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Analysis shows inheritance makes up bulk of South Korea's stock rich

All News 09:22 January 04, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- More than half of South Korea's top stock wealthy have become rich from inheritance, a phenomenon more stark than in the United States, Japan and China, an analysis by a corporate watcher showed Wednesday.

CEO Score tracked assets held by 160 of the most stock rich in South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and China, 40 from each country, in the 2007-2017 period, using figures announced annually by Forbes. In the findings, 112, or 70 percent, of the people on the list were self-made who gained wealth by starting a company. The remaining 30 percent were heirs of wealth. In 2007, 60 percent were self-made.

Inheritance was more prominent among South Korea's rich. Of the 40 people on the list, 25 of them, or 62.5 percent, were beneficiaries of handed-down wealth, compared with 25 percent in the U.S., 30 percent in Japan and 2.5 percent in China.

The story was not much different in 2007, when 77.5 percent were heirs, much higher than 45 percent in the U.S. and 35 percent in Japan.

In terms of the size of assets owned by the 160 people, the monetary value about doubled over the 10-year period from US$818.3 billion in 2007 to $1.667 trillion this year.

Those who built their wealth on their own increased their assets from $525.9 billion to $1.275 trillion, an increase of 142.5 percent. The wealth increase for heirs paled by comparison, a 34.2 percent rise from $292.3 billion to $392.2 billion, the analysis showed.

A photo capture from Yonhap News TV (Yonhap)

The volume of asset increase was the biggest in China, whose people on the rich list increased their wealth by 191.9 percent to $352.8 billion. South Korea came next with a 170.1 percent increase to $97.7 billion.

The average per individual wealth for the 160 people jumped more than 100 percent, from $5.1 billion in 2007 to $10.4 billion this year. The average for the self-made rich was $11.4 billion, an increase of 107.8 percent, while that for the inheritance rich marked a 78.9 percent increase to $8.2 billion.

For South Korea, per-person wealth came to $2.4 billion this year, up 170.1 percent from $900 million 10 years ago. For the U.S., the increase was 87 percent while that for China was 191.9 percent. Japan's increase was 62.3 percent.

The analysis showed that 51.3 percent of the people on the list had changed during the measured years, including 42.5 percent in South Korea.

Lee Kun-hee, the second-generation heir of Samsung Group, was rated as the richest in Korea with $12.6 billion, followed by Suh Kyung-bae, head of AmorePacific, who was valued at $8.4 billion. Suh's assets had increased 663.6 percent from 2007, making him the fastest gainer of wealth among the country's listed rich.

Samsung's Lee Jae-yong, the son of Lee Kun-hee, ranked third with $6.2 billion. Chung Mong-koo, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, ranked next with $4.8 billion. Kim Jung-joo, founder of Nexon Co., came in fifth with $4.1 billion.

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