having assets exceeding 1 trillion won, a report by a local conglomerate research firm showed Monday.

According to Chaebul.com, which analyzed the top managers at the country's 1,883 listed and 21,280 nonlisted companies, the combined wealth of the 400 richest people totaled just under 183.93 trillion won as of late July.

The latest findings showed the 10 richest people in the country inherited their wealth from their parents and were associated with family-run conglomerates. Only 10 of the 35 "super rich" had single-handedly built up their own businesses.

Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee led the pack, with his personal wealth estimated at 13.28 trillion won, followed by 7.64 trillion won for Chung Mong-koo, head of Hyundai Motor Group.

Both are second-generation entrepreneurs who inherited their wealth and business group from their fathers.

Coming in third at just shy of 5.18 trillion was Lee Jay-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. and the de facto heir to Lee Kun-hee, his father. Chung Eui-sun, the only son and successor to the incumbent Hyundai Motor chairman, had a personal wealth of 4.46 trillion won.

Suh Kyung-bae, the chairman of Amore Pacific Group, the country's leading cosmetic and beauty product maker, came in fifth at 4.34 trillion won, mainly due to the spike in share prices.

Besides these men, SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won is worth 3.5 trillion won, with Shin Chang-jae, Kyobo Group's head, having assets hitting 2.23 trillion won. Shin Dong-bin, who leads the Lotte Group, the country's fifth-largest family-run conglomerate, had 2.19 trillion won, followed by Lee Jay-hyun, head of CJ Group, with 2.15 trillion won. Shin Dong-joo, the older brother of Shin Dong-bin and vice chairman of Lotte Japan, owned 1.97 trillion won in assets.

Among tycoons who amassed their fortunes on their own, Booyoung Group's founder Lee Joong-keun ranked No. 1, with his personal wealth tallied at 1.81 trillion won. He was followed by Kim Jung-ju, chairman of the on-line game company NXC, with 1.47 trillion won and Naver's largest shareholder, Lee Hae-jin, at 1.34 trillion won. Other on-line and information technology company managers such as NC Soft Corp.'s head Kim Taek-jin, KakaoTalk manager Kim Bum-soo and NHN Entertainment chief Lee Jun-ho, all had assets exceeding 1 trillion won.

Among the top 400 richest people, 6.7 percent, or 27, were women, with all having family ties with large family conglomerates.

Lee Myung-hee, sister of the incumbent Samsumg chairman, runs Shinsegae Group, the country's largest retail company. Hong Ra-hee, the director of Leeum Samsung Museum, is Lee Kun-hee's wife, while Lee Boo-jin and Lee Seo-hyun are the daughters of the Samsung patriarch.

Lee Boo-jin controls the Hotel Shilla and is worth 1.32 trillion won, while her younger sister, the head of Cheil Industries, had assets estimated at 1.27 trillion won.

The latest report by Chaebul.com said the youngest in the group was the 28-year-old daughter of Seoul Semiconductor Co. CEO Lee Chung-hoon, while the oldest was Shin Kyuk-ho, the founder of Lotte Group, and Yun Jang-sub, the honorary chairman of Sungbo Chemical Co., who are both 92.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>