Once a billionaire factory, South Korea’s beauty industry turns ugly

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) – Three years ago, Suh Kyung-bae was the second-richest person in South Korea. Today he’s barely Top 10, a stark reversal in a K-beauty boom known for minting billionaires, not breaking them.

Mr Suh’s US$3.6 billion fortune (S$4.78 billion) – down from roughly US$8 billion in 2017 – is largely comprised of shares in his family’s cosmetics conglomerate, Amorepacific Group, which have fallen more than 40 per cent from a mid-January high. The parent of brands like Innisfree, Laniege and Sulwhasoo, Amorepacific was struggling even before Covid-19, and the pandemic has ushered in a slew of lifestyle changes that have made cosmetics less central to women’s daily routines.

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