South Korea, a nation renowned for its technological innovation and economic prowess, has produced a league of visionary entrepreneurs and industrious individuals who have ascended to the pinnacle of wealth and influence. The list of the “Top 50 Richest Persons in Korea” offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of high-stakes business ventures, innovative startups, and steadfast determination that have propelled these individuals to accumulate vast fortunes.
Only a few people saw a gain in their wealth, and Michael Kim, a renowned person in private equity, stood out more than the others. With assets worth over $26 billion, Kim, the CEO of MBK Partners, emerged as the biggest winner in terms of percentage increases and monetary gains, earning a net worth of $9.7 billion. Due to fresh information on his interests, this is a $2 billion increase from the prior year. Even though South Korea’s economy, which depends heavily on exports, is projected to grow by 2.6% in 2022, its stock market did poorly last year compared to other Asian markets.
The main Kospi index dropped by 9%, which is a huge drop because a third of the country’s exports are made up of tech products and rising interest rates. The combined wealth of the 50 richest persons in Korea fell from $130 billion to $106 billion, a loss of 18%, as a result of this and the devaluation of the won in contrast to the previous year.
List of Top 50 Richest Persons in Korea
As we delve into the lives and achievements of these tycoons, we gain insights not only into their personal trajectories but also into the economic landscape and growth drivers of South Korea. Here is the list of top 50 richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $9.7 billion
Private equity company MBK Partners, with its headquarters in Seoul, was co-founded by Michael Kim. This company, whose name incorporates his initials, is in charge of managing assets worth more than $26 billion. The 2017 public offering of ING Insurance Korea, the first time a private equity group wholly owned a company listed on the Korean exchange, is one noteworthy accomplishment.
Notably, in September 2015, his company completed the largest private equity transaction in South Korea to date when it acquired Tesco’s Korean operation, Homeplus, for $6.1 billion. Despite being a South Korean native, Kim began his schooling in the United States in preparatory school and later obtained American citizenship. Number one richest persons in Korea.
2.Jay Y. Lee
Net Worth: $8 billion
Jay Y. Lee is a key figure in the Samsung Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates. He is the son of the late Lee Kun-hee, the former chairman of Samsung. Jay Y. Lee has been involved in various aspects of Samsung’s business, including electronics, construction, shipbuilding, and more. He played a crucial role in driving Samsung’s global expansion and technological advancements.
Jay Y. Lee was accused of providing financial support to entities linked to former President Park Geun-hye’s confidante Choi Soon-sil in exchange for government support of a merger that would strengthen his control over Samsung. In January 2021, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison but was released on probation in August 2021.
Net Worth: $5.7 billion
Seo Jung-jin is the founder of Celltrion, a biopharmaceutical company that has gained recognition for its development of biosimilar drugs. Celltrion has focused on creating affordable alternatives to expensive biologic medications, contributing to more accessible healthcare options.
Under Seo Jung-jin’s leadership, Celltrion has expanded its global presence and has been involved in collaborations with international pharmaceutical companies.
Net Worth: $5.1 billion
Kwon Hyuk-bin is associated with LG Electronics, a well-known South Korean electronics company. LG Electronics is involved in a wide range of products, including televisions, home appliances, smartphones, and more.
Kwon Hyuk-bin’s role as CEO involves overseeing the company’s operations and strategic initiatives in the competitive consumer electronics market. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $5 billion
Kim Beom-su is the founder and CEO of Kakao Corp, a technology company that has made a significant impact on the digital landscape in South Korea. Kakao’s services include KakaoTalk, a popular messaging app; KakaoPay, a mobile payment platform; Kakao Games; and more.
Kim Beom-su has been instrumental in transforming Kakao into a diverse tech conglomerate that offers various online services and products. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $4.9 billion
Hong Ra-hee is the widow of Lee Kun-hee, the former chairman of Samsung Group. While she hasn’t been directly involved in Samsung’s operational activities, she has been known for her involvement in philanthropic and cultural endeavors.
