The Korea Herald


Conglomerate owner families tilt toward ‘inter-chaebol’ marriages

Business world opting out of political clout, prioritizing ‘same-rank’ in-laws

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : Dec. 16, 2020 - 17:09

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South Korea’s conglomerate owner families are increasingly turning away from the political world and seeking matrimonial ties with peer chaebol families, corporate tracker data showed Wednesday.

Of the incumbent conglomerate owners’ offspring, the majority have married other “chaebol kids,” reflecting the growing preference within business circles for inherited wealth.

According to data compiled and released by CEO Score, 153 out of 317 chaebol owner family members, or 48.3 percent, are married to peer chaebol figures. The survey was conducted on the 55 family-controlled conglomerates that are classified by the Fair Trade Commission as large business groups.

While “chaebol-to-chaebol” marriages accounted for 46.3 percent in the parents’ generation, the figure rose to 50.7 percent in the offspring’s generation.

Matrimonial ties with politicians’ families, in contrast, fell to 7 percent from the 28 percent observed in the earlier generation, data showed.

Also, conglomerate figures have increasingly tied the knot with ordinary people with no high-profile background.

“In the past, it was considered crucial for business circles to form ties with political powers,” said Park Ju-gun, co-chief of CEO Score.

“But the business world has gained power and independence over decades, growing out of such necessity.”

Instead, the inheritance of wealth has risen as the new keyword in the conglomerate arena, he added.

The conglomerates with the most matrimonial ties were GS Group and LS Group. GS Group has made in-laws with Kumho Petrochemical, SeAH, Taekwang, LIG, Byucksan, Asia, Sampyo and Bubang. LS Group has formed ties with Doosan, Kisco Holdings, OCI, BGF, Cheonil Passenger, Sajo, Hyundai Motor Company and Sampyo.

Seo Min-jeong, the eldest daughter of Amorepacific Chairman Seo Kyung-bae, made headlines in October by marrying Hong Jeong-hwan, the eldest son of Bokwang Investment Chairman Hong Seok-joon.

Meanwhile, Kim Dong-gwan, a third-generation figure of Hanwha Group and the CEO of Hanwha Solutions, married a non-chaebol woman last year. Celltrion Executive Director Seo Jun-seok and Hoban Construction CEO Kim Dae-heon also found their respective spouses from outside chaebol circles.

By Bae Hyun-jung (