Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin, center, and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun/Courtesy of Samsung Group

Chairman Lee Kun-hee loses $3.8 billion in a year

The lingering slump in the global semiconductor business chipped away at the fortune of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee by $3.8 billion over the past year.

However, his net worth of $16.8 billion was big enough to put the bed-ridden businessman atop Korea’s richest people list for 2019 recently announced by the Forbes.

Chairman Lee, who has yet to regain his consciousness after collapsing due to a heart attack in 2014, is the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull. The group’s flagship unit is Samsung Electronics, the world’s primary maker of memory chips.

Chairman Lee’s son of Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of the country’s biggest conglomerate, also shed $1.8 billion last year to rank at the fourth place with $6.1 billion.

Chairman Lee’s two daughters of Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun came in at the 21st place and 24th place, respectively.

The former was the wealthies woman in Asia’s No. 4 economy while the latter was a runner-up in the sector.

Celltrion founder Seo Jung-jin took the second place with the fortune of $7.4 billion followed by Nexon head Kim Jung-ju with $6.3 billion. Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo was No. 5 with $4.3 billion.

The combined net worth of the 50 richest people amounted to some $110 billion in 2019, down 17 percent from a year ago.

Last year, the minimum wealth necessary to make it into the top 50 list was $880 million, but the cutoff dipped to $855 million this year.

In particular, AmorePacific Chairman Suh Kyung-bae took the biggest hit as his net worth more than halved to $3.5 billion.