chae·​bol | \ ˈchā-ˌbōl How to pronounce chaebol (audio) , ˈje-ˌbəl \
plural chaebol also chaebols

Definition of chaebol

: a family-controlled industrial conglomerate in South Korea

Examples of chaebol in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Joon-woo’s overly humble, cloying personality is a ruse to hide his true identity as a ruthless scheming chaebol. Joan Macdonald, Forbes, "For Ok Taec-Yeon Watching The Diverse Cast Of ‘Vincenzo’ Is A Joy," 21 Mar. 2021 And other chaebol chiefs have been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing — only to be let off with light sentences and allowed to return to running their businesses. Jake Kwon, CNN, "Samsung heir's prison sentence casts a shadow on South Korea's tech titan," 20 Jan. 2021 Many chaebol tycoons, including Lee Kun-hee, were convicted of white-collar crimes but then granted pardons as the Korean government and the public sought to prevent any economic fallout from their absence. Washington Post, "Builder of global tech giant Samsung, Lee Kun-hee, dies at 78," 25 Oct. 2020 South Korea’s corporate dynasties are such a major source of economic vitality that some South Koreans wonder whether the chaebol are holding their country hostage. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "Lee Kun-hee, Who Built Samsung Into a Global Giant, Dies at 78," 24 Oct. 2020 In South Korea, establishing chaebols was viewed as a way to fast-track the country’s economic development. Washington Post, "South Korea’s Chaebol," 30 Aug. 2019 Charismatic chaebol tycoons like Mr. Shin were credited with engineering the dramatic industrialization that transformed the country into one of Asia’s leading economies after the destruction of the Korean War in the 1950s. Choe Sang-hun,, "‘Chewing Gum Tycoon’ of Lotte Group, Shin Kyuk-ho, Dies at 98," 21 Jan. 2020 The chaebol eventually pushed through a merger between two Samsung companies that cemented family control, despite the opposition of American activist hedge fund Elliott Management. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "The Stock Market Where Family Succession Still Matters," 24 Jan. 2020 Stiff regulation and rigid chaebol supply chains are cages that stifle unicorns. Shuli Ren | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "How Can the Land of K-Pop Fail to Innovate?," 6 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chaebol.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chaebol

1972, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chaebol

Korean chaebŏl, from chae wealth, property + pŏl faction, clan

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Time Traveler for chaebol

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The first known use of chaebol was in 1972

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Statistics for chaebol

Last Updated

29 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chaebol.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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