Private equity billionaire Michael ByungJu Kim is on top of this year’s Forbes 50 Richest Koreans list. With a personal net worth of $9.7 billion, Kim manages more than $26 billion in assets through his company MBK Partners.
Forbes reported that only a few on the list of 50 richest saw their wealth rise last year, and none more so than Michael Kim. He was the highest gainer in terms of percentage and absolute value, with a $2 billion increase in his net worth. Second on the list was Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee, who took over as executive chairman of Samsung Electronics last October. The decline in demand for smartphones and memory chips caused his wealth to dip from $9.2 billion to $8 billion.
Michael B. Kim was born in Korea but his status as the wealthiest person in Korea may be surprising given the fact that he grew up in New Jersey. He went on to graduate as an English Literature major from Haverford College before obtaining his MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a bestselling novelist as well as a businessman and chooses to split his time fairly equally between the US and Korea.
👉 Read more about Michael Kim in our exclusive interview.
Michael Kim co-founded MBK Partners in Seoul in 2005 after leaving Carlyle Asia Partners. MBK Partners focuses on the North Asia market and is the owner of Godiva Asia, including all retail and distribution operations in Korea, Japan, and Australia. Beating out a crowded field of bidders, MBK completed the sweet acquisition in June 2019.
According to Korea Economic Daily, MBK Partners has distributed $18.3 billion to its investors. This is one of the highest totals in the North Asia region.
Here are 5 things to know about Michael Kim, Korea’s richest person:
1. Michael Kim and his wife run the MBK Scholarship Foundation, which has sent over 200 talented, underprivileged students to college.
2. He’s on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he pledged a donation of $10 million last year.
Entrance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
3. He is a bestselling author of the novel, “Offerings”, a story that very much resembles MBK’s own life.
4. A lifelong sports fan, he was reportedly in the running to purchase Major League Baseball team, the Washington Nationals. He also played varsity basketball at Haverford College and is currently his club champion in squash, which they endearingly call the ajussi league.
5. Kim’s job entails quite a bit of travel, and his rule is to eat local food only. So only French food when traveling in France, pasta in Italy, and fish and chips in England. When in Korea, one of his favorite restaurants is a small soondubu place in Seoul called Gamchon.
Chadolbaegi soondubu jjigae at Gamchon in Seoul, Korea.