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Korean Business Culture Insights: "Making the Most of Your Korean Business Cards"

The following snippet from one of my lectures in the KBC Professional Certification Program is now part of the ebook Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

Purchase and download on Amazon.

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

From the lecture in Chapter 3 of Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!

"Alright, so I’d like to jump into today’s lesson on business cards by pointing out that the Essential Handout for this module is the only ebook in existence (as far as I know) about nothing other than Korean business cards, entitled “The Definitive Guide to Business Cards in Korea”. In that book, I really give you the skinny on just about everything there is to know... after all, it says it’s “definitive” right there in the title.

"But actually, it’s still not complete. Since I wrote that book, my own business card thinking has evolved through two additional transformations!"

Get the rest of this article in Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

"Here’s the thing about business cards in Korea. 

"I find that it’s often harder to explain to Koreans some of the things I’ve done than to show off a bit in the form of a mini-resume on the back of my card. Perhaps it’s that the language barrier is bigger when spoken, than when written, but I like to prime the discussion with a few facts about myself that will create a little interest.

"And since, as I explain in the textbook lesson, it’s common courtesy in Korea to actually review the business card that somebody gives you at the time of exchanging cards, I always get questions, and that gets us talking.

"But adding more stuff created a problem. With addresses, names and other information being written both in English and Korean, as well as some resume highlights, it soon became too much for one business card, until I thought of a new concept: the double-sized folded business card!

"Yup, here it is. 

"That was cool, but it was also pretty over the top, and Korean culture is such that a little feigned humility is appreciated -- even in business! As I was struggling for an answer about what to do, I came up with yet an even better approach which my friend Jinho suggested!

"I now carry two separate sets of business cards; one set for Koreans, and one set for non-Koreans. In addition to letting me get away without having everything in both languages on every card, each set has just the information I think the respective group will be more interested in.

"For example, Koreans don’t give a hoot that I’m a certified Korean translator or that I passed some Korean TOPIK exam at the top level that they could pass in their sleep. On the other hand, I find that Koreans are more interested in knowing that I graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington than non-Koreans, who often know that it’s a rathermid-level school.

"So, my point here is that since we know that business cards in Korea are a somewhat more respected business tool than back in the West, I encourage you to think through your approaches to them,and not just by creating two versions.

"Just as you should follow a few simple rules about business card exchanges (explained in the textbook portion of this module), so the business card can be a marketing tool in Korea in ways that are unique in Korea - and unique in ways that you can take advantage of it as a foreigner (remember how I said Korean business culture doesn't always work exactly the same with foreigners as amongst Koreans? We can get away with stuff.)

"So, how about you? Have you tried something that works with your business card? Share it with the class in the classroom, alright?

"Ah, and here are what my current cards look like.

"For more information on Korean job titles and business cards, be sure to read this article from Seoul Magazine: “Two Things to Remember about Korean Job Titles”.

"And I’ll also suggest that you read “Three Steps to Business Network Building in Korea”, another article for Seoul Magazine which is one of the extra reading links for this module. It explains that the business card exchange in Korea means “permission to contact” and why this is a vital key for business networking in Korea.

"So, am I keeping your attention through the lectures? I guess if you made it this far, you’re at least paying attention to the end. Give me some feedback though. What do you think so far?

"Share with the class in the Classroom."

 

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

Sign up today for the KBC Professional Certification Program to be more successful in your business and career in Korea.


Korea Business Advisor (Seoul Magazine) - Supplement to the Article "Three Hacks for Effective Korean Business Card Exchanges"

P1030834
In my latest column for Seoul Magazine's February 2012 issue, I introduce the three most important steps for exchanging business cards correctly in Korea.


Korea Business Advisor (Seoul Magazine) - Supplement to the Article "Three Topics That Will Interest the Koreans You Meet on Business"

2011-10-29 오전 3-09-26

In my latest column for Seoul Magazine's November issue, I cover some areas for fruitful and interesting discussions with Koreans as a way to establish rapport and build strong business relationships. To go deeper into this topic, visit the links below.

