Definition of chaebol in US English:



  • (in South Korea) a large family-owned business conglomerate.

    • ‘In April, the government began letting nonbank financial arms of the chaebol vote their shares held in affiliate companies.’
    • ‘One of his first acts as CEO was to change the name to Hynix, distancing the company from the Korean chaebol.’
    • ‘This type of loan, now illegal in South Korea, was once routine for the country's conglomerates or chaebols.’
    • ‘Thus climaxed a family boardroom drama that has rocked Hyundai, the largest chaebol, and Korean business.’
    • ‘Could this hatmaker-turned-bus-manufacturer be teaching Korea's mighty chaebol a lesson?’
    • ‘He's a 25-year veteran of Samsung Corp., the trading arm of South Korea's largest chaebol.’
    • ‘Daewoo is the second-largest conglomerate, or chaebol, in South Korea.’
    • ‘Roh will also challenge the chaebol, the Korean conglomerates that have dominated Korean economic life and dictated much of its politics as well.’
    • ‘The transformation is still a work in progress, but if these pioneers can show the way for their peers, Korea's midsize companies may soon rival the chaebol as the country's economic engine.’
    • ‘What's more, he has the backing of the chaebol, the giant conglomerates that clashed so often with Kim and his Cabinet ministers.’
    • ‘Agnew noted that significant corporate reform was taking place in Seoul, despite claims that taking on the much-vaunted chaebol, or conglomerates, would be impossible.’
    • ‘Not unlike the pre-war Japanese zaibatsu, virtually all chaebol are family-owned and controlled.’
    • ‘As the administration pressed for the dismantling of the corporate conglomerates or chaebol, thousands of workers were thrown out of work and into poverty, as South Korea has little in the way of a welfare system.’
    • ‘The agreement came at a meeting of five business organizations, including the Federation of Korean Industries, which represents the interests of the giant conglomerates known as chaebols.’
    • ‘Instead, the Grand National Party has been engaging in opportunistic grandstanding to weaken Seoul's current policy for restructuring of the chaebols (family-owned corporate groups).’
    • ‘South Korea's major business conglomerates, known as the chaebols, were encouraged to globalize their operations into Asia, Europe, and North America.’
    • ‘Nokia was originally the Finnish equivalent of a Korean chaebol, a conglomerate that manufactured all sorts of things, from paper to rubber to chemicals to TV sets.’
    • ‘It's like Korea in the old days, when the chaebol laid siege to one global industry after another.’
    • ‘Prosecutors say Kim covered up the diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from the chaebol's shipbuilding and trading companies to bankroll the car company.’
    • ‘The program was created to allow the chaebols, the enormous conglomerates that loom over the Korean economy and colour every deal, like Samsung, Daewoo and LG, to bring in employees from overseas branches to receive training.’


Korean, from chae ‘money’ + bol ‘faction, clique’, on the model of Japanese zaibatsu (see zaibatsu).