Malaysia proffers Korea commerce during high-level trade trip

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Along with Malaysian Ambassador Dato’ Rohana Ramli, the country’s minister of international trade and industry, Mustapa Mohamed, directed three seminars on “Business Opportunities in Malaysia” in late September in Seoul and in similar meetings in Tokyo from Oct. 1-2.

The seminars were aimed at updating the South Korean business community on current economic developments in Malaysia, and highlighting new opportunities offered by Malaysia, particularly for investment and trade in the manufacturing and services sectors. Malaysia has maintained annual average GDP growth of around 5 percent over the past three years.

A platoon of 47 executives and trade experts accompanied the minister in Seoul, representing a slew of economic sectors that the Southeast Asian country is promoting here, such as green technology, high-tech businesses, biotechnology, advanced electronics and automobiles.

More than 350 local executives, scholars and trade experts participated in the seminars.

In his capacity as chairman of the seminar, Ahn Choong-yong, professor of economics at ChungAng University, delivered the opening message followed by a keynote address by the Malaysian trade minister.

IMF CEO as a Pastor
Listening to the IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, speaking to journalists at the  concluding aspects of the meetings, one could  not but liken her message to what a pastor would tell  his congregation.  A church is supposed to be a place of providing succour to all manner of people: the highly indebted; people with failed marriages; people who are lost to addictions and all manner of miscreants. The role of the pastor is to give them message of hope which if allowed to sink can ultimately sanctify those bad individuals and turn them into men and women of envy. The reality however is that the pastor can only dish out tips, how the message he preaches  transforms is left to the individual members of the congregation. While some can stay on indefinitely without witnessing any change, others who put into practice what the pastor is teaching may become whole and functioning normally.


Culture Clues: Korea

A vital concept to understand in Korea is kibun, which means inner feelings. If one’s kibun is good, then one functions smoothly. If one’s kibun is bad, then one feels depressed or irritated. Keeping kibun in good order often takes precedence over other considerations. Damaging a person’s kibun may cut off the relationship and create an enemy.

Translating Values from Proverbs

Proverbs can be an important indicator of cultural values as they often reflect the underlying attitudes and beliefs translated into the culture’s members, such as attitudes towards business ventures and business relationships. Making sincere attempts to understand and appreciate our own as well as other cultures’ proverbs can help us improve in our cultural interaction. Consider the following:

  • The bigger the hat, the smaller the property. (Australian)
  • Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. (New Zealand – Maori)
  • Venture all; see what fate brings. (Vietnamese)
  • Where there are no tigers, a wildcat is very self-important. (Korean)
  • Call on God, but row away from the rocks. (Indian)
  • Don’t worry yourself about the fever before it arrives. (Thai)
  • Loyalty is more valuable than diamonds. (Filipino)
  • A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind. (Chinese)
  • If you enter a goat stable, bleat. if you enter a water buffalo stable, bellow. (Indonesian)
  • After victory, tighten your helmet cord. (Japanese)

Do you know more proverbs that reflect cultural values in business? Share them with us in the comment section below.

The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement: One year later

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis marked the first anniversary of the U.S. – Korea Trade Agreement. Within this year, U.S. exports of transportation vehicles increased significantly, achieving a 48% rise.

The Office of the USTR expects that by 2016, 95% of U.S. exports to Korea will be completely duty free. Ambassador Marantis said, “One year in, I am pleased to see that the U.S. – Korea Trade Agreement is already producing promising results for U.S. businesses and workers in America’s factories, farms, and firms. As both of our economies improve, we look forward to seeing America’s growing exports to Korea support even more jobs here at home.”

How does “Gangnam Style” become a success? –- new international marketing strategies

A Korean music video “Gangnam Style”, despite of its entire Korean lyrics, topped international music charts from Korea K-Pop Hot 100 Chart to American iTunes charts and has received 50 million views and counting on Youtube. The singer — Psy, a Korea pop star, does not have the traditional pretty face and skinny appearance customary among other popular Korean singers, but instead looks more like an “average Joe”.  So what accounts for the global hit song?

A recent article of Harvard Business Review suggests three main lessons from the song’s social marketing campaign:

  1. Make your product or brand more ownable”
  2. Crowdsourcing but in a controlled way
  3. Universal “emotional denominator that resonates across cultures”

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