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Over 80,000 millionaires, 20 billionaires in Seoul: report

Korean capital outnumbers Tokyo when it comes to billionaires

By Im Eun-byel

Published : May 8, 2024 - 15:43

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A view of apartment complexes in Seoul (Newsis) A view of apartment complexes in Seoul (Newsis)

There are over 80,000 individuals in Seoul with wealth of over $1 million, making it the city in the world with the 19th-highest number of millionaires, a recent study found.

Around 82,500 residents in Seoul have wealth over $1 million as of December 2023, according to the “2024 World’s Wealthiest Cities” report issued by investment migration consultant Henry & Partners in collaboration with global data intelligence firm New World Wealth, Tuesday.

In the annual report, wealth refers to an individual’s liquid investable assets, comprising company holdings, cash holdings and debt-free residential property, Henry & Partners explained.

Seoul took the 19th spot on the millionaire residents list, following Houston, Texas, with 90,900 and Zurich with 88,400. Geneva and Dubai followed with 79,800 and 72,500 respectively.

In addition, 195 individuals held wealth over $100 million and 20 residents had wealth exceeding $1 billion in Seoul. The number of billionaires in Seoul was larger than Tokyo’s 14.

However, the number of millionaires in Seoul dropped by more than 10,000 in a year, standing at 97,000 in last year’s report. The number of residents with wealth over $100 million and $1 billion also declined from 229 and 24, respectively.

The report did not specify the reason, but South Korea's stock market showed weak performance and the real estate market went into a prolonged slump.

In the report, New York City topped the millionaire list with 349,500 residents with wealth exceeding $1 million, followed by 305,700 millionaires in the Bay Area, California, including San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Tokyo’s 298,300, Singapore’s 244,800 and London's 227,000.

According to the report, the total wealth held by New York residents exceeds $3 trillion -- higher than the total wealth held in most major Group of 20 major countries.

Despite the on-year drop in the number of high-net-worth individuals, Seoul has been displaying gradual growth in the figure over the past decade. The number of millionaires in Seoul has risen by 28 percent from 2013 to 2023, while the figure dropped by 5 percent in Tokyo and 10 percent in London during the same period.

Chinese cities took the lead in the growth rate of the number of millionaires, with the figure rising by 140 percent in Shenzhen, 125 percent in Hangzhou and 90 percent in Beijing.

Dominic Volek, head of private clients at Henley & Partners, said seven of the top 10 wealthiest cities in the world are in countries that host investment migration programs, encouraging foreign direct investment in return for residence or citizenship rights.

"The more jurisdictions a family can access, the more diversified its assets, the lower its exposure to country-specific and regional risks, and the greater the opportunities they can enjoy,” Volek said.

“Likewise, cities and countries can use investment migration as an innovative financing mechanism to attract the world’s wealthiest and most talented to their shores.”