At 92, the man who built South Korea's biggest retail empire is finally making his mark in the Seoul skyline as the country's tallest tower takes shape - just as public faith in corporate giants crumbles into safety fears and mistrust.
Shin Kyuk-ho first envisioned a landmark for Lotte Group 28 years ago, when family-run conglomerates, or 'chaebol', like his led the rise of South Korea's economy. Now the plan to build the world's sixth-tallest skyscraper by 2016 is marred by teething troubles at a newly opened mall and leisure complex at its foot: Visitor numbers have nearly halved, forcing Lotte to cut rents.
It makes no difference that Shin is one of South Korea's most successful businessmen and that Lotte has no record of major safety blemishes. After a ferry sinking last year that killed 304 people, South Koreans were shocked into a mood of zero tolerance for safety lapses, and the scale of the 3.7 trillion won ($3.3 billion) Lotte World Tower project is matched by the level of public scrutiny.
Korea's safety obsession comes as many also become less forgiving of the still-dominant chaebol, sensing a high-handed approach towards customers and investors. In a case that spurred resentment, the daughter of Korean Air Lines' chairman gained widespread scorn - as well as a jail sentence - over a "nut rage" incident, after demanding a taxi-ing jet return to its gate over the way she was served nuts.