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Lee Jae-yong’s succession completes generational shift in Korea's chaebol circle

Chaebol scions meet at an event held by the government in 2020. From far left are Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun and LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo. (Yonhap)
Chaebol scions meet at an event held by the government in 2020. From far left are Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun and LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics chief Lee Jae-yong’s promotion to executive chairman on Thursday completes the generational power shift among South Korea’s four major chaebols.

Lee, 54, is a third-generation chaebol scion, like Hyundai Motor's Chung Euisun who is two years younger. SK's Chey Tae-won is the eldest son of the group founder's brother, while LG's Koo Kwang-mor is a fourth-generation chaebol leader.

Chey, 61, assumed the top position at the relatively early age of 38, after his father Chey Jong-hyun -- who took over control from his brother in the 1970s -- died in 1998.

The country’s third-largest chaebol, Hyundai Motor Group, opened a new era of leadership under Chung in 2020. LG's Koo, 44 -- the youngest among the top chaebol executives -- was promoted to the top position in 2018 after former Chairman Koo Bon-moo passed away in the same year.

Besides the four major chaebols, a generational shift is visible at smaller ones, including Hanwha, where group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon’s eldest son Kim Dong-kwan was recently promoted to vice chairman in August. He began working at Hanwha in 2010.

Meanwhile, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a statement Thursday on Lee Jae-yong’s promotion, saying it was "a decision to increase business management stability.”

“Amid a deteriorating business management environment, we expect (Samsung) to fortify responsible management and establish a future strategy as a leader in Korean business, as well as create synergy in the industry by making bold decisions,” the KCCI said in a statement.



By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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