To the center of the world with Chunma's spirit. "The frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean."
Greetings on the 60th anniversary of the foundation of Yeungnam University (YU).
YNO, together with Yeungdae Shinmun and the University Broadcasting System (UBS) met YU's alumni who are enhancing the reputation of YU in England.
Business Management '65
Bernard Suh is the managing director of London-based Korea Foods Co. Ltd. He has also been running the 'Kaya' Korean restaurant. The restaurant is immensely proud of its reputation as 'the' authentic and traditional Korean restaurant in London, as well as its excellent food and service.
Established in 1999, Korea Foods Co. has grown to become the leading importer of Korean food in the U.K. The company offers the widest range of Korean products in the country and also carries an extensive range of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai products.
July 1999: Founded Korea Foods Co. Ltd in a 600sqft-unit in Weir Road.
June 2003: 'Seoul Plaza 1' opened in New Malden High Street
March 2003: Korea Foods expanded and relocated to Wyvern lndustrial Estate.
July 2004: 'Seoul Plaza 2' opened in Malden Rd, New Malden.
Dec. 2004 Korea Foods promoted foods from the province of Chungcheongbuk-do at the 2004-Korean Food Fair.
March 2005: Participated in the 2005-International Food Exhibition.
March 2005: Entered an exclusive agreement with a leading agricultural supplier from Chungcheongbuk-do.
May 2005: Opened 'Seoul Plaza 3' in Mill Rd, Cambridge.
Sept. 2005: The main shop relocated to larger premises on Wyvern Industrial Estate.
Sept. 2005: Korea Foods sponsored the 2005-Retail Industry Award and served as one of its judges.
July 2006: Opened Korea Foods in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Dec. 2006: 'Seoul Plaza 4' opened in London's Golders Green Road.
Hello Mr. Suh. I've heard that you have been running Korea Foods Co. Ltd and have made a coup in the distribution industry. I'm sure, however, that there were some difficulties before the success. What difficulties have you had since you founded your company?
There have been two areas in which I've had problems. One difficult area has been human resources. When I employed talented Koreans they sometimes experienced emotional problems because the way of thinking in England was very different from that of Korea. Conversely, if I employed English people, the work-style of our company didn't suit them. In our company we work hard for long hours and some English people didn't like that. They wanted to stop working at closing time even though they hadn't completed their assignments. They value privacy, family, and their free time above anything else. I have a propensity to employ English people who have experienced the Orient and oriental culture.
The other difficulty was related to our saying, "Trust makes way for treachery." There were cases when employees had grown and learnt many things through working at our company but who betrayed us by leaving for a similar job and leaking our company secrets. Even though those cases were rare, it still upsets me whenever I think about them.
I'd like to hear why you started this kind of work.
I wanted to spread Korean foods to Europe, that's why I founded the company. Our mission is to be ambassadors for our country's food. That's why I named the company 'Korean' Foods and not 'Oriental' Foods.
If you have a management philosophy, what is it?
I think that the most important thing in business is honesty. Honesty allows people to wrap themselves up in their work. For example, if a managing director has been evading taxes, he or she cannot commit fully to work because of anxiety.
I think that honesty is very important and I have striven to manage honestly.
Which foods do Europeans favor?
Europeans usually like Bulgogi and Bibimbab. Bulgogi is the food widely known as Korean barbecue and Bibimbab is steamed rice with beef and assorted vegetables. Bibimbab is an excellent dish in terms of its taste and its nutritional value because both taste and nutrition are improved through mixing the beef and vegetables together.
Many local universities like Yeungnam University have had difficulties recently in their development. What do you think needs to be done?
I think that large corporations have to support local universities so that the universities can employ eminent professors and grow better and better. As an example, unlike Korea, England has developed a culture of 'donation,' so it's usual for presidents of large corporations to donate to local universities.
Do you have any message to convey to your juniors at YU?
Daegu is more conservative than other cities in Korea. I think that the topographical peculiarity of being surrounded by mountains is one reason why. Because of this inclination toward conservatism, many Daegu-people don't go abroad. I hope that many more students do go abroad, see more of the world, and extend their knowledge.
