South Korean billionaire ordered to pay $1bn to wife in divorce settlement


South Korean mogul Chey Tae-won has been instructed to pay his former spouse, Roh So-young, a staggering 1.38 trillion won ($1bn; £788m) in cash, marking South Korea‘s largest divorce settlement to date.

The decision comes nearly ten years after Chey’s marriage dissolved when it was revealed he had fathered a child with another woman.

The Seoul High Court’s ruling entitles Roh to a portion of Chey’s company shares, after being married to him for 35 years. Chey’s legal team, representing the influential SK Group conglomerate chairman, announced plans to appeal, arguing that the court accepted Roh’s claims without considering their merits.

The awarded sum is significantly higher than the 66.5 billion won settlement proposed by a lower court in 2022, which also dismissed Roh’s request for a share of Chey’s SK shares.

This was overturned on Thursday, when the High Court found that the shares should be considered joint property.

In its verdict, the court stated that “it was reasonable to rule that, as his wife, Roh played a role in increasing the value of SK Group and Chey’s business activity”.

The court put Mr Chey’s wealth at around 4tn won, meaning Ms Roh – with whom Mr Chey had three children – would take an estimated 35%.

It also found that Ms Roh had helped ease regulatory hurdles for Mr Chey’s business and that her father – former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo – had “played the role of a protective shield” for SK’s ex-chairman Chey Jong-hyon.

The court said Mr Chey had not shown “any signs of remorse for his foul behaviour in the course of the trial… nor respect for monogamy” and said the new settlement took into account Ms Roh’s suffering over her ex-husband’s extramarital affair.

Chey’s legal team contended that his former spouse’s political ties did not benefit his business; in fact, they asserted they had been a hindrance.

Following the verdict, shares in SK Inc, a major semiconductor manufacturer with holdings in telecommunications, chemicals, and energy, surged by 9%.


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