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NCSoft CEO Kim top chaebol earner in 2018

Apr 03,2019
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Samsung Electronics executives no longer have the highest total compensation in the country.

According to an analysis of disclosures made to the Financial Supervisory Service, all of Samsung’s top executives received salaries and bonuses totaling less than 10 billion won ($8.8 million) in 2018. In previous years, executives from the company were at the top of the list, all of them making more than 20 billion won a year.

Lower bonuses were to blame.

“Our executive salaries decreased significantly as we decreased our performance-based bonus level from 50 percent to 25 percent last year,” the company said.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun made 7.034 billion won last year, which is far lower than his pay of 24.381 billion won the previous year. Salary information for Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was not reported as he has not received a salary or bonuses since March 2017 and earned less than 500 million won last year.

NCSoft CEO Kim Taek-jin became the top earner among the heads of Korea’s chaebol last year, taking home 13.8 billion won. He was followed by CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun at 13.7 billion won.

“The company’s Lineage M was the No. 1 Google Play app by revenue last year,” an NCSoft spokesperson said, explaining the compensation.

Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, who lost control of Korean Air last month, earned 10.7 billion won in salary and bonuses from five affiliate companies.

“Chairman Cho received 6.64 billion won from three affiliates in 2017, but his salary increased significantly as he started getting salaries from Korea Airport Service and Jin Air,” Korean Air said.

Lee Woong-yeol, former chairman of Kolon Group, received the most total compensation. He quit all positions at the company late last year and took home 45.47 billion won, which includes retirement pay. That breaks down as 4.4 billion won in salary and 41.07 billion won for retirement pay.

Hyundai Motor, despite recording the worst operating profit since 2010 last year, increased compensation for its executives.

Chairman Chung Mong-koo received approximately 9.6 billion won, up 1.5 billion won from 2017. Executive Vice Chairman Euisun Chung was compensated 2.951 billion won.

SK Holdings chief executive Chey Tae-won, who was appointed as a director of the holding company last week, received 3 billion won each from SK and SK Hynix. The total last year is up 4 billion won from 2017.

“His annual salary increased as he received 3 billion won from SK Hynix, which had a successful business year last year,” an SK spokesperson said.

Former LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo, who passed away last May, received a total of 28.58 billion won last year. The number includes 20.136 billion won of retirement pay and 8.41 billion won of salary and bonus.

Current LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, who has been leading the group since last June, made around 1.27 billion won for work from July to December.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin earned 7.817 billion won last year, even though he voluntarily paid back his seven months of salary for being imprisoned last year.

Amorepacific Chairman Suh Kyung-bae made 3.05 billion won last year. In 2017, he made 10.9 billion won.

The company explained that the decrease came as “his bonus decreased from 5.64 billion won to 527 million won between 2017 and 2018.”


BY CHANG CHUNG-HOON, CHUN YOUNG-SUN, PARK MIN-JE and OH WON-SEOK [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]