What do you want to say about YU reaching its 60th anniversary?
We seldom have reason to be proud of Daegu so, from now on, I want YU to become the pride of Daegu. Furthermore, I also hope that the 60th anniversary of the foundation of YU will be a platform from which it will become a prominent university in the world in the future.
(If you want to know more about Korea Foods Co. Ltd, Please see http://www.koreafoods.co.uk)
English Language & Literature '65
Jong-Koo Lee is the managing director of Lees Fashion Accessories Ltd and the chairman
of the Overseas Korean Traders Association (OKTA) in the United Kingdom.
Lees Fashion Accessories Ltd
Lees Fashion Accessories Ltd is a major specialty supplier and importer of value-priced costume jewelry, accessories, and fashion scarves. It has over 600 customers in the UK and other European countries.
The company donates some of its proceeds to charitable work - it gave a donation of 3,000 British pounds towards schools for Koreans in London. It also takes part in the bi-annual Birmingham Show. It aims to maintain its leading position by constantly introducing newer and better products. Its ultimate goal is to be listed on the London Stock Exchange.
(If you want to know more about Lees Fashion Accessories Ltd, please see: http://www.lees-uk.com)
Overseas Korean Traders Association (OKTA)
OKTA was established on the 2nd of April 1981 as an international Korean trading organization centered on the US and Japan, to promote our country's trading industry and to enhance its prestige.
(If you want to know more about OKTA, please see: http://www.okta.or.kr)
'Don't change boats in mid-stream!' This attitude has enabled Jong-Koo Lee to get to where he is today.
"Although I was placed in difficult circumstances, I never gave up nor set my eyes toward other fields. As a result of pushing determinedly towards one single goal, Lees Fashion is now well-known to many people. I have also become a VIP-flyer on Korean Air because I have only ever used one airline. I've come to be presbyter of my church because I have only ever been to one church. I therefore think that pursuing your own goal without faltering in your determination is the best way to achieve it with the least risk."
Lee, however, experienced the vicissitudes of life before he got to where he is today. I listened carefully to his life story it was a success story.
"One day, I found a Korean Air poster, 'Korean Air Spreading to the World', in Dongdaegu Station. I took the company examination and went to Seoul. I ended up resigning because the service-job didn't suit my constitution and, as there was a boom in development and export at the time, I entered Daewoo Engineering & Construction (Daewoo E&C). While at Daewoo, I went abroad to the Middle East and Africa, and won construction contracts there. Although I worked hard, my rate of promotion was slower than other people's because I had graduated from a local university so I left the company after I got an offer from Han Yang Corporation.
On the 1st of July 1982, I came to England as a branch manager of the overseas-construction corporation. I worked hard, felt happy, and had a lot of fun. However, the corporation suddenly fell into a difficult situation and dropped its overseas business in favor of domestic construction so, I had to go to Seoul.
After one month, I left the corporation and went back to England because I thought living and working in England were better than staying in Korea. At that time, when I was concerned about making a living, my alumni gave me heart. They said, "England won't starve you to death, will it?" I determined to start trading and wanted to sell made-in-Korea goods in England. I got jewelry samples from my alumnus and took orders for as much as $4000. That was the start of Lees Fashion and I have been running the business for the past 20 years."
While telling his life story, he continually emphasized the importance of alumni.
Don't be a frog in a well!
"The Premier League is better than the Asian Cup"-"Don't be a frog in a well"-"Go to the world ; Leave Korea!" These were the messages which Jong-Koo Lee sent to his juniors at Yeungnem University (YU). He also added that Korean people can survive in the fierce competition of the world because they, like him, have strong will-power, so YU-students don't have to be afraid of going abroad. "Do your best with your present status and then push into foreign countries!"
Lee moves forward with a new project.
Lee and his employees have been preparing a new project a 'total-hair' shop. People will be able to buy hairpins as well as having a hair-perm. He is soon going to announce the new project and hopes that many people will invest in it. I hope that 'total-hair' shops become a bonanza for his company.
