This month’s Korea’s 50 Richest list is historic. For the first time since its launch in 2005, the No. 1 spot is held by an entrepreneur with a self-made fortune: Seo Jung-jin, cofounder of pharmaceutical firm Celltrion. Joining him in the top ten are four others who built their wealth within one lifetime from relatively nothing. In contrast, many others on the list, though they may have added significant value to their companies, started with the advantage of inherited wealth.
Malaysia is a variation of that theme. While the top ten richest have long been a mix of self-made and inherited wealth, this elite group doesn’t change much—Robert Kuok was No. 1 in the first list of 2006 and today. Ananda Krishnan was No. 2 and now No. 4 (both self-made tycoons). Thus it’s refreshing to see the ranking of Koon Poh Keong and his siblingsat No. 3 with a fortune of $6.4 billion, who only joined the list in 2017, at No. 13 with $1.05 billion. They built their Press Metal into a major aluminum producer with just $50,000 in seed capital from 1986.
On the cover is another self-made tycoon: William Li, dubbed the Elon Musk of China, who is succeeding with his Nio EVs. He is one of many self-made entrepreneurs in China. That country’s race to the top is shown in the Global 2000 rankings. While U.S. companies on the list have hovered around 600 for about a decade, Chinese companies have been catching up, with a record 350 on the list—with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China holding the No. 1 spot for nine years.
I am the editor and executive director-content for Forbes Asia, the latest in various Forbes roles in Asia, including postings in Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore. Among
I am the editor and executive director-content for Forbes Asia, the latest in various Forbes roles in Asia, including postings in Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore. Among my projects at Forbes have been starting and running Forbes Indonesia, starting and running the Asia Rich Lists, and launching the Singapore bureau to cover Asia for Forbes. I’ve covered stories across the region, from Bangladesh to New Zealand, as well as having been an advisor to local Forbes editions in India, China, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea and Thailand.