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10 things South Korea could do to fix the economy 10 things South Korea could do to fix the economy
by Joseph Gatt
2019-12-24 08:47:55
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10 ideas for the South Korean economy to get back in track.

1- A greater diversity of businesses

skor01_400_02If you go around Seoul or any other South Korean city, here's what you'll see. In any given district, 50 fried chicken restaurants. 50 barbecue pork belly restaurants. 50 6-dollar pizza stores. 50 coffee shops, all serving the same very low-caffeine coffee, and I usually need two double espressos to wake up. 50 nore bangs (singing rooms). 50 adult pubs. 50 billiards halls. 20 real estate agents and realtors. And 50 internet cafés or PC rooms.

So here's my suggestion. The ministry of commerce should throw in ideas at these small business owners. You can start a Greek restaurant. Or and Indian restaurant. Or a Brazilian barbecue restaurant. If your café has a lot of students studying in it you could make decoration arrangements to give students more quiet and privacy. If it's more of a businessmen café, you change the tables accordingly.

Because if you don't, and businessmen mix with students, soon enough there will be no more clients. If it's take-out coffee, you want to put forward deals like 25% off on the third or fourth or fifth cup of coffee. If you're a singing room you can organize singing contests every now and then.

Point is, diversity brings in more clients. If my choice is between combination pizza and combination pizza, or fried chicken and fried chicken, consumers lose, and so do businesses.

2- Fixing real estate scams

Rent should be commensurate to the client base or potential client base. If you're based in Jongno or Gangnam it makes sense that you pay expensive rent. But if you're based in some of the smaller alleys, you don't want to charge excessive rent when there's no one around.

3- I know South Korea is a relatively small country and you can technically set foot in every major city in a little more than 24 hours, but business is a geographic issue.

That is, most people go to the business in their neighborhood. When I was working at a factory in the Geumsa-dong district of Busan, the factory really should have kept an eye on the Geumsa-dong district and tried to network with pretty much everyone in the Geumsa-dong district. That's the strategy that works best. If you try to network with the entire city of Busan, or the entire Korean peninsula, chances are you will remain anonymous, and no one will come looking for your products.

4-Export is a tricky business

Now that South Korea is refusing to implement safe payment systems, I would recommend the following: companies with under 5 million dollars in net worth should not be allowed to export (or something along those lines) and some exceptions should be allowed to the rule, such as the second-hand car business or any business with good export potential.

Exports involve a lot of scams, and I see people who got scammed post notes in the subway explaining how they got scammed by “Western Bastards” or “name a country bastards” almost daily.

5-Fixing the payment scam system

Right now, the law in Korea is, if you order something, you have to pay for it. But, if the person who orders something does not pay, and has no money, then no one gets punished. This has to be fixed, because a lot of businesses go bust because of this.

6- Forced sales tactics

My good friend owns a grocery store. He once told me that many companies, including ramen noodles and soda and other drink companies, force him to buy certain amounts, otherwise they stop delivering him the goods.

Problem is the goods are in demand, but my friend knows which ramen noodles sell and which don't (jjapagetti is the worst selling one and he doesn't need that one) and which drinks sell and which drinks don't (no one buys Cass Lemon).

So this abuse of power should end.

7- Imports

There's a sports clothing brand from France that my friend wanted to get an import license for. Two problems: someone had the monopoly on the import license. Problem two: I searched the internet for hours to try to find where goods from that clothing brand were sold, and did not find a single store where they were available.

Point is, if you're going to give import monopolies, you want to make sure that people are actually putting the product up for sale.

8- Foreign investment

When South Korea grants visas to foreign investors, foreign investors are forced to give up all kinds of information, including financial, business, assembly line and other information. Furthermore, the rules for hiring staff are complex, and you can only hire people with such or such credentials.

If you deregulate foreign investment, the following will happen: foreign investors will come, some will succeed, others will fail. Some will thrive and hire hundreds or thousands of Koreans, others will hire a few Koreans.

9- Business consultants

If you can't sleep, you go to a psychiatrist. If your leg is swollen, you go to a doctor. If your business is struggling, you check with a consultant. The business consulting business should thrive.

10- The education system

The Korean education system provides an excellent and solid basis of knowledge for industrial knowledge such as engineering or electricity or telecommunications and so on. But the curriculum for important subjects such as law, business, foreign languages, finance, statistics, accounting etc. is very terrible, or as my Korean friends put it, “garbage.”

In France, student unions pushed government-owned universities to have professors hand in their lecture notes at the beginning of the semester, and to have their lecture notes evaluated by a committee, and to stick to their lecture notes as closely as they can, with random anonymous checks to make sure professors are not inviting students for bribes or sex. Things are far from perfect in France and I have criticized the French system, but if Korean universities do that, that should prevent professors from ditching the lecture and telling their students the story of how they had a wonderful trip in Guam or scored 3 under par in Golf, inviting bribes in the form of Golf club access tickets and plane tickets to Guam.

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