** CLICK HERE to read the full article on Korea Business Central.


Korea Business Advisor (Seoul Magazine) - Supplement to the Article "Two Things to Remember About Korean Job Titles"

2011-10-17 오후 9-21-58
My latest column for Seoul Magazine's September issue discussed job titles in Korea and how the traditional organizational hierarchy is alive and well in Korean companies. To go deeper into this topic, visit the links below.

 

** CLICK HERE to read he full article on Korea Business Central.


"Korea Business Advisor", Seoul Magazine - Supplement to the Article "Business Network Building in Korea"

8-10-2011 12-49-22 PM
My latest column for Seoul Magazine discussed the value of network building in Korea and some tips on how to leverage business cards for success in Korea. To go deeper into this topic, visit the links below:

** CLICK HERE to read the full article on Korea Business Central.


An Example of Long-Term Business Networking in Korea

I'm often a little surprised how easy people think doing business in Korea is going to be as a foreigner. Sure, teaching English is a piece of cake. But to move beyond this takes a long-term time-horizon and hard work. 

I was contacted by a member on KBC asking about getting connections in a specific Korean industry last week and I suggested he post his comment to one of our online discussions about business networking. Here's the advice I gave him:

"Koreans are great at organizing groups, seminars and online forums for specific interests. Accessing them without Korean-language ability can be tough, but with persistence, shouldn't be impossible. I understand from your email this week which you sent, you're looking for connections in the Korean film and television industries. As a first step, I'd encourage you to visit our next meeting of the Brand and Culture Forum, which will probably be the last week of August. We have some people in that group working in the Korean TV industry; you should definitely share your business card with them.

However, networking in Korea is about more than just meeting people and exchanging business cards. One of these days, I'm going to write a piece describing every link in the multi-year chain leading to some of the opportunities that have come my way. They came from establishing and maintaining long-term relationships that were based on more than just a specific objective in mind and from giving as much as getting. To move past the easy stuff (English teaching, for example) takes a lot of hard work over a long period of time. If you put in the effort, adapt to the Korean approach, and stick around long enough for the rewards, you'll eventually find yourself moving up."

In fact, this discussion got me thinking a bit more about business networking in Korea and I put together the following video this morning for our KBC Community Soapbox about just how long-term a networking process can take, and I'm sure in a few years, I'll be able to add yet more links to this chain, which will likely continue through to the end of my career:

 

   


How I Ordered 200 English/Korean Double-Sided, Full-Color Business Cards in Korea for About $12, Including Two-Day Shipping

The following instructions are prepared so that almost anyone can order, even without being able to read or type in Korean. However, a small amount of Korean typing ability is necessary for entering the mailing address.

1. I had my designer Catalin Soreanu prepare a two-page PDF of my business card (dimensions: 92mm x 52mm) with one page in English and one in Korean.

2. I opened Internet Explorer because other browsers don't work in Korea for e-commerce.

3. I went to ecard21.co.kr.  

4. I select the following graphic that says “파일주문명함” (actual graphic may be changed later).

4-9-2010 4-07-17 AM
5. I selected these options.

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6.  I then clicked this button.

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7.  I filled in the next screen as follows (though when I got to the address section, I had to follow the sub-process shown below this graphic).

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 7a. In the address lookup above, the following pop-up window appeared.

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7b. I entered the "dong (동)" in which I live and clicked "찾기".

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7c.  I got a list of choices.

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I clicked the one that corresponds to where I want the cards delivered and then returned to the main form to enter the rest of my address.

8. After finishing the large form above and clicking "확인", the following screen was shown to me:

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9.  I then sent the amount shown in the blue box above to the bank account shown in the red box. I was sure to send from the bank account owned by the person I indicated in the form previously (which was me). I did it online but I could have sent payment by visiting the bank.

10. At any time I can check the status of my order by clicking "배송조회" on the home page:

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On the next screen, I need to click the "파일주문명함" tab to find my name in the list, along with the order status:

4-9-2010 4-51-50 AM
 

 


Notes from a Colleague Before My Presentation to the GyeongGi Province Advisors Last Month

My colleague, Dom LaVigne, has deep experience working with Asian governments in the area of foreign direct investment, so as I was getting ready to present to the GyeongGi Province advisors last month, I asked him for a little advice.

