Former Kolon Group chairman Lee Woong-yeol, who stepped down from the post in November last year, turned out to be the highest-paid executive in South Korea last year, thanks to a hefty severance pay of 40 billion won (US$35.30 million) he received from five companies of the group upon retirement.
Lee received a total of 45.57 billion won (US$40.22 million) from five firms, including Kolon, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) on April 1. His severance payment accounted for most of the money he received upon retirement.
Online game publisher NCSoft CEO Kim Taek-jin came second with 13.84 billion won (US$12.21 million), more than double the 6.22 billion won (US$5.49 million) he received in 2017. Kim was the highest paid among the incumbent CEOs.
CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun received a total of 13.65 billion won (US$12.05 million) in salary, including 7.19 billion won (US$6.34 million) from CJ and 6.50 billion won (US$5.73 million) from CJ CheilJedang. Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho also received more than 10 billion won (US$8.83 million). Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo reported a total of 9.58 billion won (US$8.46 million) in wages. Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin earned 7.82 billion won (US$6.90 million) from seven firms under the group. GS Group chairman Huh Chang-soo also received a total of 7.77 billion won (US$6.85 million) from GS and GS Engineering & Construction.
SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won earned a total of 6 billion won (US$5.30 million), 3 billion won (US$2.65 million) each from SK Corp. and SK Hynix, while SK Networks chairman Choi Shin-won reported 5.25 billion won (US$4.63 million) in wages. Doosan Group chairman Park Jung-won received 4.90 billion won (US$4.32 million) from Doosan Corp., while Doosan Infracore chairman Park Yong-man, who also serves as chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reported a total of 4.30 billion won (US$3.79 million) in wages. Hyosung Group chairman Cho Hyun-joon earned 4.10 billion won (US$3.62 million).
Orion Group chairman Dam Chul-gon and Amorepacific Group chairman Suh Kyung-bae received 3.42 billion won (US$3.02 million) and 3 billion won (US$2.65 million), respectively, from their affiliates.
LG Group chairman Koo Kwang-mo, who took the leadership last year, was paid 1.27 billion won (US$1.12 million) by LG Corp., the group's holding company.
CJ Group chairman Sohn Kyung-shik became the highest-paid professional manager by getting 8.87 billion won (US$7.83 million) from CJ CheilJedang. Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, who topped the list for three years in a row from 2016, came second with 7.03 billion won (US$6.20 million). Samsung Electronics vice chairman Kim Ki-nam reported 4.54 billion won (US$4 million) in wages. In the bio industry, Samsung Biologics CEO Kim Tae-han earned 3.80 billion won (US$3.35 million). He received more than 2.80 billion won (US$2.47 million) of incentives thanks to the growth of the company.