Korea’s Wealthy Troublemakers (1)-SPC Group Hur Hee-soo: SPC Group heir Hur Hee-soo, left photo, was once a promising young entrepreneur but became a pariah overnight after being imprisoned for his illegal drug use. On the right is his father, SPC Group Chairman Hur Young-in. Photo courtesy of SPC Group

SPC heir was imprisoned in 2018 for illegal drug use

This is the first of a series, which highlights Korea’s wealthy businesspeople who caused troubles related to drugs, alcohol, and power harassment called “gap-jil” here. _ ED.

In 2016, SPC Group launched Shake Shack, a famous New York burger chain, in southern Seoul to chalk up a great success. People were lining up for hours to eat there.

Based on its popularity, SPC Group has opened more than 10 Shake Shack restaurants over the past few years and plans to double the number to 25 by 2025.

Behind its debut was Hur Hee-soo, the second son of SPC Group Chairman Hur Young-in. He reportedly persuaded Danny Meyer, the creator of the Shake Shack brand, in person to win an exclusive license.

As a result, Hur Hee-soo was promoted to become executive vice president of SPC Group, the country’s leading food conglomerate with such brands as Paris Baguette, in his late 30s.

Back then, some Korean media outlets even predicted that Hur Hee-soo will eventually succeed his father instead of his older brother Hur Jin-soo, who also works for the group.

After studying in Australia, Hur Hee-soo joined SPC Group in 2007. The heir got married to Ahn Lee-nah, daughter of former Aekyung Industrial CEO Ahn Yong-chan.


His bright outlook as a young and promising businessman evaporated overnight in July 2018 when he was imprisoned due to a criminal charge over illegal drug use.

Hee Hee-soo was put behind bars over suspicions of having smuggled and smoked liquid marijuana. He was released in two months as a Seoul district court handed down him a three-year jail term suspended for four years.

As both Hur Hee-soo and the prosecution did not appeal, the verdict was finalized in October 2018. In other words, he is still in the period of probation.

He resigned from his SPC post, but that was not enough. The mishap prompted SPC Group to vow that the disgraced third-generation heir will be removed from the conglomerate’s management for good.

Once an aspiring businessman became a pariah in just a few months due to his unlawful drug use.

And it remains to be seen whether Hur Hee-soo really will not return to the management of SPC because he is still one of the group’s major shareholders.

News reports continued that Hur Hee-soo is set to return to management, but SPC has denied them.

The Union Square Hospitality Group, which has the Shake Shack brand and operates it across the world, would also pay great attention to the issue.