P1000808 Dom doesn't do things half-way though and he put together a remarkably long and helpful list of questions/insights before our online meeting to coach me before the event. While the setting for my presentation to GyeongGi Province wasn't really conducive to a Q&A approach, Dom's notes cover the range of areas a complete conversation would address. 

He even had some suggestions at the end about how we could make it a joint presentation. We'll have to do that next time, though, since Dom's still back in the US.

In my future communications with others on the GyeongGi Province advisors board, I plan to keep these in mind so that over time, I can learn and propose in ways that add the most value to my position.

(I took the photo above on March 24, 2010 from the hill where Smith Company of the US Army first engaged North Korean invading forces as they headed south from Seoul. Today, this ground which was covered by dozens of Korean tanks penetrating the US position is the site of massive construction of Dongtan New City, immediately south of Suweon. My meeting with the Gyeonggi Province advisors was held in Suweon.)

Notes from Dom LaVigne

1.                  Overview of GG Advisory Position and Responsibilities (Steven)

a.       How many advisors on the council?

b.      Group makeup – i.e., all foreigners, mix, KR govt officials, any AmCham/EuroCham reps?

c.       Is your role intended to represent primarily American expat interests, or would you be an advocate for all expat nationalities?

d.      How often will the council meet?

e.       How long will the meetings be (i.e., one hour, two hours)?

 

2.                  Overview of GG FDI Promotional Efforts (Steven)

a.       How is the GG govt structured to promote FDI?  Who heads its efforts?

b.      Are there govt orgs tasked with FDI attraction and helping local SMEs globalize?

c.       What industries have been key in GG’s economic growth so far?

d.      Which industries is it targeting for the future?

e.       Are there any govt arms to look after foreigners/expats’ interests (e.g., akin to Seoul Business Center)?

f.       What is GG currently doing re. social media and social networking?

g.      Is GG doing any coordinated FDI promotional stuff with KR federal authorities (InvestKorea, KITA) or with other provinces?

h.      Does GG have a close relationship and ongoing dialogues with foreign partners (e.g., US Embassy, chambers of commerce)?

i.        Does it have formalized mechanisms in place for attracting foreign businesses, addressing investor concerns, to help facilitate easier visa applications, etc. (a “one-stop shop”?

 

3.                  Advisory Postion:  Case Study / Benchmarking (Dom)

a.       Singapore case study

Not completely relevant to Korea, but Dom will share briefly

                                                              i.      EDB, IE Singapore (iAdvisors Program), Tourism Board, SICC, SBF

b.      Malaysia case study

                                                              i.      How Malaysia appoints and works with expat advisors

1.      Key foreign players (AMCHAM, EuroCham, BritCham, GerCham) + locals (MICCI, FMM)

2.      Dialogues (Permuda, NEAC, MITI, MDTCA)

3.      Specific agencies (MITI, MDeC, MIDA, MDTCA, Home Affairs)

4.      State/Municipal Govts (Penang)

5.      MDeC/MIDA trade missions

6.      Analysis of expat advisors and commitments expected by govt, length and frequencies of meetings

 

4.                  Ideas for GG FDI-Promotion Activities (Dom)

a.       Council of Advisors who meet with Governor quarterly

b.      Centralized FDI-promotion agency – i.e., the EDB of GG

c.       Unique branding/marketing – what makes GG different? (Dom can also recommend branding advisor.)

d.      Focused sectoral development.  Does GG have adequate educational and local supply-chain infrasture to support this?  If not, how long to develop?

e.       Education:  Are GG students employable?  What are the advantages/disadv’s to local and foreign companies of GG workers, and where are skills needed to be upgraded (share Penang example)?

f.       Does GG have officials targeting key markets (e.g., China, India, SE Asia, US, Europe, South America)?

g.      Develop a clear PPT package that outlines InvestGG – stats, current investors, future investors, incentive packages, highlighting top foreign investor names/profiles.

h.      Great KBC recommendation on “success stories” for GG’s promotional efforts.  I’ve attached one done by US Chamber, used to lobby Congress for passage of US-Singapore FTA.

