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Court puts end to SK chief's high-profile divorce

Dec. 6, 2022 - 18:26 By Shim Woo-hyun
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won (left) and Roh So-young (Yonhap)

A Seoul court on Tuesday ordered SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won to pay 66.5 billion won ($50 million) in property division to Roh So-young, ending the couple’s marriage of 34 years. Chey will also have to pay 100 million won in alimony, the court added.

The Seoul Family Court announced its ruling on the divorce suit that was filed by Roh in December 2019. The court dismissed a separate divorce suit filed by Chey, saying he is the person who is responsible for the divorce.

The couple’s legal fight dates back to 2015 when Chey admitted to an extramarital affair and having a child outside of his marriage. Two years later, he started divorce proceedings, seeking a divorce settlement mediated by a court.

But, the couple failed to reach an agreement, and the case was sent back to court, mainly as Roh refused to divorce until 2019, when she changed her mind and filed a lawsuit asking for 300 million won in alimony and 6.5 million of Chey's shares in SK Inc., the holding company of SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate.

Chey holds a total of 12.97 million shares, or 17.5 percent, in the holding unit.

Chey’s divorce drew attention after the amount of settlement that Roh asked for was revealed, although the actual property division announced on Tuesday was far less than what Roh initially demanded.

The high-profile divorce between the couple, however, is still listed as the most expansive divorce case to date in Korea.

Chey and Roh, the daughter of late former President Roh Tae-woo, married in 1988 at the state guest house of Cheong Wa Dae, the former presidential office.

SK Group’s rapid expansion gained momentum in the 1980s when it acquired two state-run companies – Korea Oil, now SK Innovation, and Korea Mobile Telecommunication Services, now SK Telecom – that still play a key role as the group’s two business pillars.