BUSINESS

[Super Rich] Seven numbers to explain self-made billionaire owner of Smilegate

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Dec 22, 2016 - 17:39
  • Updated : Dec 23, 2016 - 09:36
About a year and nine months ago, Kwon Hyuk-bin joined the list of South Korean billionaires. Kwon is the chairman of game making company Smilegate which is known for its hugely popular game “Crossfire.” He joined the club with 2 billion won ($1.6 million) in private assets.

Kwon is regarded as the richest self-made man in Korea.

This week, The Superrich Team takes a look at seven numbers that explain Kwon’s success story. 

Kwon Hyuk-bin, founder of Smilegate (Smilegate)


1. 25: Kwon started his first business at age of 25

Kwon was born in 1974. As an engineering student at Sogang University, he started his first venture firm in 1999, which was called 4C Soft, an online education solution provider. He then proceeded to develop an editing program targeting video lecturers in 2000. The program was supplied to top local conglomerates and prestigious universities overseas.

2. 34: When Kwon became a millionaire

Even though his business was doing well, it was not competitive enough to survive the cutthroat e-learning market. After taking a break, he started an online game business Smilegate in 2002. The online shooting game “CrossFire” was launched in 2007 in Korea and China.

When Kwon was 34, Smilegate saw a record-high 4.8 billion won in sales. His assets exceeded 1.1 billion won then.

3. 4.2 million to 8 million: The number of total users within three years

“CrossFire” gained significant popularity when Smilegate signed a partnership deal with China‘s giant game maker Tencent. In 2012, the game had 4.2 million users worldwide and made it into the Guinness World Records for having the largest number of game users online.

Three years later, the game broke its own record with 8 million users from all over the world. About 650 million players from 80 countries have played the game.

4. 41: Kwon became a billionaire at the age of 41

The huge popularity of “CrossFire” made the world pay attention to Kwon.

Smilegate’s corporate value was estimated at more than $3 billion in 2014, according to VentureBeat and Strong Venture.

At 41, Forbes magazine categorized him as a billionaire, estimating his personal assets at more than $2 billion.

5. 890.6 billion won: Kwon’s estimated private assets at minimum

Taking into consideration that Smilegate is an unlisted venture under Kwon’s complete ownership, The Superrich Team analyzed his assets based on the firm and its 13 subsidiaries’ total equity, which marked 890.6 billion won last year. The previous year it was 662.8 billion won.

6. 241.6 billion won: added value that Smilegate creates

Smilegate’s growth has created added value, or surplus value through its constant input in capital and labor force. This is one of the key indicators that helps to rate productivity and performances of an enterprise.

According to The Superrich Team’s analysis, Smilegate created a 241.6 billion won surplus last year -- more than a threefold jump over five years.

7. 500 million won: The first local content maker to exceed 500 million won in experts

This year Smilegate has taken the lead among local exporters. Smilegate was given the award “Tower of Export” at an event hosted by Korea International Trade Association on Dec. 5. The venture firm also won the same award in 2014 when it saw $190 million in overseas sales. (jiwon.song@heraldcorp.com)

By The Superrich Team

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Hong Seung-wan

Kim Yoon-mi

Yoon Hyun-jong

Min Sang-seek

Lee Se-jin

Song Ji-won


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