i.        Trade missions – inbound & outbound.  If US, important to include DC (Dom to cite MDeC example).

j.        Develop foreign contacts – i.e., invite US Amb to visit GG for briefings plus visits to US company facilities (Dom to share KL/SIN examples)

k.      GG to be proactive and ask AmCham if they would like to feature Governor at member-wide luncheon, re. briefing on GG

l.        Invite chambers’ members for tours out to GG, lunch, mtgs with govt officials (Dom to cite MDeC cooperation in KL).

m.    Alert chambers and embassies if GG having visitors from US/other countries (I’ll explain why re. how this happened in MY/SIN).

n.      Intended tech parks in GG?  Dom to share example of SembCorp Parks Mgt in CN/VN.

o.      GG town-hall meetings with foreign biz/govt communities annually.

p.      GG visits to EDB, MIDA, TEDA, etc. to benchmark what they are doing?

 

5.                  Social Networking / Social Media Ideas (Dom):

a.       Review GG web site – easy for investors to navigate?  Contact info apparent and useful?  List of officials with contact details (e.g., www.sgdi.gov.sg)?  Definite advantage if done well – first impression created of GG by potential investors.

b.      All relevant GG personnel should get LinkedIn accts and assign particular officials to KR-related groups (e.g., Korea Network, Expats & Koreans, FDI group, Korea Finance) as well as other market-specific ones (e.g., Singapore Global)

c.       Relevant GG personnel to get signed up on KBC, introduce themselves, let people know they are there to help with FDI, and perhaps some background on industries they represent, market focus, how people can contact them.

d.      GG Governor or other senior personnel to participate in a bi-monthly Skype video roundtable discussion with relevant KBC members.

e.       Facebook?  I’m not a fan of it for biz networking, but could be a good tool for them to get involved.

f.       GG to setup InvestGG forum on LinkedIn.

g.      PR/media:  Forgot to mention this above, but they must do aggressive, targeted, smart media outreach, including bringing in media to GG (Dom to share SG 2004 example).

 

6.                  Your Presentation on Feb 19 (Dom)

a.       Bits and bites and highlights from #2-#5 above – depending on your specific role to them (as US liaison or general expat liaison, plus social media expert) can be customized accordingly.

 

7.                  What Can I Contribute?

Depending on how GG is setup currently to attract FDI, market themselves overseas, etc., they might need someone quite senior to head up this area, or to work as a liaison to the governor and InvestGG on developing their strategy, determining resources and budgets needed, and building networks with the foreign business and govt communities, as well as planning inbound/outbound missions.

a.      By the end of our discussion, likely some light bulbs will be going off in your head.

b.      Having an advisory panel is fantastic, but if GG doesn’t have an internal (full-time) resource already who is set to work with the advisors and foreign biz community, it is not practical to expect an advisor to take all this on their shoulders (I’ll cite a M’sia example).

c.       If my ideas resound well with GG:

                                                 i.      Setup Skype videoconf introductions?

                                                 ii.      Point above and/or if GG could cover my travel expenses and a consulting fee for my time, I’d go and spend a week there to see firsthand the investment, meet with companies, talk with GG govt, have strategy briefings like what we’re doing, and ultimately prepare a report/recommendations/gameplan on what I think they could/should do to attract FDI.

                                                 iii.      From Point II, hopefully they would see the value of bringing me on-board, and (ideally) either discuss that during my trip to GG, or upon their seeing the final report.


Message #1 to an Associate: Thoughts on Working for a Korean Government Entity

An associate of mine is working to land a job with a Korean government office to support their work promoting Korea overseas. He has a remarkable background, having lead an organization elsewhere in Asia for several years, as well as having worked with top government leaders in the US. He's truly got a unique resume and his international network is impressive. He's also a hard-worker who generously shares his deep knowledge with others. I'm not exaggerating when I say that he could really make a difference for some government agency in Korea that is trying to promote some aspect of Korea overseas.

P1000530But his efforts thus far have not led to much interest. Indeed, he can barely get responses back from the officials he's been contacting and this is before he even starts talking compensation, which he reasonably expects should be at an international level.

