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Young owner family executives, many of them women, emerging in Korean business world

April 20, 2020 - 14:11 By Shin Ji-hye

Compared with years past, more of the executives from owner families at South Korea’s conglomerates are women or members of the younger generation, data from a local corporate tracker showed Monday.

Six group chairpersons were born since 1970 and nearly a quarter of the conglomerates’ 150 young executives are women, the Korea CXO Institute said, citing its survey of the 200 largest groups.

Among the younger business leaders in charge at the nation’s top 10 conglomerates are LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, 42, and Hanjin Chairman Cho Won-tae, 45. Koo became the chairman of LG Group in 2018 at age 40. Cho took the helm at Hanjin Group when his father Cho Yang-ho died in April last year.

Chung Ji-sun, 48, has been the chairman of Hyundai Department Store for 13 years. Lee In-ok, 49, has maintained his title as chairman of Chosun Refractories since 2013.

Yoon Ho-joong, 49, of Korea Yakult, and Park Joo-hwan, 37, of Huchems, assumed their current roles this year.

Among potential candidates for top roles in the near future are 15 young vice chairmen, the survey showed.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, 50, and Nexen Group Vice Chairman Kang Ho-chan, 49, are the only sons of their respective companies’ current leaders, Chung Mong-koo and Kang Byung-joong.

The survey found 33 young female presidents among the 200 conglomerates. They include Lee Boo-jin, 50, from Hotel Shilla, Chung Yoo-kyung, 48, from Shinsegae and Sung Rae-eun, 42, at Youngwon Holdings.

Of all the executives from the 150 owner families born since the 1970s, the largest proportion -- 24 -- were born in 1974 or 1975. Another 23 were born in 1970 or 1971, and four were born in the 1990s.

The youngest member of an owner family who holds an executive title is Kim Min-sung, managing director of Hoban Industrial, the second son of Hoban Construction Chairman Kim Sang-yeol. Kim, 26, is the largest shareholder in Hoban Industrial with a 41.99 percent stake. His older sister Yoon-hye, 28, director of Hoban Vertium, is the youngest female executive from any of the owner families. Hoban Construction Vice President Kim Dae-hun, 32, the eldest son of Chairman Kim, is also in his early 30s and owns a 54.73 percent stake in Hoban Construction.

Of the 150 young executives, 116 were men and 34 were women. Men accounted for 77.3 percent of the total and women 22.7 percent. 

By Shin Ji-hye (