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From classy to notorious: Nexon’s Kim Jung-ju

[THE INVESTOR] Kim Jung-ju seemed to have it all.

The 48-year-old tech tycoon was born with a silver spoon in his mouth; his father was a lawyer and his mother majored in piano at the nation’s top university, Seoul National University -- coincidentally Kim’s alma mater too.

In the ’80s, when personal computers were still a rarity, Kim had the luxury of owning one. While tinkering on it, he decided to become an engineer of a sort.

NXC chairman Kim Jung-ju attends prosecutor's office / The Investor
NXC chairman Kim Jung-ju attends prosecutor's office / The Investor

At the same time, he was also an accomplished violinist, according to those close to him. In elementary school, he won a violin competition, and is also known to have taken several professional-level music classes in college. In short, he was a cultured nerd.

Kim eventually graduated from SNU, then went onto KAIST graduate school.

It was in 1994, when Kim was barely 30 years old, that he created the online gaming company Nexon.
His first big break came two years later in 1996 with the hit RPG game, “The Kingdom of the Wind.”

It remains hugely popular to this day, with the accumulated number of subscribers reaching 23 million -- South Korea has a population of 50 million.
Other games such as “Maple Story” and “Kart Rider” would later go onto become best-selling hits for Nexon.

But the man behind this success for most part kept to himself.

Kim stayed out of the limelight, right until the latest scandal involving prosecutor Jin Kyung-joon erupted.

One reason he could avoid attention was because Nexon was listed in Japan. Nexon Japan shares were listed on Tokyo’s main bourse in 2011, and market capitalization at the time stood at 8 trillion won (US$7.04 billion).

Prior to that, in 2005, Nexon was split into Nexon Holdings -- the precursor to current holding company NXC headed by Kim -- and Nexon. The entirety of the Nexon’s Korean office was sold to Nexon Japan.

NXC, the holding company, is wholly owned by Kim, and it holds a controlling stake in Nexon Japan, which in turn controls Nexon Korea.
As of June this year, his net worth reached 1.8 billion dollars, according to Forbes. He was the sixth richest Korean in the Forbes’ list. 

On July 17, the billionaire was called in for questioning by the prosecution.

Once a classy business legend under wraps, many note that Kim has now gained more notoriety than he ever imagined to gain. 

By Kim Ji-hyun (