For various reasons, I am trying hard to put him in touch with the right people and based on my recommendation, he's already contacted the GyeongGi Province Foreign Investment Attraction Office and a top official for the province of South Choongcheong. In addition, I forwarded his information to a colleague having a close relationship with someone close to the mayor of the city of Incheon. This is Korean-style networking at its best and if anything is going to work for my associate, one of these will.

But as I reflected on my experiences in Korea (in particular, with the province of Gyeonggi) and discussions with another American associate working in one of the Korean central government agencies, I'm questioning the feasibility of a foreigner being able to do very much within government circles. I sent my associate an email a couple weeks ago right after the GyeongGi Province advisors meeting. Here it is in slightly edited form:

Hi <Associate>,

Frankly, based on my contacts with people related to GyeongGi Province and seeing the struggles you’re having, in spite of your strong background, I think finding a satisfactory position in an Asian organization is going to be tough. As far as Korea goes, the Korean government agencies just aren’t going to turn over a bunch of responsibility to a foreigner and they aren’t going to pay adequately for it. You’ll find a few examples where Korean MNCs are hiring foreign executives, but they are operating on a direct profit motive with executives whose value on the international market is proven; within the government agencies, it’s an “old boys’ network” and they don’t know you. Remember, GyeongGi Province just got my limited efforts and resources for nothing because I am fitting that into a long-term strategy to build my understanding and network in Korea but they sure aren’t asking for my advice on policy; you may not have the patience for such an approach.

I was impressed with the caliber of people at the GyeongGi Province meeting yesterday. These weren’t slackers or country hicks; many/most have degrees from foreign universities and deal with foreigners on a daily basis. I don’t doubt someone like you could come in and bring dynamism to the process, but I find it hard to think anybody in that room is ready to take orders from someone younger than them and who doesn’t share their Korean outlook. I’m not one of these foreigners who moans about always being an outsider; it’s not something they do deliberately, it’s just a fact of how things are. It would make no more sense to complain that I can’t walk through walls.

I’m going to keep pursuing your applications with GyeongGi Province and South Choongcheong Province (plus one more with the Mayor's office in Incheon). We will eventually learn something from it. Hopefully I can get you at least a phone interview or two and that can help to understand better. But unless you’re willing to come in at a junior level at a low salary, I can’t see things going anywhere soon.

P1000548  

On the other hand… your work with <non-Asian organization in Asia>, etc. will most likely be appreciated by foreign companies and organizations in Asia. Since they bring in foreign talent all the time, they operate at international levels of compensation and don’t have hang-ups about foreigners in positions of authority. Also, knowing Korean isn’t a pre-requisite. I could be wrong, but I bet this is a better angle for you. Of course, this is hardly an unexplored niche since this is where most non-Koreans go first anyway and the number of available positions is very limited.

Your experience looking for a job in the US is interesting. It sounds like you and I operate in something of a middle-world. Our perspective back home is more international than most; but in Asia, we’re still not Asians. It’s a tough, narrow niche sometimes but one that is wide open with the right strategy which helps to bridge cultural gaps.

I think you have to keep thinking about how your skills and background match the opportunities and then figure out which opportunities match with your goals. I sense you’re going to have to get your feet on the ground here sooner or later in order to get all that straight; the long-distance approach almost writes you off as an outsider from the start.

I wouldn’t tell you not to take a great opportunity in the other places you're looking; but I hope you make it to Korea.

Let’s keep discussing; tell me where you think I’m wrong. I’m learning a lot also.

Steven

Photographs: The above photos are from our recent trip to the Chiri mountain area. The top was taken at Yeongok temple and the bottom is from Jinju fort of the Namgang river below.

On Becoming a GyeongGi Province Foreign Investment Attraction Advisor, Part 2

The advisor meeting on Friday, February 19, 2010 was held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Suweon. As this was my first time to hold an official title in Korea and I didn't have any idea what to expect in advance, I was apprehensive before the meeting. In particular, I had volunteered to give a presentation even though it was my first time to have attended.

