#South Korea’s chaebol face reforms

For those that may be interested in the  business side of things.  This article does a good job at describing the current state of affairs.

From the Vancouver Sun: South Korea’s chaebol face reforms.

New president moves slowly to rein in powerful industrial conglomerates that dominate the economy

Most recently, the chaebol have become bloated oligarchies as South Korea has shifted from being a highly equitable society in the 1990s to developing a wealth gap approaching the level where it may threaten social cohesion.

Google & North Korea update

Well, it seems that the delegation that went to North Korea made it out without incident but not without stories.  Eric Schmidt’s daughter, Sophie Schmidt, explained a lot of details about the culture and way of (staged)life that was shown to them.  Quite a humorous take on it I’d say.  Read up on it here (if you can navigate the convoluted way it’s setup).

The best part I liked was the cartoon she posted.

Who is Eric Schmidt?
Who is Eric Schmidt?

Business and War in Korea

One of my main goals is to meet business people while I am in Korea with the idea of doing business to help people and make some money while doing so. I have been actively searching for networking events and learned about the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Korea. I was happy to find them so I gave them a call. I found out that they were having a Christmas Party. Tickets were about $80 per person. A little upscale but worth making some contacts and finding out exactly what type of people are involved, while having a good time doing it.

plaza-hotelThe party was at The Plaza Hotel in Seoul. We were in the Diamond Room on the 22nd floor (top of the hotel). It was a nice and fairly casual evening and had a great view of the city as well. The food was good with enough meat for the ‘meatatarian’ in me :) We met some interesting people from a wide range of jobs and businesses. Air Canada was a major sponsor and they donated a round-trip to Vancouver as one of the door prizes. We won two door prizes that night. A 700ml bottle of Canadian Club and a $100 gift certificate for Antonios Vinoteca Ristorante Italiano. Looking at the menu there and that $100 will go very quickly. In fact, we’d be short $10 if I ordered the T-Bone steak! I’m looking forward to eating here!
While in another country, one of the biggest fears (aside from war) is getting hurt or being sick. Well we seem to have the possibility of one and just finishing up the other. Sure North Korea is an important concern and that Seoul just finished doing a simulated ‘North Kore Attack Drill‘ in downtown Seoul. I was curious as part of the drill included a couple of fighter jets to fly over Seoul. When I heard the sirens begin, I went for a walk outside hoping to see the jets. It was a remote hope as there are a bunch of buildings around me and by the time I may have gotten into the clear, the jets were probably long gone. Assuming that they were even flying near my point of view. Oddly, I did see them briefly. I’m sure many people back home would be freaking out, saying things like “I think you should get out of there.” or “I would leave right away!” Maybe I should be more concerned than I am but I read a lot and read way past the hype that media plays in their articles. What I get, and keep getting, from these articles is the same thing I said in my very first post about the topic of war. North Korea is behaving like a spoiled child. This exact statement has been echoed in just about every article I read, some even word for word. I don’t have to be a parent to know what happens to spoiled children who cries wolf all the time and that is exactly what is happening to North Korea right now. The ‘adults” are sitting the child down and telling him to grow up. Everyone is kind of hoping that the Child won’t need a ‘spanking’ but that’s exactly what he’ll get. It won’t be pretty but it will be swift and good enough to knock some sense into him, should it come to that.

As for being sick, I rarely am. Maybe once a year, puts me out for 1 or 2 days then I’m back to normal. This happened last week. Some stupid cold got me, all the usual symptoms of coughing, stuffed sinuses and such. I did the usual stuff, relaxed (even more than usual :) ) and took lots of Vitamin C. The Vitamin C I used came in this lemon-flavoured powered stuff. You simply open the packet, dump it in your mouth and within 10 seconds it’s practically all dissolved. It’s really cool stuff. I was doing 2-3 of those a day and I think it definitely helped. I just have this kind of lingering dry cough, but that’s because it’s a dry cold here. Rather annoying but we’re managing. Of course Bharati got the cold after me, she’s just about over it now.

In keeping with business learning skills, I have understood what causes businesses to fail. Having a product or service and trying to find a need. This is completely backwards. Very few businesses have the know-how to artificially create a need for something that wasn’t there before (think Apple and how it markets). The best way is always to find a need and then create a solution. Well I found that the English teachers here need help. Many of them flounder around with the language and the country without really getting it all. Sure they survive but having asked a lot of them, they would gladly like some more help. So I started a new blog/mailing list to help them. The Korean Cafe was born to help those people, as well as travelers in general. The goal is to help English-speaking people learn more about Korea, it’s language, it’s infrastructure and such.

I have also started an English/Korean Club. The goal is to get people from both cultures and to learn to communicate. I figured it would be rather boring to do it on my own. Having the need to meet more people, this was the best way to help everyone and meet new people at the same time :)

And that was all in just the last week :) Looking forward to next week!