She is known for her contributions to promoting art and culture, including supporting the Samsung Museum of Art (Leeum), which showcases traditional and contemporary Korean art.
Net Worth: $4.1 billion
Mong-Koo Chung is the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, a conglomerate that includes Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation. The group has been actively involved in electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, self-driving technology, and more.
Under his leadership, Hyundai Motor Group has pursued innovative automotive technologies, expanded its global presence, and aimed to be a leader in sustainable mobility solutions.
8.Kim Jung-min & Jung-youn
Net Worth: $3.6 billion
Together, Kim Jung-min and Jung-youn hold a small portion of the stock of Nexon, a well-known online gaming company. They received these ownership interests from their father, Nexon’s founder Kim Jung-ju, who founded the business in 1994.
Kim Jung-ju tragically lost away in February 2022 at the age of 54. Despite the fact that both sisters own these shares, they are not very involved in Nexon’s daily operations.
Net Worth: $3.4 billion
The chairman of the Meritz Financial Group is Cho Jung-ho. Cho Choong-hoon, the founder of Hanjin Group, the holding company for Korean Air, has four sons, with him being the youngest.
During his professional career, Cho Jung-ho worked for Korean Airlines in Europe. In 1989, he returned home to assume the position of director at Hanjin Investment & Securities, which at the time was still known as Meritz.
Net Worth: $3.3 billion
Lee Boo-jin is the daughter of the late Lee Kun-hee, the former chairman of Samsung Group. She is known for her involvement in various businesses, including the Hotel Shilla, a luxury hotel and resort company.
Lee Boo-jin has also been active in philanthropy and social initiatives. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $3.25 billion
Yoo holds a 14% ownership stake through NXC in the well-known online game company Nexon. Her husband, Kim Jung-ju, was in charge of founding Nexon before relinquishing his managerial duties in 2006.
Tragically, he tragically died in February 2022 at the age of 54. Yoo joined NXC in 1995, and since 2010, he has served as the company’s statutory auditor. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $2.95 billion
Lee Seo-hyun is a prominent businesswoman and philanthropist. She is the Vice Chairperson of Samsung Electronics and serves as the president of the Samsung Welfare Foundation. Lee Seo-hyun has been actively involved in various philanthropic and social initiatives.
She founded the “Gloria Cultural Foundation” to promote art and culture and has also been an advocate for sustainable and eco-friendly business practices within the Samsung Group.
Net Worth: $2.9 billion
Euisun Chung is a key figure in the automotive industry and the Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. Under his leadership, the group has been focusing on the development of electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell technology, and autonomous driving systems.
Euisun Chung has been instrumental in driving Hyundai’s strategic shift towards future mobility solutions and global sustainability efforts. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $2.8 billion
The founder of Coupang, a significant player in South Korean e-commerce, is Bom Kim. Coupang had their first public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in March 2021. The company’s founder, Bom Kim, owns about 10% of the business.
Notably, in November 2018, Coupang received a sizeable investment of $2 billion from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, valuing the company at $9 billion and making it the most valuable privately-held startup in Korea at the time. The initial public offering (IPO) of Coupang in March 2021 was a key turning point because it was the biggest Asian firm to list in the United States since Alibaba’s IPO in 2014.
Net Worth: $1.95 billion
Suh Kyung-bae is a notable figure in the cosmetics and beauty industry. He is the Chairman and CEO of Amorepacific Group, one of the largest beauty and skincare companies in South Korea.
Under his leadership, the company has expanded its global presence and introduced innovative beauty products and technologies. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.9 billion
Bang Si-hyuk is a highly influential figure in the entertainment industry. He is the founder and CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, the company responsible for managing the global sensation BTS.
Bang Si-hyuk’s visionary leadership and strategic direction have played a crucial role in shaping the success of BTS and elevating the K-pop genre to international prominence. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.75 billion
Koo Kwang-mo is the Chairman of LG Corporation, a conglomerate with a significant presence in diverse industries. He inherited leadership after the passing of his father, Koo Bon-moo.