International Economics & Business '70
Suk-Ha Kwon is managing director of the Bora Travel Agency in New Malden England. He is also a Blue Badge Guide (British Government-certified guides, authorized to wear the 'blue badge.')
Hello Mr. Kwon. I know that you have lived in England for many years; working hard. What brought you here? Did you get inspiration from anything?
I came in contact with many Western civilizations. That's why I am here. In addition, I was of a 'rambling' disposition. The habit of wandering about was another reason why I came here. Actually, during my school days, I changed from one school to another many times.
How did you get to where you are today?
After graduating from Yeungnam University, I entered the Jindo Corporation in 1975. As Jindo was a trading corporation, I naturally went abroad. For starters, I came to the United Kingdom in 1982 as a director of the U.K.-office I was also the director of the Moscow-office at the same time.
In 1989, I left the company and started a business in Russia. The venture was a joint Korean-Russian factory project. Even though I didn't make much profit, it was a significant time for me. I think that my love of challenges was my biggest motivation in starting a business. After I had run the business for ten years, I returned to the U.K. and I have run the Bora Travel Agency ever since. In addition, I'm now operating private businesses in England and Moscow as well as running a restaurant called the 'Yoshisushi.'
What do you think is the most important thing to remember in business?
To be content with my present business would be to commit business-suicide. Therefore, I think that going the extra mile in my own business with sustained effort is the best way I can survive in this age of limitless competition. In other words, I think that the most important thing in business is to run an operation that is different from other businesses and which is continually developing.
I'm sure that as a registered tourist-guide who runs a travel agency, you have an enormous amount of travel-related information. Could you give a few pieces of advice to students who want to go backpacking?
The world is understood on the basis of your knowledge of it. Students should make an exhaustive study of the cities they want to visit before they go abroad. For example, if a student wants to travel the West, he or she needs to read Greek and Roman mythology or the Bible because western culture is based on Christianity. Likewise, if students want to travel to the East, they need to inquire about Buddhism. Through backpacking, we can escape from the old-fashioned idea that 'Korea is the top and bottom of my world.' The world is wide and various and there are many different philosophies. So, I often recommend backpacking to students.
What do you want to do next?
Broadly speaking, I want to do four things: I want to write many books. In fact people sometimes say to me, "You are a merchant but you don't look like a merchant at all, you are more like a professor"; I want to travel the whole of Europe for six months by motorized caravan; I also feel like going to China by way of the Silk Road; and if I have a chance to stand on a university-platform, I would like to tell students about my life.
Do you have any message to convey to your juniors at YU?
"Umm ... Let's fill gaps with effort! You have to be concerned about your real ability more than your academic title, so that you will have no occasion to think badly about your university, YU."
What do you want to say on the 60th anniversary of YU?
As most people in YU know, the university has been faced with crisis on many fronts. Therefore, I think that YU will grow better and better if all YU-people do their best and don't give up in times of crisis.
(If you want to more information about traveling in Europe and studying abroad through the Bora Travel Agency, please see http://www.boratravel.com)
Business Management '72
Byeong-Il Kim has worked as an executive director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) since 2004. He was a public servant in the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) in Korea before he was sent to London in July 2004, where the EBRD-headquarters is located. After finishing his detached service, he returned to Korea in August 2007.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has a unique mission. From it's beginnings in 1991, when communism was crumbling in Eastern Europe and in the countries of the former Soviet Union, the bank has helped to foster private enterprise and democratic development.
Today the EBRD uses its investment tools to help build market economies in 28 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. The EBRD is the largest single investor in the region and mobilizes significant foreign direct investment besides its own financing. It is owned by 61 countries and two intergovernmental institutions.
(If you want to know more about the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), please see: http://www.ebrd.com)
The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE)
MOFE is responsible for a variety of policies involving medium to long-term economic and social development policies including taxation, finance, national treasury, and state-owned properties. Other important dimensions of MOFE's work include foreign exchange and debt management, external economic cooperation, and stabilizing the livelihoods of the Korean people.
