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Kim Beom-su became one of the few self-made billionaires in Korea thanks to the love of video games and online communication. Kim created two companies from scratch: the first online games portal in South Korea (Hangame Communications) and the local messaging application KakaoTalk.
Kim was born in a low-income environment, in a family of eight with parents who didn't finish elementary school. Kim was the first member of his family to go to university. Kim paid for his education with private tutoring classes.
Kim Beom-su's first job was to develop an online communication service for Samsung. He left the company five years later to open an Internet café and develop online casino games. Its page attracted heavy traffic, and it merged with Naver, to become the leading web portal of Korea: NHN.
Kim Beom-su quit NHN's safety to start a new venture. In 2007 Kim moved to Silicon Valley. When he was looking for new ideas, he was amazed by the iPhone. With a team of four people, he started developing applications for the iPhone before it arrived in Korea.
In 2010, Kim introduced Kakao, the instant messaging application that is now used by three-quarters of the population in Korea. In 2014, the company merged with Daum Communications, the main competitor of NHN.
Expanding to other markets has been difficult for the company. To internationalize its market, Kakao acquired Path, an American company that was succeeding in Asia.
Kim Beom-su has become a popular speaker in Korea as he is one of the few billionaires who did not inherit his fortune. Kim Beom-su has a personal goal to help the development of 100 technological startups.
Kim Beom-su sees Korea's rigid education system as a barrier to the development of the creative industries. He has preferred to send his children to study abroad because he is convinced that the next generations should think outside the box and not under pre-established schemes.
Sophie Kim is a Korean entrepreneur and former Goldman Sachs analyst. She is CEO and founder of Market Kurly.
Koo Kwang-mo is a Korean businessman, Chief Executive of LG Group.
Han Seong-sook is the CEO of Naver, Korea’s top Internet portal and search company since 2017.