Koo Kwang-mo has been working to drive LG’s expansion and innovation across its various business sectors, including electronics, home appliances, and more. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.7 billion
In 1998, Lee Dong-chae founded the chemicals firm EcoPro. The EcoPro subsidiary EcoPro BM is the top producer of the cathodes needed for electric vehicle batteries in South Korea and specializes in producing battery materials.
A significant achievement was made in 2022 when EcoPro BM worked with Samsung’s battery division to complete the development of the cathode material facility with the highest output capacity in the world.
Net Worth: $1.65 billion
Chey Tae-won is a prominent business magnate and the Chairman and CEO of SK Group. The group has diverse business interests, including energy, chemicals, telecommunications, and more.
Chey Tae-won has been recognized for his contributions to the business community and his leadership in driving SK Group’s growth and innovation. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.6 billion
Kim Chang-soo is the chairman of F&F, a company he started as an apparel business in 1992. For well-known Western businesses like Benetton and Major League Baseball, F&F controls the Korean license rights.
Notably, in May 2021, F&F Holdings carried out a tactical maneuver by dividing its main garment business to form a new company called F&F Co. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.55 billion
Lionheart Studio is an online game development firm, and Kim Jae-young is the person who founded it and currently serves as its CEO. In order to launch this business, he attracted financing from two of the biggest names in South Korean gaming, Kakao Games and Wemade, both of which are known for their work on blockchain-based games.
One significant accomplishment of Lionheart Studio is the creation of Odin, a very well-liked mobile game in South Korea. Kim also co-founded Action Square in 2012, a business that made online games and had a successful IPO in 2015.
Net Worth: $1.5 billion
The founder of Dongbu Group, Kim Jun-ki, resigned from his role as chairman in September 2017 amid rape and sexual harassment claims. Kim was found guilty of these sexual assault charges in April 2020 and was given a 2.5-year jail term with a 4-year suspension.
Dongbu Group, currently known as DB, continues to hold a variety of holdings in the real estate, steel, chemicals, banking, and electronics industries. Kim Nam-ho, his lone son and CEO and heir apparent, as well as his daughter’s shares are included in his total wealth.
Net Worth: $1.45 billion
Former chairman of Taekwang Industrial, a renowned manufacturer strongly linked to South Korea’s achievements in the textile and petrochemical industries, Lee Ho-jin has an impressive resume. After the death of his older brother, Lee Sik-jin, he was promoted to chairman.
He later resigned, though, and is reportedly currently waging a battle against liver cancer. In a remarkable turn of events, Lee Ho-jin was subject to legal repercussions in 2011 when he was given a 54-month prison term for stealing $128 million from the business.
Net Worth: $1.4 billion
Kim Taek-jin is a notable figure in the South Korean gaming industry. He is the founder and CEO of NCSOFT, a company that has played a significant role in shaping the landscape of online multiplayer games. NCSOFT is renowned for its pioneering MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) title “Lineage,” which gained immense popularity in South Korea and beyond.
Kim Taek-jin’s leadership has propelled NCSOFT to become a major player in the global gaming market, with successful franchises like Aion, Guild Wars, and Blade & Soul. The company’s focus on creating immersive virtual worlds and engaging gameplay experiences has earned it a loyal player base and substantial financial success.
Net Worth: $1.3 billion
Lee Hae-jin is a co-founder of Naver Corporation, which is one of South Korea’s leading internet companies. Naver operates as a multifaceted online platform offering services such as search engines, web portals, online communities, and more.
It is particularly well-known for its webtoon platform, which hosts a wide range of digital comics. Under Lee Hae-jin’s guidance, Naver has expanded its influence to various digital content sectors and has played a role in shaping online culture and communication in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.2 billion
The founder and chairman of Yanolja, a South Korean travel superapp, is known as Lee Su-jin. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 provided a huge boost for the business by making a sizeable $1.7 billion investment in Yanolja in July 2021.
