In the past, women in chaebol families only had titles like “madam” or “director” as they mostly stayed out of the limelight. However, as second- and third-generation chaebol daughters have taken on company management, those titles have been replaced with another: “working moms.” The number of working chaebol mothers in Korea is increasing, but they are also noteworthy in that they continue their careers after having children, and in extreme cases, very shortly after childbirth.
Hotel Shilla president Lee Boo-jin gave birth to a son in 2007 in her eighth year of marriage. Lee, who was then the director of the hotel, surprised the public with her work ethic, as she returned to work just three days after giving birth. She has also been spotted several times outside her workplace spending time with her children ― in 2011, she was spotted shopping with her son at the food section of Shinsegae Department store, and in 2012, was seen watching a baseball game with him at the Mokdong Baseball Stadium. She and her son were also seen together last month in a toy store.
Lee Boo-jin’s younger sister and Cheil Industries president Lee Seo-hyun is also a working mother, with a son and three daughters. Since she started work in 2012 as the head of the Cheil Industries fashion division, Lee Seo-hyun has pursued a career and looked after her children at the same time. She is known to actively take part in parent activities at her daughter’s elementary school despite her busy schedule, such as cleaning the school grounds with other mothers.
Orion vice chairman Lee Hwa-kyung started her career at a young age, working as an intern at Orion Confectionery in 1975 and eventually becoming the company president in 2001 unlike her sister, Tong Yang Group vice chairwoman Lee Hye-kyung, who jumped into a career after living as a homemaker. During that time, Lee Hwa-kyung had to do double duty as a businesswoman and a mother of a daughter and a son. Lee is noted for not having missed a day of work for 40 years other than her maternity leave for her two children.
NCSoft president Yoon Song-yee, who is married to the company CEO Kim Taek-jin, gave birth to a son in 2008, but was noted for returning to work just two months after giving birth. Her husband mentioned her work ethic in an interview in 2009, stating that “President Yoon is such an avid reader that she reads even when she is breastfeeding.” Yoon has since given birth to another son and is currently a working mother of two children.
MEDIPOST CEO Yang Yoon-sun, who is often mentioned as a self-made woman, became a businesswoman after she quit working at Samsung Medical Center in 2000 and set up a medical business specializing in cord blood storage and transplantation. Yang, who has a son and a daughter, stressed the difficulties of being a working mother, saying that, “a company expects the same amount of work from both men and women, but household chores are expected to be done almost exclusively by women.”
By The Korea Herald Superrich Team (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kwon Nam-keun/Hong Seung-wan/Sung Yeon-jin/Bae Ji-sook/Yoon Hyun-jong/Min Sang-seek/Kim Hyun-il/Sang Youn-joo