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No. of South Korean rich surges twofold in decade

Oct. 28, 2020 - 16:03 By Choi Jae-hee

The number of rich people in South Korea has more than doubled in the past 10 years, a report showed Wednesday.

According to the Korea Wealth Report 2020 released by KB Financial Group Research Institute, the number of people with financial assets worth more than 1 billion won ($884,000) reached 350,000 last year, up 9.6 percent on-year. The report defines a rich as a person holding financial assets worth more than 1 billion won.

The number of Korean rich has been growing for nine years, with an average annual growth rate of 9.2 percent. The figure posts more than a twofold increase from 160,000 estimated in 2010. 

By region, 45.8 percent, or 162,000 people, were living in Seoul, followed by Gyeonggi Province and Busan with 77,000 and 25,000, respectively.
The rich population was holding combined assets of 2,154 trillion won last year, a 90 percent increase from 1,158 trillion won in 2010.

The value of their financial assets has been growing faster than the household wealth of South Koreans in general. 

South Koreans were estimated to hold a combined 3,760 trillion won in financial assets last year from 2,186 trillion won in 2010, a 70 percent increase over nearly a decade.

This indicates a growing economic disparity in the country, the report suggested.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the prolonged coronavirus crisis, about 30.5 percent of the rich experienced a 21.3 percent decrease in their monthly household earnings on average, including earned income, business revenues, financial gains and lease income. However, the more financial assets they had, the lower the rate of decline in their monthly income during the pandemic. Those holding assets of 3 billion won or less saw their earnings slip 22 percent, while those having more than 3 billion won in assets saw an 18.3 percent decline. 

KB Financial Group’s ninth annual report estimated the figures based on various consumer data compiled by the Bank of Korea, KB Financial Group and Statistics Korea, along with its own survey of the 400 richest people in the country. 

By Choi Jae-hee (