Shown above are former LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo, L, and current LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo. The latter’s adoptive mother and two sisters recently lodged litigation for his inheritance from the former. Photo courtesy of LG Group

South Korean conglomerate meets first family feuds

South Korea’s LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo faced an inheritance litigation Friday from his adoptive mother and two sisters. It is the fourth-largest conglomerate in the country.

Chairman Koo received around 75 percent of some $1.5 billion assets of former LG head Koo Bon-moo, who passed away in 2019, to succeed the leadership of LG.

The late Koo’s widow and their two daughters, who initially got the remaining 25 percent, claimed that Chairman Koo did not qualify for the inheritance because he’s an adopted son.

Originally, Chairman Koo was a nephew of the late Koo. After the latter lost his only son in 1994, he adopted the former in 2004 in line with the Confucian tradition of making the first son take over the family business.

LG Group blasted the plaintiffs as this is the first dispute about inheritance since the group’s foundation in 1947, unlike its bigger rivals, including Samsung and Hyundai. The 45-year-old Chairman Koo is its fourth-generation tycoon.

“Chairman Koo and the three plaintiffs had discussions several times during five months after the former chairman’s death to reach a legal conclusion,” LG said.

“It is difficult to understand why they take issue with the procedures in four years after the former chairman’s death, even beyond the limit of the three-year exclusion period.”

But there are controversies on whether the exclusion period has expired.

K1 Chamber, a law firm representing the three plaintiffs, was not available for comments.

This is not the first time for women survivors to ask for more inheritance among the country’s conglomerates.

In 2020, for example, Hankook Technology Group Chairman Cho Yang-rae handed over his 23.59 percent stake in the group to his second son Cho Hyun-bum, who now leads the No. 1 tire maker in Korea.

Then, the recipient’s elder sister challenged the measure, filing a petition with a Seoul family court to start a limited guardianship with Chairman Cho. It is for adults who are difficult to make decisions on their own due to age, disability, or illness.

Eventually, the court did not accept the petition citing a lack of evidence.