The advisory committee meets twice per year and is made up of a cross-section of the Korean business world, each specializing in a particular subject matter. There are four advisors with expertise in the large Korean conglomerates, six focused on strategic global regions (two for the US), two from think tanks, six in miscellaneous areas (finance, accounting, law, services, FDI and PR (that's me)) and four from academia. No advisors, as far as I know, are paid for their support and so each of us was in attendance as volunteers. Several government officials from the Foreign Investment Attraction Office were there, too.

3-7-2010 10-46-52 PM  I was very impressed at the calibre of people in attendance. Though the meeting was held in Korean exclusively (except for the Japanese head of JETRO in Korea, who participated through an interpreter), I doubt many advisors would not be easily conversant in English; many have studied and worked overseas. I recall that the Director General has a Ph.D. from an American university and worked for something like 10 years in the research department of a US multinational corporation. 

There are apparently 2-3 other Americans, but they were each represented by a Korean representative at the meeting so I didn't meet them. I was the only Westerner there and every advisor is male.

I spent the meeting mostly listening. And coming from a US perspective, it was interesting to note that foreign investment in Gyeonggi Province doesn't only mean American or European investment. In fact, a great deal of the group discussion was taken up by the topic of attracting FDI by Japanese companies. In particular, with the recent Toyota quality issues, which is apparently top-of-mind in Korean business today, advisors were asking what kind of value proposition GyeongGi Province could offer Japanese companies so that they can escape the high costs of Japan while still maintaining quality. The conclusion was that while Korea is not a cheap country anymore, the cost/quality ratio is competitive. 

I noted also how the pitch being given by GyeongGi Province when it courts the CEOs of multinational companies is that, rather than trying to sell in the Korean market directly, they should simply use Korea as a production location for re-exporting elsewhere. This is interesting to me on various levels because it almost came across to me as an acknowledgement that the Korean market is too small and/or too difficult to crack and that foreign companies shouldn't bother themselves with trying to export into it.

I think this overlooks a very important competitive point about the Korean market, which is that it is probably one of the best test-beds for foreign companies before or during their entry into other Asian markets (i.e. China) and that Korean offices of MNCs punch above their weight in terms of introducing innovations that are then applicable globally. I cut an article out of the Korean version of the Jungang Daily back on November 19, 2008 ("다국적기업, 한국서 배운 '성공 노하우' 들고 세계로 간다") which describes this in detail. 

This is a profound advantage that Korea offers and I may suggest giving a presentation at the next advisor's meeting in August about this very topic. I don't remember anyone at the meeting mentioning this and I bet such a Korean advantage may not be adequately recognized in the efforts of the province to attract FDI. By being able to emphasize the creativity of its people and dynamism of the market helps the province move beyond the quality/cost dimension and truly give substance to the catchy slogans that every city and province in Korea keeps coming up with.

Overall, the meeting was a fascinating opportunity for me to experience Korean business from the inside and continue building my network. 


On Becoming a GyeongGi Province Foreign Investment Attraction Advisor, Part 1

I met GyeongGi Provincial Governor Kim Moon-Soo at his official residence last summer in Suweon and wrote about the meeting in a previous post (Meeting the Governor). With a little persistence, that meeting led to lunch with the governor's office manager and Foreign Investment Attraction Office Director General Lee Hak-Soo in November where I proposed that I could support the foreign investment attraction efforts of the province through my social networking activities in exchange for an official (though unpaid) position. 

The Director General was receptive to the suggestion and as I was getting ready to head to the US for winter vacation, I said I'd do some preparatory work and provide more specifics on my return to Korea in February. I corresponded with his staff a little while in the US but it wasn't until we'd been back in Korea for a couple days that I received an invitation to the semi-annual meeting of advisors to the Foreign Investment Attraction Office of the province... as well as notification that I was to be named to a two-year term as one of twenty-two advisors! 

Realizing that I needed to make an extra effort right off the bat in order to stay relevant with my social networking-based initiative, I asked for and was graciously given ten minutes to present to the group. Here is a link to the presentation I gave in Korean:

2-21-2010 2-08-26 AM

Download 10-02-17 GyeongGi Province Presentation, v2k 

An English version of the presentation:

2-21-2010 2-16-09 AM

 Download 10-02-17, GyeongGi Province Presentation, v2e

Following my presentation, the meeting continued with about an hour and a half of group discussion about the foreign investment situation in GyeongGi Province. This was followed by the official awarding to me (and one other new advisor) of the following Letter of Entrustment:

위촉장 

Letter of Entrustment

Korean Consulting & Translation Service

Representative: Steven Bammel

I hereby entrust you with the position of "GyeongGi Province Foreign Investment Attraction Advisor" based on Article 12 of the Ordinances on GyeongGi Province Foreign Investment Attraction and Support.

