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FSC deputy chairman is S. Korea's wealthiest civil servant

Aug. 26, 2022 - 15:00 By Jung Min-kyung
FSC Vice Chairman Kim So-young (Yonhap)
South Korea’s deputy finance policymaker was identified as the civil servant with the highest-value personal assets in the country, including shares worth some 20 billion won ($15 million) in a family business, a government ethics committee said Friday.

Financial Services Commission Vice Chairman Kim So-young’s net assets – including real estate, stocks and savings -- amounted to a total of 29.2 billion won, making him the “richest” civil servant in the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, data disclosed by the Government Ethics Committee under the Ministry of Personnel Management showed.

Of the total assets, the majority, or 20.9 billion won were Kim’s 29.26 percent stake in Joongang Shipping, an unlisted bulk carrier operator headed by one of Kim’s family members. Kim is the second-largest shareholder of the company.

Other stock investments included shares worth 314 million won in local businesses including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Woori Financial Group.

The value of Kim’s real estate portfolio amounted to 5.1 billion won, including an apartment in Yongsan, central Seoul, co-owned with his wife valued at 2.6 billion won.

He also had savings in a financial company amounting to 3.4 billion won and golf club memberships worth 220 million won.

The government is currently reviewing whether Kim’s stake in Joongang Shipping is a “conflict of interest.” If the government deems the investment is “unethical” as a civil servant, Kim must either sell the shares or put it in a “blind trust.” A blind trust is an asset vehicle or a trust into which an individual can place his or her assets that could otherwise create conflicts of interest.

Kim is also an economics professor at Seoul National University, where he was hired in 2009. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from SNU in 1990 and both his masters and Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.

Meanwhile, President Yoon and first lady Kim Keon-hee reported a joint asset of a combined 7.6 billion won. Yoon’s personal assets came to 525 million won, while Kim reported some 5 billion won. The majority of the assets were cash savings.