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South Koreans’ Ambivalent Attitude Towards Wealthy People

South Koreans’ Ambivalent Attitude Towards Wealthy People

Posted September. 19, 2007 08:02,   


“Let’s become rich!”

An academic association with an unusual name celebrated its organization on Sunday at Lotte Hotel in downtown Seoul. It was the “Association for Study of How to Become Rich.” The ceremony attracted about 100 business leaders and scholars, such as Lotte Shopping CEO Lee Cheol-woo and Seoul Nat’l University Business School Dean, Gwak Soo-geun. The association stands out in that it studies how to become rich and how to live rich. No overseas organization of a similar nature has yet been reported. Seoul Women’s University business administration professor Han Dong-cheol, who heads the association, introduced the association, saying, “We will relieve the anti-wealth sentiment and show how to command public respect as rich person.

Rich and Respected Millionaire Model to Be Set Forth –

Professor Han has taught Introduction to Wealth since 2004 at Seoul Women’s University. Han became attracted to the topic, watching his high school buddy and BC Card Customer Relations Director, Lee Moon-jae, win public attention with his company advertisement, entitled “Wishing you all the fortune!”

Han has written various books on wealth and its creation. He explains the association’s main purpose as for establishment of a model on how to become rich and respected. He plans to create an international body under the same name.

The association will engage in a variety of activities including debate and publication on wealth and meetings with rich people.

Burgeoning Number of South Korean Millionaires with More than $1 Million Financial Assets –

The Seoul Women’s University Wealth Research Center conducted a survey of 111 ordinary adults, of which 110 respondents answered yes, when asked whether they want to become rich. One-hundred and seven wished their children would become wealthy, too.

It is safe to say that almost everyone wishes to make a fortune. Then, what is the decisive criterion for defining wealthy people? According to the World Wealth Report published each year by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, an individual has to have at least $1 million in financial assets to belong to the category.

Based on this criterion, South Korea has 99,000 millionaires as of last year.

The service sector including banks and retailers has been marketing intensively to attract top-notch millionaires. Lotte Shopping CEO Lee explains, “The top 2% of our customers contribute more than 20% to our total sales.” In other words, a “handful” of rich people constitute the force driving the economy forward.

Then, is money the only criterion that distinguishes the rich from the ordinary? Opinions differ on this matter.

Samsung Private Banking director Jeong Bok-gi argues, “What the association should do first is to set forth the criteria that define the rich. The concept of being rich varies from age to age and culture to culture. That’s why we need a definite answer to the question.”

On the other hand, only 33% of the respondents to the survey said that they admire wealthy people, while 40% said no, indicating the ambivalence people show toward the rich.

Professor Han explained, “Korean TV shows depict the rich as the crooked. Moreover, South Koreans do not like people around them to get better than them.” “We will straighten out the distorted image. That is why we’ve got together,” promised Han.