[SUPER RICH] Superrich and Hawaii: A love affair

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jun 30, 2014 - 19:46
  • Updated : Jul 1, 2014 - 14:07
The mild climate, averaging 28 degrees, and the endless beaches full of well-sculpted bodies frolicking under the sun have long made Hawaii a paradise where many go for a respite.

Wealthy, high-profile figures from all over the world including former U.S. President George Bush, actor Al Pacino and singer Katy Perry have chosen to enjoy time off vacationing at homes they purchased in Hawaii.

Korean business tycoons also seem to have fallen in love with the Polynesian island ― which coincidentally was named the best holiday spot by 1,000 pilots and cabin crew of Korean Air ― as shown in recent reports. 

Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee’s latest investment before falling unconscious in May was a $13 million (13.6 billion won) ocean side site on Hawaii. Lee, who has not been in good health for more than a decade, fell in love with the warm climate and decided to build a summer house there, to be completed by 2016. Lee’s wife and Leeum Samsung Museum director Hong Ra-hee has reportedly doled out some $895,000 to buy a decent-sized piece of land on the Big Island where the couple can enjoy golfing.

“The Lee clan used to stay at the high-end Kahala Resort. Lee is a regular at the scene,” a person familiar with the matter said.

Once the house is built, Lee will be neighbors with the families controlling GS, Hankook Tire, Hyosung, Doosan, Hanjin, LG, Hansol, Binggrae and others.

Former Samsung advisor Lee Hak-soo also owns a condominium on the island and has spent months with his wife there.

Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn is another top business mogul known to frequent Hawaii.

Kim, who suffers from respiratory illnesses, diabetes and injuries from a fall, spent time recuperating there during April and May this year.

“The temperature gap between summer and winter there is just 4 degrees. Elderly people find the place charming, thanks to the various activities including golf and sunbathing available without being spotted by the media,” an observer said.

However, there is a dark side to this affection for Hawaii, as some business leaders are under suspicion of having evaded taxes when they made their real estate purchases.

KBS said that a total of 110 cases of real estate trade have been reported by Koreans in Hawaii since 1998 and that many of them are suspected to have evaded acquisition and other taxes. For this reason, the National Tax Service in 2013 said it is keeping a close eye on Hawaii-related transactions.

The Hyosung heir has already been reportedly slapped with a 2 billion won fine for an attempt at tax evasion. 

By Bae Ji-sook (