SEOUL-- Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee's ranking among the world's superrich rose to 37th place as of late last week, thanks to the surge in the stock value at the conglomerate's electronic arm, a U.S.-based financial news source said Sunday.

According to Bloomberg, Lee, who has been hospitalized since May 2014 after he suffered a heart attack, is valued to be worth US$22.2 billion. The total represents an increase of $8 billion this year alone.

His ranking, which stood at 86th place among billionaires in early 2016, has been rising steadily in 2017.

Lee, who inherited the country's largest family-run conglomerate or chaebol, upon the death of his father Lee Byung-chul in the late 1980s is the only South Korean national to be included on the list of the world's 100 wealthiest people.

The spike comes as the stock price of Samsung Electronics Co., the world's leading maker of smartphones and memory chips, has surged some 55 percent throughout 2017, thanks to the strong performance of semiconductors.

Samsung Electronics traded at 2.79 million won (US$2,537) per share Friday compared with 1.8 million won per share late last year.

Besides shares in the tech giant, Lee also holds stakes in several Samsung group affiliates like Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung C and T Corp., as well as cash and property.

Among the 100 wealthiest people in the Asia-Pacific region, eight were from South Korea, with their assets all climbing more than 10 percent in value this year, the latest findings showed.

The eight include AmorePacific CEO Suh Kyung-bae and the Samsung chairman's only son, Lee Jae-yong, who ranked 52nd and 53rd, respectively.

Source: Yonhap News Agency