For this edition, The Korea Herald Special Investigative Team translated the wealth of the nation’s superrich into what is still considered one of the most desired forms of liquidity ― real estate.
Buying a city
The total value of shares owned by the country’s top 100 stockholders stands at 75.5 trillion won ($74 billion), according to market reports.
The amount is almost equivalent to the price of 115,070 apartments in the Songpa district in Seoul ― considered one of the most affluent areas in the capital city. This means that the stockholders could easily buy and sell the entire neighborhood if they wanted to.
In fact, it doesn’t even require all of the assets of the 100 top richest stockholders to purchase the entire district of Bundang in Gyeonggi Province. This area is often referred to as the “closest place to heaven” by realtors and residents alike for its infrastructure and close proximity to Seoul.
Most of these stockholders are, as you may have guessed, founding family members of the country’s top five business groups ― Samsung, Hyundai, Lotte, LG and SK.
A total of 34 individuals with such ties to these five industrial groups own a total of 47.2 trillion won in stocks. This means their assets are worth more than the combined real estate price of the entire area of Bundang, which is worth around 46.9 trillion won. Their wealth is also equivalent to the price of the nation’s nine most expensive apartment complexes, which contain 42,059 apartments.
If they wanted to, these people could also easily buy entire cities given that the apartments in South Chungcheong Province have a total worth of 43.1 trillion won, while those in Gwangju are worth 39 trillion won, those in North Gyeongsang Province are worth 37.4 trillion won and those in Ulsan are worth 34.2 trillion won.
Samsung’s rich stockholders
The so-called “Pan-Samsung” clan is composed of Samsung Group, led by Lee Kun-hee; CJ, led by Lee Kun-hee’s nephew Lee Jae-hyun; and Shinsegae, led by Lee Kun-hee’s younger sister Lee Myung-hee. Their combined stock value is estimated at around 17.5 trillion won, including Lee Kun-hee’s 10.8 trillion won and Lee Jae-hyun’s 1.8 trillion won.
With this money, the family could buy the entire Banpo Jugong Complex 1, Gaepo Jugong Complex 1 and Eunma apartments, which contain a combined 13,054 households, and still have 3 trillion won left over. These are the nation’s most expensive and ninth- and tenth-most expensive apartment complexes, with their values standing at 5.9 trillion won, 3.99 trillion won and 3.93 trillion won, respectively.
Lee Kun-hee, the wealthiest man in South Korea, could even create a city of his own. He could afford the 5.9 trillion won Jugong Apartment Complex 1 as well as all the apartments on Jejudo Island ― containing 47,720 households ― with his stocks.
Hyundai’s rich stockholders
A total of 11 individuals belonging to the Hyundai family one way or another and with ties with the late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung are ranked among the top 100 richest stockholders. They reportedly have 16.15 trillion won in stocks.
Among them, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo’s shares stand at 6.5 trillion won, meaning he is wealthy enough to buy any apartment complex in the country. His son, the automotive group’s vice chairman Eui-sun, has another 3.5 trillion won in shares, which gives the father-son duo up to 10.4 trillion won to spare.
The country’s second- and fourth-wealthiest men in terms stock value can afford to purchase apartments in the burgeoning city of Pangyo in Gyeonggi Province, which are estimated to be worth around 9.5 trillion won in total.
Rich stockholders in SK, LG and Lotte
The “Pan-LG families,” composed of LG founding family Koo and the Hur family, at the helm of GS, have eight people on the top 100 list. Their combined stock is worth 4.8 trillion won. With this money, the LG clan could purchase 90 percent of the 33,717 detached houses in Jinju city, South Gyeongsang Province. Jinju is where the late Koo In-hoe, the founder of LG, was born.
Lotte family members who have ties with the founder Shin Kyuk-ho own a total of 4.46 trillion won in stocks, which is enough to buy up more than half of all apartments in Ulju County of Ulsan, where Shin was born.
The SK Group chairman and two other relatives in the founding Chey family reportedly possess a total of 4.2 trillion won worth of stocks, which makes them able to buy the entire Raemian apartment complex in the prestigious area of Banpo-dong, southern Seoul.
Chairman Chey Tae-won’s wealth alone is estimated at around 3.1 trillion won in stocks and is enough to buy all the apartments on Jejudo Island, which are valued at 3.7 trillion won.
By Korea Herald Special Investigative Team