Koreans Put Wealth Threshold at W6.7 Billion

  • By Choi Hyung-seok

    October 03, 2019 08:27

    The number of billionaires in Korea stood at 323,000 as of the end of 2018, up 4.4 percent from a year ago, according to a survey by KB Kookmin Bank (US$1=W1,206).

    The number of rich people is rising steadily from 237,000 in 2014, but the rate of growth in 2018 was the slowest in five years. Experts attribute the slowdown to the sluggish economy and declining stock markets, which limited asset growth.

    The bank also interviewed 400 of them, who on average put the threshold to serious wealth at W6.7 billion in assets. Their actual annual income was W202 million on average, four time higher than the median yearly household income of W57 million.

    Only 46 percent of the respondents considered themselves rich, and 70 percent lived in the Seoul metropolitan area, mostly in the affluent Gangnam and Seocho districts of southern Seoul. Wealthy people were also concentrated in Busan (24,000), Daegu (15,000) and South Gyeongsang Province (10,000).

    Respondents said 47 percent of their wealth comes from their businesses, and 22 percent from real estate. Out of their annual earnings, 63 percent comes from their work and only 33 percent from real estate and financial investments.

    They put the minimum capital needed for investments to boost their wealth at W500 million, and it took them an average of 12 years to save that up. Sixty percent of the respondents were in their 40s and had more than W500 million worth of assets.

    They still felt it is more profitable in the long term to own real estate rather than financial assets, and amid the present economic uncertainties many are keeping their wallets shut.

    When it comes to long-term investment targets of more than three years, 62 percent preferred real estate and 35 percent financial assets. An overwhelming majority simply hoped to maintain their wealth at the current level this year rather than increasing it. As for non-real-estate investments, fewer than 10 percent said they will invest more, compared to 20 to 30 percent last year.

    Instead, more than half were turning to overseas real estate, with 57 percent opting for Vietnam, 32 percent Singapore, 31 percent China and 26 percent Malaysia. Only 20 percent chose Europe and 14 percent the U.S.

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