Being an orphan as a child, Lee Su-jin’s life path tells a riveting story. Before starting Yanolja in 2005, he worked as a janitor at love motels. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $1.19 billion
Chung Yong-jin, also known as Y. J. Chung, is a significant figure in the retail and business world. He is the Vice Chairman of Shinsegae Group, a conglomerate that operates various retail businesses, including Shinsegae Department Stores and E-Mart discount stores.
Under his leadership, the Shinsegae Group has modernized and diversified its retail offerings, adapting to changing consumer preferences and market trends. Chung Yong-jin has been recognized for his efforts to enhance customer experiences and revitalize the retail sector in South Korea.
Net Worth: $1.15 billion
Bang Jun-hyuk is a co-founder of Netmarble Corporation, a leading mobile game company. Netmarble has established itself as a global player in the mobile gaming industry, with successful titles spanning various genres. One of the richest persons in Korea.
The company’s games are known for their high-quality graphics, engaging gameplay mechanics, and innovative features. Bang Jun-hyuk’s contributions to the gaming landscape have contributed to the rise of South Korea as a powerhouse in the mobile gaming sector.
Net Worth: $1.12 billion
The Booyoung Group, a significant player in the real estate and construction industries, was founded by Lee Joong-keun, who is credited with developing the idea of rental housing in South Korea. However, legal complications have marred his journey.
He was imprisoned in February 2018 on charges related to embezzlement, tax evasion, and the creation of a slush fund. He denies these allegations, but he is still awaiting trial. Lee Joong-keun was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison in November 2018. He was given release on bond due to health concerns.
Net Worth: $1.11 billion
The distinction of being the founder and CEO of Caregen, a prestigious South Korean biotechnology company known for its innovations in anti-aging therapies and diabetic drugs, belongs to Chung Yong-ji. Chung founded Caregen in 2001 and successfully steered its listing on Korea’s technologically advanced Kosdaq stock exchange in 2015.
Chung pursued his schooling in the United States. Caregen’s goods are sold in more than 130 countries, and they have a significant market share in places including the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, and the Asia Pacific.
Net Worth: $1.1 billion
Lee Jay-hyun was a significant figure in the business world as the former Chairman of Woongjin Group, a South Korean conglomerate with diverse business interests. Under his leadership, Woongjin Group was involved in various sectors, including education, manufacturing, and distribution.
The group’s subsidiaries were engaged in areas such as publishing, water treatment, textiles, and renewable energy. However, Lee Jay-hyun faced legal troubles, including accusations of embezzlement and financial misconduct, which resulted in his imprisonment.
Net Worth: $1.05 billion
Koo Bon-sik held a key position in LG Display, a global leader in the production of display panels. As the CEO, he played a vital role in overseeing the company’s operations, strategic direction, and technological advancements.
LG Display has been known for its contributions to display technology, including OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) panels used in various electronic devices such as smartphones, televisions, and monitors.
Net Worth: $1.02 billion
Hong Seok-joh is recognized for his role in managing Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech (HMMC), Hyundai’s manufacturing facility in the Czech Republic. One of the richest persons in Korea.
HMMC has played a crucial part in Hyundai’s global production network, manufacturing vehicles for both the European and other markets. Hong Seok-joh’s leadership has been instrumental in ensuring the efficient operations of the plant and contributing to Hyundai’s international presence.
Net Worth: $1.01 billion
The founder and CEO of GP Club, a cosmetics business with its headquarters in Seoul, is Kim Jung-woong. GP Club known mostly for their selection of JM Solution facial masks, extremely well-liked in mainland China.
GP Club sold over one billion masks in the first two years of its release, resulting in a startling growth of over 900% in sales and an astounding increase of 3,000% in profits in 2018. Goldman Sachs’ significant investment of 75 billion won to acquire a 5% share in GP Club in October 2018 underlines the importance of the company.
