How gaming mogul went from oblivion to notoriety

Kim Jung-ju seemed to have it all.

The 48-year-old tech tycoon was born with a silver spoon, with his father a lawyer and his mother having majored in piano at the nation's top university, Seoul National University -- coincidentally Kim's alma mater too.

In the '80s, when personal computers were still a rarity, Kim had the luxury of owning one. While tinkering on it, he decided to become a sort of engineer.

At the same time, he was also an accomplished violinist, according to those close to him. In grad school, he won a violin competition, and is also known to have taken several professional-level music classes in college. In short, he was a cultured nerd.

Kim eventually graduated from SNU, then went on to KAIST graduate school.

It was in 1994, when Kim was barely 30 years old, that he created the online gaming company Nexon.

His first big break came two years later in 1996 with the hit role-playing game, "The Kingdom of the Wind."

It remains hugely popular to this day, with the accumulated number of subscribers reaching 23 million -- South Korea has a population of 50 million.

Other games such as "Maple Story" and "Kart Rider" would later go onto become best-selling hits for Nexon.

But the man behind this success for the most part has kept to himself.

Kim stayed out of the limelight, right until the latest scandal involving prosecutor Jin Kyung-joon erupted.

One reason he could avoid attention was because Nexon was listed in Japan. Nexon Japan shares were listed on Tokyo's main bourse in 2011, and its market capitalisation at the time stood at 8 trillion won ($7.04 billion).

In 2005, Nexon was split into Nexon Holdings -- the precursor to the current holding company NXC headed by Kim -- and Nexon. The entirety of the Nexon's Korean office was sold to Nexon Japan.

NXC, the holding company, is wholly owned by Kim, and it holds a controlling stake in Nexon Japan, which in turn controls Nexon Korea.

As of June this year, his net worth reached $1.8 billion, according to Forbes. He was the sixth richest Korean on Forbes' list.

However, Kim has been in the media spotlight recently, since July 17 when he was summoned by the prosecution for questioning.

His friend Jin has already been arrested for his ties with Kim.

- Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)

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