SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won/Courtesy of SK Group

1. Wealth: $2.8 billion (Forbes, 2019)

2. Date of birth: December 3, 1960

Chey Tae-won is a nephew of SK Group founder Choi Jong-kun. He joined SK in 1991 and just seven years later took the realm of the group, South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate.

3. Company & title: SK Group/Chairman

Lee is the boss of SK Group of which major affiliates are SK hynix, the world’s second-largest memory chip producer, and SK Innovations, the country’s top oil refiner.

After taking charge of SK in 1998, he spearheaded the acquisition of SK hynix in 2011. Back then, most of SK executives were against the M&A but Chey forged ahead with the deal.

And the decision is touted as one of the biggest achievements of Chey.

Over the past few years, SK hynix has generated great revenues in line with the rising global demand for semiconductors.

4. Educational backgrounds: University of Chicago, Korea University

Chey studied in Korea and the United States.

5. Marital status: Married (wife: Roh So-young, founder of Art Center Nabi)

Chey got married to Roh So-young, the daughter of former Korean President Roh Tae-woo, in 1988 to have three children.

In a letter written to a Korean media in 2015, Chey first showed his will to divorce Roh, revealing they spent several years apart. At the time, Chey disclosed that he has a live-in girlfriend and an illegitimate child.

His move generated controversies since he disclosed the facts on the year when the country’s Constitutional Court overturned a law that made adultery a crime. Otherwise, he might have served his third jail-time.

In 2017, Chey sought a divorce settlement, but the court turned it down as Roh refused to do so. Two years later, Roh filed for divorce, requesting Chey’s stake in SK worth around $1.2 billion.

6. Relatives:

SK Group founder Choi Jong-kun: Uncle

SK Networks Chairman Choi Shin-won: Cousin

Former President Roh Tae-won: Father-in-law

7. Criminal records: Twice

Time served in prison: 38 months

First: 7 months (February 22, 2003 ~ September 22, 2003)

Second: 31 months (January 31, 2013 ~ August 14, 2015)

Chey was given a three-year jail term in 2003 because of his role in a $1.3 billion accounting fraud. A decade later, he was found guilty again of embezzling about $40 million from SK units so as to cover up his trading losses.

In both cases, he got full presidential pardons.

8. Related articles:

Desk column: Unexpected birthday present for SK chief?

Desk column: Risky bet of SK chief


The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.