Korea’s Wealthy Troublemakers (3)-Hanwha Group Kim Dong-won: Hanwha Group heir Kim Dong-won, left photo, grabbed headlines a few times because of his involvement in brawl, car accident, and drugs. He is presently leading Hanwha Life’s overseas operation and fintech business. On the right is his father, Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Group

Hanwha scion caused multiple troubles related to drugs, alcohol

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

Kim Dong-won is the second son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn. After graduating from Yale University, he got aboard Hanwha in 2014 and has worked for Hanwha Life since 2015.

Kim Dong-won, who was born in 1985, grabbed headlines even before he joined Hanwha Group, as he had a much-publicized brawl at a karaoke in southern Seoul in the early hours of March 8, 2007.

Headed by a man surnamed Cho, who works at a bar in downtown Seoul, several attacked Kim Donw-won, who tumbled down the stairs during the altercation to suffer a cut near his eye, requiring more than 10 stitches.

Upon hearing his son’s accident in the afternoon of the day, Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn abducted those who seemed to be responsible for the incident to a mountainous region near Seoul.

They were threatened and beat there by the chairman and his bodyguards, who allegedly carried steel pipes, and electric shock devices.

Realizing they failed to catch Cho, Chairman Kim Seung-youn and his underlings visited the bar in downtown Seoul in the evening of the day to find out the assailant.

Chairman Kim Seung-youn ordered Kim Dong-won to make an “eye-for-eye revenge attack.” Kim Dong-won reportedly hit Cho in the face under the instruction of his father.

Then, according to media reports, Chairman Kim Seung-youn made boilermakers with his son, and Cho, asking for reconciliation. He paid 1 million won ($800) and left.

The two rounds of revenge assaults, which some media outlets likened to “an underworld gang movie,” the two Kim’s faced police investigations and Chairman Kim Seung-youn was eventually put behind bars.

In July 2017, Kim Seung-youn was sentenced to an 18-month jail term. He was released after an appeals court handed down him a suspended sentence two months later.

Kim Dong-won was not punished, but he also came under criticism as he left the country just before the court imposed an overseas trip ban on him.

And his personal brush with the law came in a few years.

In February 2011, police booked Kim Dong-won as he left the scene of a car crash without taking necessary measures. He was fined 7 million won ($6,000).

Back then, the court blasted Kim Dong-won for having fled the scene, although the car accident was quite serious.

Three years later, he was indicted for smoking cannabis, which was smuggled by U.S. Forces Korea, four times. Cannabis is a prohibited substance in Korea.

In February 2014, he received an eight-month jail term suspended for two years and was instructed to attend drug treatment sessions.

However, Hanwha seemingly did not care much about the verdict.

The very next month after the ruling, Kim Dong-won joined Hanwha Advanced Materials Corporation and moved to Hanwha life in 2015. Currently, he is leading the life insurer’s overseas operation and fintech business.

In particular, Kim Dong-won put forth efforts to turn around Hanwha Life’s Vietnam operation, which had been stuck in deficits for the past decade since its launch in 2009.

Excluding in 2016 when the Vietnam entity netted a mere 400 million won profit, Hanwha Life continued to lose money there. Its net losses amounted to 13.9 billion won in 2017, and 7.9 billion won in 2018.

Last year, Hanwha Life managed to chalk up a 20 billion won net profit in Vietnam. And it remains to be seen whether the outfit will be able to keep racking up profits under the stewardship of Kim Dong-won.