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Founder of South Korea’s Gaming Giant Nexon Dies at 54

Nexon became one of the biggest game developers and publishers, with hit online games such as MapleStory. Photo: Screenshot.


The billionaire founder of gaming giant Nexon has died at the age of 54, parent firm NXC Corporation said on Tuesday.

Kim Jung-ju founded Tokyo-listed Nexon in 1994 and became one of the biggest game developers and publishers, with hit online games such as MapleStory and KartRider.

“Kim Jung-ju, the director of NXC and founder of Nexon, passed away in the US late last month,” the company said in a statement.

Nexon said Kim had been receiving treatment for depression and that his condition “seemed to have worsened recently”.

The statement did not elaborate on the cause of death.

A proposed sale of Nexon collapsed in 2019 after Kim could not find a buyer.

Three domestic bidders — gaming companies Kakao, Netmarble and private equity firm MBK Partners — reportedly vied for control of Nexon, which was valued at up to $15 billion.

Nexon’s Dungeon Fighter Online has been one of the most popular games in China since its release in 2005.

Kim put up Nexon for sale after allegations against him of corruption. In 2016, he was indicted for alleged bribery and illegal  stock transactions.

Authorities said at the time that a senior prosecutor, Jin Kyung-joon, allegedly received about 920 million won ($821,000) in kickbacks from Kim between 2005 and 2014.


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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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