Net Worth: $1 billion
Koo Bon-neung known for his affiliation with LG Corporation, a major South Korean conglomerate. One of the richest persons in Korea.
While specific details about his involvement may not be readily available, the Koo family has historically played a significant role in shaping LG’s business operations and growth strategy.
Net Worth: $995 million
Cho Young-sik is the one who founded SD Biosensor, a prestigious business known for its quick Covid-19 testing solution known as Standard Q. When SD Biosensor went public on the Korea Exchange in July 2021, it marked a key turning point for the business and raised a sizeable amount of money—roughly $680 million.
The government of Slovakia purchased 13 million Covid-19 tests from SD Biosensor in late 2020, demonstrating the innovations’ broad reach. This amount was enough to do two rounds of testing for the country’s entire population. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $990 million
Chang Pyung-soon is notable for her contributions to the entertainment and media industry in South Korea. She founded CJ ENM, which stands for “Creative Junction ENtertainment and Music,” a leading entertainment and media company.
CJ ENM involved in television broadcasting, content production, and event organization. The company has played a significant role in shaping the entertainment landscape and promoting Korean content internationally. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $985 billion
The person who founded the chemicals company Chunbo, which he started in 1997, is Lee Sang-ryul. Notably, he and his wife, Seo Ja-won, share the role of co-CEO of Chunbo. One of the richest persons in Korea.
The business has established a niche for itself in the production of chemicals needed in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, an essential component of electric vehicles. Prior to joining Chunbo, Lee was the chief of development at Hanvit Chemical, a company that produces cleaning solutions.
Net Worth: $980 million
The chairman of CS Wind, a business that specializes in the creation of wind towers, is Gim Seong-gon. In 1988, he founded the business, which launched its adventure. One of the richest persons in Korea.
When Goldman Sachs invested about $40 million in the business in 2008, it marked a turning point in the company’s growth trajectory and allowed it to expand into a variety of regions. Since then, CS Wind has broadened the scope of its activities to include nations including China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam.
Net Worth: $970 million
Chung Mong-joon is a multifaceted individual with a presence in both business and politics. He is a member of the influential Hyundai family and involved in various business endeavors, including Hyundai Heavy Industries, one of the world’s largest shipbuilders.
Chung Mong-joon’s political involvement includes serving as a member of the South Korean National Assembly and being active on the global stage, notably as a vice president of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).
Net Worth: $950 million
Both the founder and the chairman of Dunamu, the organization in charge of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, is Song Chi-hyung. Dunamu made a huge financial move in September 2021 when it successfully raised an astonishing $85 million in investment, valuing the business at $8.7 billion.
Kakao Ventures and the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Altos Ventures are two of its notable backers. Song Chi-hyung held a position in the regional mobile payment firm Danal prior to founding Dunamu with Kim Hyoung-nyon.
Net Worth: $910 million
Within the Dongwon conglomerate, well known for being the driving force behind South Korea’s well-known canned tuna products, Kim Nam-jung is vice chairman. He is the younger of Kim Jae-chul’s two sons, who founded Dongwon and started the company in 1969.
Ghana served as the company’s first overseas market entry point in 1973. Along with its well-known canned seafood products, Dongwon is also active in a number of other industries, such as packaged seafood, outsourced meal delivery, cold-storage facility management, and logistical activities.
Net Worth: $900 million
Lee Seung-gun is a notable entrepreneur in the fintech industry. He is the founder and CEO of Viva Republica, a company that has disrupted the financial sector in South Korea. Viva Republica best known for its mobile financial platform, Toss, which offers a range of services including money transfer, payments, and personal finance management.
Toss has gained widespread popularity for its user-friendly interface, convenience, and innovative features, contributing to the transformation of how people handle their finances in South Korea. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $890 million
Carver Korea, a manufacturer of cosmetics known for its well-liked AHC line of skincare items such moisturizers and anti-aging creams, founded by Lee Sang-rok. His choice to sell his ownership part in Carver to consumer goods giant Unilever, culminating in a substantial deal valued at $2.7 billion, credited with his financial success.
