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Most of S. Korea's richest people are children of chaebol owners

SEOUL, April 30 — Most of South Korea's top 50 richest people have taken over their businesses either from their fathers or grandfathers, data showed Tuesday, in the latest sign that Asia's fourth-largest economy is dominated by conglomerates, known as chaebol in Korea.

CEOSCORE, a Web site that tracks conglomerates as well as financial firms and state-run companies, said 39 out of the 50 people are children of chaebol founders, while only 11 others are self-made businessmen, citing its analysis of financial data posted on the financial watchdog's online regulatory filing system.

The Web site said Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., remains South Korea's richest man, with a net worth of US$ 10.7 billion. Lee took over Samsung Group from his late father and founder Lee Byung-chull in 1987.

On the list was high profile, self-made businessman Kim Joon-il, who founded Lock & Lock, a company which sells storage containers used in kitchens that are sealed with four clip-on locks. Also on the list was Lee Hae-jin, who started NHN with his business partner, which has become South Korea's largest Internet company.

In comparison, only 14 out of Japan's top 50 richest people are children of founders of big companies, while 34 are self-made businessmen, CEOSCORE said, citing the latest Japanese language edition of Forbes.

Tadashi Yanai, founder and CEO of Asia's largest apparel company Fast Retailing, known for its Uniqlo casual clothing shops, topped the list with a net worth of $ 15.5 billion.

Masayoshi Son, a Japanese citizen of Korean descent who founded Asia's leading Internet venture, Softbank, is the third richest man in Japan with a net worth of $ 9.1 billion, according to Forbes.

CEOSCORE said the 14 Japanese became rich by inheriting fortunes of their families. One of them included Nobutada Saji, the third generation to run the family drinks business, Suntory, founded by his grandfather. He is the second richest Japanese with a net worth of $ 10.7 billion.(PNA/Yonhap)


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