(If you want to know more about the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE), please see: http://www.mofe.go.kr)
Kim's Feelings and Thoughts about England
When he went to England in 2004, his first impression was that English people's faces were gloomy. He now thinks that this is due to the changeable weather. During his stay in the United Kingdom (U.K.), he found that English etiquette was very good. As an example, he said that the English always kept their appointments.
I wondered about his school days, so I asked him to look back on them.
"When I was a university student, I was determined to become a public servant, so when I was a sophomore, I started studying in Gosione - the place to prepare for examinations. While studying there, I was once a Gosione-leader but I didn't participate much in school activities."
Kim said that he liked Jeong-Hee Park, the ex-president of Korea. He thinks that Korea now enjoys a prosperous economy thanks to Jeong-Hee Park's policy. He also believes that the Korean people could not have conceived of democratization or labor unions without his achievements.
To the Universities of Korea
"English soccer's Premier League (EPL) is run according to the principles of a market economy. That's why the EPL is powerful and superior." The competitiveness of Korean universities is continually sliding, so Park recommends the introduction of the principles the market economy to universities in Korea, such as giving students the right to choose their university so that they can make the best use of their traits. He forecasts that Korean universities will be able to improve their competitiveness when they operate according to the principles of the market economy.
English Language & Literature '75
Sang-Wook Kim has been working as director general in the London-office of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) since 2006.
Since its foundation in 1962, KOTRA has been committed to promoting mutual prosperity between Korea and its trading partners by facilitating international commerce and investment. The experts in our Korea Trade Centers worldwide help Korean exporters meet local requirements and provide personal services to foreign investors who are considering doing business in Korea.
Kim entered KOTRA in March 1979. His major was English Language and Literature so he wanted to work abroad rather than in Korea.
"Before I came to England in 2006, I had worked in many other countries - Australia (Sydney), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), The Czech Republic (Prague), and Yugoslavia. The country I had the most difficulty adapting to was Yugoslavia. There were no Korean people there, except for one employee, so my family had trouble living there."
Kim said that although he sometimes has difficulty working abroad, he frequently finds his work worthwhile. He is now especially happy because medium and small enterprises have seen an annual 100 percent-extension.
What, then, is necessary to get a job at KOTRA?
"Students who want to join KOTRA have to study English industriously for their overseas service and, because KOTRA is located in all parts of the world, they should also study a second foreign language such as Chinese, Spanish, or Japanese. They need to major in departments related to trade, economy, and management or at least have some 'minor' credits in those areas. Getting experience through an internship would also be a good way to prepare for entering KOTRA,"said Kim.
To My Juniors at YU
"Widen your vision! Many students think of their future as limited to Korea. My juniors, you don't have to think this way, you can see and experience many other things. I recommend that you study a variety of current issues and experience the flow of the world through acting as an intern in a foreign country."
Kim also advised YU-students to seek out the promising businesses of the future. "These days, many developed countries are estranged from the manufacturing process and show more interest in value-added businesses such as design, music, and the movies. So, I think that value-added businesses will be one of the most promising sectors in the future."
After listening to what he had to say, I suddenly became eager to know more about his school days so I questioned him about them.
"While I was a university student, I was active in students' associations. I was a captain of the School of Liberal Arts as well as captain of the entire Students' Association when I was a junior."
Concluding the interview, he conveyed his wish for YU on its 60th anniversary.
"I think it's very important for YU-students to contribute to the development of Korean society. YU and YU-alumni have actually been contributing to the development of both the local community and the country and I hope that YU continues to produce more and more talented people to continue this contribution to Korean society. I also hope that it will make efforts to encourage larger numbers of its talented people to work around the world rather than working only in Korea."
For Himself & His Customers
Sang-Wook Kim is still proudly working hard in the Korea Trade Centre in London. Seeing him, I perceived that doing one's best eventually makes one shine most beautifully.
(If you want to know more about the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) please see: http://www.kotra.or.kr)