Back To Top

1 in 2 corporate executives in Korea under age 51: data


Almost one in two corporate executives of South Korea’s top conglomerates and listed companies were under 51, either Generation X or Millennials, industry data showed Monday.

Of 7,438 executives in South Korea’s top 30 conglomerates and 197 listed companies, 46.8 percent, or 3,484 of them, were Gen Xers -- those born between 1969 the early 1980s -- or Millennials also referred as Generation Y -- those born after 1981, as of the third quarter of this year, according to corporate analysis firm Leaders Index.

Such figures had increased by 19.5 percentage points compared to the third quarter in 2019. 

A generational shift in corporate executives was most apparent among IT companies. 

Internet giant Naver Corp. had 114 of 121 executives filled with Gen Xers or younger. Including the company’s latest CEO nominee, Cho Soo-yeon who is 40 years old, 23 of them were Millennials. 

Among Kakao Group’s three listed companies, 14 of 15 executives were Gen Xers or younger, except the founder and Chairman Kim Beom-su.
Almost half of the executives, or 2,081 of them, at the country’s top four conglomerates were Gen Xers or younger. 

At Samsung’s 16 listed companies, 55.5 percent or 1,033 executives were younger than 51. Such proportion showed a 20.4 percentage point increase compared to 2019. 

Hyundai Motor Group had the lowest ratio of Gen Xers or Millennials in executive positions at 32 percent, or 336 of 1,051 executives, at its 12 listed companies. But still showed a 9.7 percentage point increase compared to two years ago. 

SK Group’s 19 listed companies had 53.6 percent or 334 of 623 executives born after 1969, about a 21.7 percentage point increase from 2019. 

LG Group also showed a 21.4 percentage point increase during the same period in the number of Gen Xers or Millennials filling executive positions, with 50.7 percent or 378 of 745 executives. 

Meanwhile, companies in the manufacturing sectors -- steelmaking, chemistry, automotive and shipbuilding -- showed relatively lower ratios of young executives. 

Posco Group had only 0.7 percent of its executives born after 1969, while logistics and aviation group Hanjin had 13.9 percent of their executive positions filled with Gen Xers or Millennials. Some 16 percent of S-Oil’s executives were Gen Xers or Millennials. 

By Kim Da-sol (
Korea Herald daum