The super-rich's pursuit of sports often goes beyond the role of spectator or a participant. They show their affection on a scale befitting their assets.
Heesung Group chairman Koo Bon-neung is well known as a passionate baseball fan. Koo, who is currently the president of the Korea Baseball Organisation, has published a photobook featuring his lifetime collection of baseball photos. He himself played the game as an outfielder when he attended junior high.
Chung Mong-joon, the largest shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries, is the undisputed leading football fan in the corporate world. The candidate for the Seoul mayoral position in the upcoming local elections founded several professional football teams, and he reportedly carries football cleats on every business trip.
The superrich laugh and cry with their favourite players, with some making a public display of affection. Baseball and football, two of the most popular sports in Korea, have well-known superrich fans. The head of LG Group takes the lead as the biggest baseball enthusiast, while Hyundai bigwigs are known aficianados of football, with Chung Mong-joon and Chung Mong-gyu, chairman of Hyundai Development Company.
The superrich's love affair with sports does not stop at just the major games. Superrich fans of lesser known sports include: Halla Group chairman Chung Mong-won, an ice hockey enthusiast and LS Group chairman Koo Ja-yeol, who cycled around the peaks of the Alps. SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won, also endorses handball, the subject of the popular movie "Forever the Moment," and Chung Eui-sun, vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, is a supporter of archery.
Baseball grabs heart of rich
At the recent "Professional Baseball Media Day" held at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Koo Bon-neung, chairman of Heesung Group and also the 19th president of the Korea Baseball Organisation, gave LG Twins manager Kim Ki-tae a grin and a thumbs-up. He was giving Kim's signature thumbs-up, which any true Twins fan would be able to recognise.