Hur Hee-soo of SPC Group, left, Kim Dong-won of Hanwha Group, center, and Cho Hyun-ah of Hanjin Group/Photo courtesy of each group

From drugs to alcohol, and power harassment

South Korea’s economy is dominated by chaebol, the sprawling conglomerates like Samsung and Hyundai where founding families exercise full control despite small direct shareholdings.

As the ownership of such conglomerates has been transferred within the founding families, critics claim that some of their members take charge of big corporations despite lack of competence.

Worse, some of them face criminal charges due to wrongdoings related to drugs, alcohol, and “gap-jil,” which refers to the act of bullying the weak in a hierarchical corporate structure.

The Korea News Plus will start a series of highlighting such cases in three parts of drugs, alcohol, and gap-jil (power harassment).

A few outstanding examples are as follows.

Some are involved in multiple parts. As an extreme case, Hanwha Group heir Kim Dong-won, the second son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, is related to all the three.



SPC Group, Hur Hee-soo (1)

CJ Group, Lee Sun-ho (2)

Hanwha Group, Kim Dong-won (3)

SK Group, Choi Young-geun (4)

Hyundai M Partners, Chung Hyun-sun (5)

Namyang Dairy Products, Hwang Ha-na (6)



Hanwha Group, Kim Dong-won (3)

Hanwha Group, Kim Dong-seon (7)

Dongkuk Steel, Chang Sun-ik (8)

Doojung Group, Lim Bum-joon (9)


*Power harassment (gap-jil)

Hanjin Group, Cho Hyun-ah (10)

Hanjin Group, Cho Hyun-min (11)

Daelim Group, Lee Hae-wook (12)

Monggo Foods, Kim Man-sik (13)

MK Group, Jung Woo-hyun (14)


The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.