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Jung-Ju “JJ” Kim, the founder of online game publisher Nexon, passed away at age 54. Nexon announced that he passed away in Hawaii on February 28.
Nexon did not provide a cause of death, but it noted that he had been undergoing treatment for depression and the symptoms had gotten worse of late, according to the Korea Herald.
Min Kim, a former Nexon leader who helped bring Nexon to the U.S., said in a social post that “JJ” had a unique personality. Though Nexon made him wealthy, Jung-Ju handled routine tasks like paining his small apartment in New York City, Kim said.
Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney offered his condolences.
“It is difficult to express the tragedy of losing our friend and mentor Jay Kim, a man who had an immeasurably positive impact on the world,” said Mahoney, in a statement. “As a founder and visionary leader, Jay encouraged those around him to ignore the skeptics and trust their creative instincts. He will be deeply missed by his Nexon family and many friends.”
Kim founded Nexon in 1994, and launched the world’s first multiplayer online role-playing game, The Kingdom of the Winds. The company later launched huge hits including MapleStory, KartRider, Mabinogi, and Dungeon & Fighter. Kim became a billionaire after Nexon went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2011. That year, the company generated more than $830 million in sales. Nexon now has 45 games.
Kim left the company some years ago. Kim remained a large shareholder as CEO of NXC, which owns 47% of Nexon. Kim stepped down from the NXC role in 2021. Alex Iosilevich is chief investment officer of NXC and J.K. Lee is CEO of NXC.