Ex-Kakao CEOs highest paid executives in H1
Top brass at SK companies rewarded with hefty incentives on upbeat earnings
Published : Aug 17, 2022 - 14:43
Updated : Aug 17, 2022 - 15:04
Ex-Kakao Corp. co-CEOs Joh Su-yong (left) and Yeo Min-soo (GettyImages)
Yeo Min-soo and Joh Su-yong, who stepped down from top seats of mobile internet giant Kakao Corp. earlier this year, were highest paid executives in South Korea in the first half of this year, filings showed Wednesday.

Joh was disclosed to have been compensated 36.15 billion won ($27.59 million), while Yeo was paid 33.22 billion won, by the company dedicated to mobile messengers, gaming and entertainment, during the January-June period in 2022, according to filings submitted with the Financial Supervisory Service. The two co-chief executive officers did not extend their four-year terms, and the incumbent CEO Namkoong Whoon took their place in March.

The payments largely stem from the exercise of stock options granted to the two during their tenure, as the stock prices have risen fivefold. Solely from stock options, Joh’s compensation amounted to 33.75 billion won, while Yeo‘s came to 31.82 billion won.

Among incumbent executives in boardrooms of Korea’s nonfinancial listed companies, chipmaker SK hynix Vice Chairman Park Sung-wook topped the list as he was remunerated 9.6 billion won. This also includes an 8.4 billion won payment as a result of the exercise of stock options that allowed Park to take profit with the stock price tripling in five years.

Park Jung-ho, who triples as Vice Chairman of SK hynix, mobile carrier SK Telecom and an investment affiliate SK Square, has received a total of 8.76 billion won from the three companies in the first half.

About three-fourths of the remuneration came from incentives from SK hynix and SK Telecom which tend to reflect the previous year‘s performance of the companies. Filings showed that Park’s leadership has contributed to SK hynix’s growth of operating profit in 2021 by 148 percent, as well as its first-stage completion of NAND Flash memory-related asset acquisition from Intel. SK hynix paid him 4.48 billion won and SK Telecom paid him 2.8 billion won.

Meanwhile, among family-owned chaebols, Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin was the highest-paid one, with a compensation of 10.28 billion won. Shin was followed by LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo with 7.14 billion-won half-year wage, Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn with 5.4 billion-won.

Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong, however, has been unpaid in the first half due to employment restrictions on him. The restrictions, as a result of an aggravated punishment for bribery conviction effective after he was released on parole in August 2021, were cleared with the presidential pardon earlier this week.

Instead, Samsung Electronics paid co-CEO Han Jong-hee, who leads consumer electronics business, 2 billion won during the first half, while another co-CEO Kyung Kye-hyun, who oversees semiconductor business, was paid 990 million won. Rather, the tech giant’s mobile business head Roh Tae-moon was remunerated 1.72 billion won.

The highest-paid executives of Samsung Electronics were former CEOs. Among them, Chairman Kim Ki-nam, former head of chip business, was remunerated 3.26 billion won. Kim was followed by former consumer electronics head Kim Hyun-suk and former mobile head Koh Dong-jin, both of whom resigned in February.

In the field of finance, Kim Che-uk, chief managing director of venture capital house Atinum Investment, was paid 26.29 billion won, thanks to the historic-high incentives in Korea‘s venture capital investment scene for leading Atinum’s early-stage investment in companies like cryptocurrency exchange operator Dunamu and e-book platform Ridi.

By Son Ji-hyoung (