(Entrustment period: February 19, 2010 - February 18, 2012)

February 19, 2010

Governor of GyeongGi Province

It is an honor to have received this position. I will work hard to be an effective member of the advisor team.


Meeting the Governor

We had a very interesting meeting with Kim Moon-Soo, Governor of Kyunggi-Do last Saturday evening. Several things stand out in my mind from the event.

1. Having gone to meet the Governor based on some small talk with him about me being a promotional representative for the province over a year ago after he spoke to a meeting of Hanyang University alumni, it was interesting to see how my associate hooked in a presentation of his other business, and even invited yet another business associate who also appealed to the Governor for assistance on his business, all the while insisting that we were together one and the same organization. And this all came about because a business associate of my business associate is friends with the younger sister of the Governor's wife!

2. I was surprised at how gracious the Governor was for our visit. We had assumed that we would get just enough time to present our situations briefly and then it would be over...15 minutes, maybe 30 minutes tops... But as it turned out, we spoke to his wife for about 45 minutes before he arrived as he was coming from a dinner meeting and then, starting around 9:45pm on a Saturday night, he gave us a full hour of his time. In particular, as the meeting went from the expected (to talk about my possible role promoting the province) to the unexpected (my colleague's request for intervention on their business approval), to the really unexpected (my colleague's colleague's request for the Governor's support in attracting a musical event to the province), he listened very patiently and interrupted very little. At times, he asked carefully what exactly it was he could do to help and gave clear indication about how and when he (or his office) would follow up.

3. The upshot from my side of the meeting is that his office is going to contact me at the end of August after my trips to the US and India to discuss the possibilities and he even mentioned that there are many areas in which we should be able to work together. He seemed duly impressed with my Korean ability and long-term living in the province of Kyunggi.

4. Even once the meeting was over, the Governor spent a good 5-10 minutes distributing various literature to our group, signing for each of us a book he's written, etc. And as we were going out at almost 11pm, we noticed that he had yet another group of people waiting to talk to him! It made me wonder how tedious it must be to be constantly appealed to for this or that "opportunity".

Stay tuned to find out where this "opportunity" leads.


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Get this...

Last year, along with a long-time Korean friend and fellow student, I attended a Hanyang University alumni breakfast where Gyeonggi-Do Governor Kim Moon-Soo spoke about future provincial development plans. After the meeting, I went up with my friend to meet the Governor and we exchanged a bit of small talk and business cards. We also greeted his private secretary and chatted for a moment, during which time my friend made the suggestion that they give me a role of some sort in promoting Kyeonggi-Do Province, which the secretary politely agreed would be a great idea and that he’d get back to us on it… which of course, he never did.

Fast forward to today….

My friend has established a small non-profit organization in Ansan which is working to provide various social services, and they’ve just set up office in a spare office building on the “campus” of a small hospital in town and are planning to work together on some projects with the hospital. He invited me over to see the new digs, and unbeknownst to me, scheduled for me to arrive at, well, right in the middle of a meeting he was having with a director of the hospital. As we were talking, he just happened to mention the situation in the first paragraph above and, lo and behold, the director exclaimed, “Oh! The older sister of my close friend is the wife of Governor Kim Moon-Soo!”… To which my friend replied, “Um… Do you think you could check with the Governor about having Steven be a spokesman for the province? After all, his secretary had already agreed to the idea but didn’t follow-up with us.”… The Director got on the phone straight-away, called the Governor’s wife and set up a meeting on Saturday morning for the three of us with the Governor and his wife at the Governor’s residence...

The Korean word for describing the feeling in a situation like this is “황당하다” (though you’d never know it from the dictionary definition).

I’ll post an update over the weekend about how the meeting goes! J