My Goodness, My Guinness

June 27, 2007

I’m pretty speechless at the prospects of losing Guinness here.  All that would need to happen next would be to lose pasteurised milk!  Those two go, I’m gone…  Me and UHT do not go. 

Anna Fiefield and Song Jung-a wrote about the potential Irish community’s nightmare here.

Here’s a post from The Marmot’s Hole which paints a picture on how foreign companies seem to be treated unfairly in comparison to domestic.  I’m drawn to this debate in my emotional state (!) and agree that foreign companies have to work a lot harder to build their reputation here and keep them.  I’m sure also there’s more to this and I’d be very curious to know how solid the companies’ stakeholder relationships were in Korea.

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Defining Korea through others

May 31, 2007

Just came across this Joongang Ilbo’s editorial.  Although I disagree with the blind patriotism of Irish people remark – I think we have come a long way from that – it’s a comparison I’ve seen drawn before (or being told before by Koreans I meet!). 

However, with all the other comparisons to how Korea resembles many other nations around the world, I couldn’t help wondering why Korea always seems to do this?  It’s something I’ve noticed time and time again, and it’s something I see applied in businesses as well: looking to others for inspiration when what they have themselves is quite inspiring…!

I know for sure people in Ireland don’t sit around defining themselves through others.  It’s much easier a nation or a business to define itself through contrasts and similarities.   It’s a lot harder to stand up and say why you’re different.

Just a bugbear…

Or is the article a brilliant work of art pointing to how Ireland “shattered the framework of self-confiing perceptions!”


“‘Ouse? You were lucky to ‘ave a ‘ouse!”

February 26, 2007

With apologies to Monty Python, today’s Joongang Daily carries a story about the trials of buying property in Korea which is revealing on two levels. Firstly it shows how inefficient government is in regulating markets. The government limits the amount that licensed financial insitutions can loan, but that doesn’t meet demand, therefore people go to unlicensed institutions and get fleeced. It’s the people at the lower end of the income scale that need more support, but they are the ones that are penalized by a system that limits their access to capital.

Secondly, the article rounds out by pointing out that the foreign financial lenders who will provide up to 85% of a home’s value at 6% interest are cashing out (the domestic banks are the only ones that are restricted by the government’s regulations). Mortgaging is essentially a matter of risk management and assessing the ability of the borrower to repay or,  in the event of non-payment, of the lender to recover the debt.

The Korean government’s policy of restricting the ability of people to buy or sell property simply feeds the inefficiencies in the market that are – at least in part – at the root of the inflated housing prices in Seoul. If the government would just butt out, stop trying to second guess the market and let the financial instutions themselves decide how much they are willing to lend and to who, it would go some way toward facilitating an equitable distribution of capital.

It also remains to be seen how long it will be before the “evil foreign capital investors” are exposed for making “enormous profits” and the “expense” of the Korean taxpayer.