Other significant parties, including Goldman Sachs and Bain, involved in the transaction, which took place in 2017. At the time, it was the largest deal in South Korea’s beauty sector. Currently, Unilever owns more than 95% of the business.
Net Worth: $880 million
Shin Dong-joo associated with Lotte Group, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates with a presence in multiple industries including retail, food, hotels, and more. One of the richest persons in Korea.
The Lotte Group has involved in retail operations through Lotte Department Store and Lotte Mart, and it has expanded internationally as well. Shin Dong-joo’s role in the group’s business activities has contributed to its growth and diversification.
Net Worth: $870 million
As a co-founder of Naver, the biggest online portal in South Korea, Lee Joon-ho had a tremendous impact on the company. He currently holds the position of chairman of NHN Entertainment, which up until their separation in 2013 served as Naver’s online gaming subsidiary.
The sale of Naver shares is another one of Lee’s financial ventures. He sold shares totaling $225 million in value in 2014, and then shares worth another $115 million in 2016 were sold. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $865 million
Cho Hyun-sang is a business leader in the aviation and travel industry. He served as the President of Korean Air, one of South Korea’s major airlines. During his tenure, he involved in overseeing the airline’s operations, including flight routes, customer service, and strategic decisions.
The airline industry plays a crucial role in South Korea’s connectivity with the world, and Cho Hyun-sang’s contributions have impacted the travel experiences of millions of passengers. One of the richest persons in Korea.
Net Worth: $840 million
The CEO and largest shareholder of Kumyang, a chemical firm based in Busan, a significant port city in South Korea, is Ryu Kwang-ji. The ability of Kumyang to produce blowing agents, which used in the creation of plastic foam, well known.
Since 2022, Kumyang has been actively pursuing expansion plans, foraying into the fields of automotive hydrogen fuel cells and electric car batteries. Ryu first became associated with Kumyang in 1998 when he began working there. Three years later, he appointed CEO.
Net Worth: $835 million
Hoban Construction, a well-known construction firm that stands among South Korea’s top builders, attributed with founded by Kim Sang-yeol, who also holds the position of chairman. In 2019, an internal merger that greatly raised the net assets of Kim’s development company propelled him toward billionaire status.
Notably, he strategically increased Hoban’s footprint in Asia during the 1997–1998 financial crisis, taking advantage of the chance to purchase properties for surprisingly low costs. Kim’s eldest son, Kim Dae-heon, elevated to the position of vice president at Hoban in 2019. Kim Dae-heon currently has the title of being the company’s largest shareholder.
Net Worth: $830 million
Currently, Lee Hwa-kyung is the vice chairwoman of Orion, a well-known and enduring confectionery company in South Korea. Her husband, Dam Chul-gon, the chairman of the Orion group, has accused of theft and tax evasion in a case that has been pending since 2011.
Notably, he was freed from these accusations. Lee Yang-koo, the creator of Dongyang, which served as a forerunner to the Orion group, is also the father of Lee Hwa-kyung, who is the second daughter. She involved in Showbox, Orion’s entertainment company, in addition to her duties at Orion. One of the richest persons in Korea.
The roster of the “Top 50 Richest Persons in Korea” reflects the remarkable economic transformation and dynamism that South Korea has experienced over the years. From technology moguls to conglomerate leaders, these individuals have harnessed their talents and resources to shape industries, create jobs, and contribute to the nation’s prosperity.
Their stories serve as a testament to the power of innovation, perseverance, and strategic thinking, reminding us that in the complex tapestry of wealth and success, there exists a blend of ambition, hard work, and the ability to seize opportunities. As South Korea continues to evolve on the global stage, these individuals will likely remain key players, steering the course of the nation’s economy and leaving an indelible mark on its future.