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Korean billionaire Kim Jung-Ju, founder of online gaming pioneer Nexon, dies at 54

Korean billionaire Kim Jung-Ju, founder of online gaming pioneer Nexon, dies at 54

Kim Jung-ju, founder of online gaming giant Nexon, died in February, the company said in a statement. declaration Tuesday. He was 54 years old.

“Please excuse us for not being able to explain to you in detail because all of her family members are devastated,” Kim’s personal holding company, NXC, said. Recount South Korean Yonhap News Agency. “The deceased was receiving treatment for depression, and we are saddened that it appears to have worsened recently.”

Kim, who also went by the name Jay, is survived by his wife, Yoo Jung-hyun, and their two teenage daughters, Kim Jung-min and Kim Jung-youn. He debuted on the Korea Rich List in 2007 at No. 28 with a net worth of $590 million and joined the ranks of billionaires in 2011. In the country’s latest ranking, released in June last year Kim was No. 3 on the list, right after pharmaceutical mogul Seo Jung-jin and Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee, with a net worth of $10.9 billion.

“It is difficult to express the tragedy of losing our friend and mentor Jay Kim, a man who has had an immeasurably positive impact on the world,” Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney said in the statement. “As a founder and visionary leader, Jay encouraged those around him to ignore skeptics and trust their creative instincts. He will be deeply missed by his Nexon family and many friends.

Kim founded Nexon in 1994 and grew it into one of Asia’s leading video game companies. Nexon developed the first MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), The Kingdom of the Windsin 1996. One of his most famous games is maple storylaunched in 2003, which has over 180 million registered users worldwide. maple story pioneered the free-to-play model where users play games for free but pay for virtual items and accessories.

Nexon moved its headquarters from South Korea to Japan in 2005. It listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2011 in a $1.2 billion initial public offering, the largest in the world. year in Japan. Nexon said it was listed in Tokyo rather than Seoul because it is a larger and more sophisticated market with better access to international investors. The listing more than doubled Kim’s wealth in one year, from $2.06 billion to $4.3 billion, catapulting him to third place on the Korea Rich List in 2012, from ninth place l ‘last year. Nexon has a market capitalization of $20 billion as of Tuesday’s market close.

While Nexon is headquartered in Tokyo, NXC, Kim’s personal holding company, is based in Jeju, a resort island off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula. Famous for his media shyness, Kim retired from day-to-day management in 2006.

In 2016, Kim was found not guilty of corruption charges after being charged with giving money to a prosecutor, Jin Kyung-joon, who was a close friend he had met at the National University of Seoul, in exchange for favors. Although Kim admitted to giving money to Jin, he was acquitted due to lack of evidence that favors were granted. Kim issued a public apology after the indictment and resigned from Nexon’s board of directors, although he remained chairman of NXC.

Since then, Kim has focused on philanthropy. He founded C Program, a venture philanthropy fund, in 2017 with fellow Korean internet entrepreneurs Kim Beom-su (Kakao), Kim Taek-jin (NCSoft), Lee Hae-jin (Naver), and Lee Jae-woong. (Daum, which merged with Kakao in 2014). Kim was good friends with Lee Hae-jin; both went to Seoul National University and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

Then in 2018, Kim pledged to donate $93 million of her fortune to fund startups and children’s hospitals. He also swore that his children would not inherit his stake in the business. Kim’s personal donations to children’s hospitals were in addition to Nexon’s donations. From 2013 to 2015, the company donated 20 billion won (about $16.6 million) to build the Purme Foundation Nexon Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Seoul, which Nexon says is the first children’s rehabilitation hospital in Korea. The 10-story, 18,580 square meter hospital opened in 2016.

In January 2019, Kim requested the sale of all his shares in NXC, Nexon’s largest shareholder, with a nearly 50% stake. NXC also holds stakes in cryptocurrency companies, including Korbit, South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange. Kim abandoned plans to sell its shares in July of the same year due to disagreements over the price.

In recent years, Kim has continued to support children’s hospitals. He has donated 3.8 billion won to the Daejeon Chung-nam Children’s Public Rehabilitation Hospital since 2019 and 2.5 billion won last year to establish the Nexon Children’s Palliative Care Center at the hospital. Seoul National University, which is expected to open this year.

“Since its founding, Nexon has been able to grow thanks to the great love and interest it has received from children and teenagers,” Kim said. Forbes Asia by email in November. “For the past 10 years, I have been looking for ways to help with the rehabilitation and treatment of disabled children in Korea, while constantly thinking about how to repay them.”

For his efforts, Kim was named as one of Forbes Asia‘s 15 Heroes of Philanthropy last year.