TOP 200 COLLECTORS: KIM WOONG-GI, Seoul, Apparel manufacturing (Global Sae-A Group)



Seoul-based Kim Woong-gi is the chairman of Global Sae-A Group, a conglomerate that includes the world’s largest apparel export company, a fabric mill in Indonesia, a yarn mill in Costa Rica, a fashion brand, a construction company, a food and beverage company, and a firm that specializes in manufacturing corrugated cardboard and paper packaging. Through these companies, Kim stresses technological innovation in their perspective industries, with an emphasis on maintaining the highest levels of environmental standards and corporate social responsibility.

Founded in 1986, Global Sae-A Group operates in over 10 countries, primarily in Asia and Central America and the Caribbean, producing an estimated 2.6 million articles of clothing a day and having an estimated $3.5 billion in annual turnover. In 2012, the company signed an agreement with the Haitian government to open a production facility in the country to help aid in its recovery after the devasting 2010 earthquake.

“Over the years, as I have traveled to our facilities, I have seen our investments help the local economies grow,” Kim says in a statement on the company’s website. “From new markets to transportation systems, we have seen communities make great progress, and are honored to be a part of them. But economic investment is just one part of our efforts.”

On the collecting front, not too much is known about Kim’s holdings, though it’s widely reported in Korean publications that is company has recently opened an exhibition space called S2A in Seoul’s Gangnam District. It will likely be a major stop on any visit to the country, especially with the inaugural edition of Frieze Seoul having occurred in 2022, along with the Leeum Museum of Art, which was founded by late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee and his wife Hong Ra-hee (both of whom were previously listed on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list).

News of S2A came when Kim revealed himself in 2022 as the winning bidder for a major blue abstract painting, titled Universe 5-IV-71 #200 (1971), by the groundbreaking Korean artist Kim Whanki. The work had been purchased at a 2019 sale at Christie’s Hong Kong for a staggering $10 million (or 13.2 billion won), making it the most expensive work by a Korean artist to ever sell at auction. Kim also owns major works of Korean modern and contemporary art, as well as pieces by Yayoi Kusama.

October 6, 2022