Korea’s Wealthy Troublemakers (7): Hanwha Group Kim Dong-seon. Kim Dong-seon, left, the youngest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, right, has been involved drunken rampages at least three times. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Group

Hanwha heir involved in drunken rampages at least three times

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

As far as drunken misdemeanors are concerned, Kim Dong-seon might be second to none among South Korea’s chaebol family members. He is the youngest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn.

Kim Dong-seon first made headlines in 2006 by winning a gold medal as the country’s equestrian team member at the Doha Asian Games.

However, the scion grabbed public attention in a more dramatic fashion in September 2010 when he beat security staff while under the influence of alcohol at a Grand Hyatt Seoul’s underground bar.

Kim Dong-seon broke a window by throwing a microphone and was also accused of sexually harassing a women employee. He apologized for having caused trouble through Hanwha’s PR office.

Prosecutors dropped the case because all victims did not want to punish him. Back then, sexual crimes could not be prosecuted without a complaint by the victim.

Kim Dong-seon seemingly shook off the mishap by topping the podium in the following Asian Games in late 2010 and 2014. He also joined Hanwha Engineering & Construction.

Observers expected that the Dartmouth graduate would eventually lead the builder while his two older brothers would head the group’s other businesses of energy, finance, and military products.

But Kim Dong-seon had to go through his worst year of 2017 when the suspicions surfaced whether the young Hanwha heir would be able to become a business leader.

In the early hours of January 5, 2017, Kim Dong-seon had a bar brawl in Seoul’s upscale Gangnam district. He was arrested for attacking two bar workers while drunk.

Worse, Kim Dong-seon damaged a police car while he was carried to a nearby police station for interrogation. He was indicted for several charges, including violence and destruction of public assets.

In March, a Seoul district court gave him eight months in prison suspended for two years. He was also ordered to complete 80 hours of community service.

The criminal trial also let people know that Kim Dong-seon was caught driving under the influence of alcohol in 2016. He was fined for the wrongdoing.

During a court hearing in January 2017, Kim Dong-seon reportedly promised to seek counseling and treatment for alcohol abuse. He also left Hanwha E&C.

Yet, a drunken rampage happened once again in September 2017, or in half a year after the suspended court decision was handed down.

While having a private dinner with a dozen of young lawyers at a restaurant in downtown Seoul, he was suspected of slapping some of them in the face and pulling their hair and making derogatory comments.

Too intoxicated to stand straight, Kim Dong-seon was accused of having ordered them to “keep their backs straight,” while asking them what their fathers do for living in an insulting manner.

The next day, he reportedly apologized to the lawyers, and they accepted it. Even Chairman Kim Seung-youn also apologized to the victims after hearing the havoc.

But a media outlet reported the case in November, which prompted the Korea Bar Association to file a complaint. Police started investigations into the incident.

Kim Dong-seon ran the risks of being imprisoned because his two-year probation did not end. Any jail term would have put him behind bars.

But Police dropped charges against Kim Dong-seon in December because the victims did not seek punishment, and evidence was not sufficient to prove his alleged misdeed.

Thereafter, Kim Dong-seon has not caused trouble due to alcohol. But earlier this year, there was a news report that Kim Dong-seon would return to Hanwha after retiring as a dressage rider.

Hanwha did not confirm his return, according to the report.