None of the Richest Koreans Are Self-Made
The Chosun Ilbo
Jan 05, 2016

None of the richest Koreans are self-made billionaires, according to Bloomberg's list of the world's 400 richest people.

All five Koreans on the list inherited their wealth, whereas 28 out of the 29 Chinese entrants and all five Japanese tycoons on the list are self-made.

Worldwide, some 65 percent or 259 are self-made billionaires and only 35 percent or 141 inherited their money.

The world's top 10 richest people are founders of start-ups that revolutionized their respective industries -- Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, who co-founded Inditex that owns retail brand Zara, CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

But the Koreans on the list are all children or grandchildren of the founders of big conglomerates -- Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, Amore Pacific chairman Suh Kyung-bae, Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor chairman Chung Mong-koo and SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won.

There are 80 Asian tycoons on the list, and 70 percent of them are self-made.

The lack of Koreans who become rich by founding innovative businesses stokes concerns that the business landscape chokes successful startups before they can properly establish themselves.

Self-made tycoons are becoming extinct here. Shipbuilding and offshore plant builder STX Group, the only new entrant in the nation's top 20 businesses since 2000, has gone bankrupt, while IT companies like Naver, Kakao, Nexon and NCsoft, seem to have hit the limits of their growth potential.

"Things will only improve if the government comes up with support programs for young entrepreneurs, giving them an opportunity to contribute to an economic revival," said Bae Sang-kun at the Korea Economic Research Institute.

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