How the rich get richer in South Korea

May 5, 2014

Chaebol families giving stocks to kids amid bearish market

By Yoon Ja-young

While investors are unhappy in the bearish stock market in Korea, chaebol families are using it as an opportunity to hand over stocks to their kids to save on gift tax.

As a result, the country is seeing the largest ever number of “super rich kids.” GS, Hyosung and Doosan Groups are among the most active chaebol engaged in the transfer schemes.

According to, an information provider on the country’s conglomerates, there are 126 children aged under 12 with over 100 million won (about $100,000) worth of stocks as of April.

The research firm compiles the data each April, and the number of the super rich kids has been increasing each year, from 102 in 2012 to 118 last year and to 126 this April.

The bearish stock market during the past few months has discharged some children from the list as a result of a decrease in the value of their assets, but more children have joined the list by inheriting stocks.

The richest among these chaebol juniors was the second son of GS Energy executive vice president Huh Yong-soo, cousin of GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo.

The junior Huh was given 273,000 shares of GS Holdings in 2009 when he was five years old, and later bought more shares. He currently holds 321,000 shares of GS valued at 15.5 billion won ($14.6 million). He has received 1.9 billion won (about $1.85 million) in dividends since 2009.

The grandson of Hanmi Pharmaceutical Chairman Lim Sung-ki ranked as the second richest kid with 8.6 billion won (about $8.35 million) in stocks.

The chairman’s seven grandchildren each have over 8 billion won ($7.8 million) in stocks from Hanmi Science, the holding company of Hanmi Pharmaceutical.

The two sons of Paradise Group Chairman Chun Phil-lip, aged 10 and 12, each hold around 3.6 billion won ($3.5 million) in stocks of the group.

Two sons of Seoul Pharma CEO Hwang Woo-sung have 3.6 billion won ($3.5 million) stocks each. They inherited the shares from their grandfather, the founder of the company.

Some of the chaebol juniors on the list are infants. A family member of Kyungin KISCO Chairman Kim Heung-june, who is only one year old, got 1.1 billion won ($1 million) worth stocks last November.

Miwon Chemical CEO Kim Chong-don also has a one-year-old family member with 970 million won ($940,000) in shares.

Among the widely known conglomerates, GS Group, Hyosung Group, Doosan Group, Hankook Tire and SeAH Group are most actively transferring stocks to kids.

Chairman of Hankook Tire Cho Yang-rae has granted his four grandchildren 990 million won ($961,000) in shares, each, and the two grandchildren of Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Suck-rae, who is Hankook Tire chairman’s elder brother, also each have over 700 million won ($680,000) in shares.