Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Ever wonder how Korea went from being the dirt poor nation of goat farmers that I saw on MASH...to the nation where one of the top 20 TV stations is dedicated to a video game (aka Starcraft). From one of the most dirt poor countries in the world to a country that's has more wireless access than Microsoft.
The answer is Chaebol. The Korean world for me mega-corporation. For the last 50 years Korea has used, abused, threatened, and gamed them against each other to achieve an economic miracle. You've probably heard of some of the winners...Samsung...Hyundae...LG...the losers...well they don't exist anymore.
The one thing about this economic miracle is that it is export driven. As much as humanly possible, Koreans don't do imports. Over 95% of the cars on the road are made by Hyundae (or its daughter company Kia.)
Everywhere they can, they mentality is that they can make it here, so why should they pay someone else to make it themselves. This applies to just about everything. In fact, it's hard to find many products that are made somewhere else (besides the token, overpriced foreigner foods at the supermarket.) So instead of say a Nestle Crunch Bar or a Kit Kat bar produced by the Swiss mega-corporation Nestle...they have Crunky and KicKer made by the Korean mega-corporation Lotte.
Now what pray tell do candy, Chaebols and November the 11th have in common? Well, the Chaebols here have the ability to manufacture holidays here the same way...say Hallmark does in America. In this case, national Pepero Day. Everyone is expected to give each other chocolate covered pretzels. In fact, my students gave me half a dozon boxes of these. Or as I called them last night...