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Home > Story of a Big Player from Gangnam

320 Seukang Li’s Suggestion 3 – Part 1

 The deputy director of Dandong Border Economic Corporation Zone asked a question to Gun-Ho after looking at Gun-Ho's business card,

"I see you are running an auto parts company in Korea. What is the annual sales revenue of your company?"

"GH Mobile's yearly sales revenue is about 70 to 80 million U.S. dollars. We have another factory in Suzhou City called GH Parts Company, and it is currently generating 4 million dollars per year."

After verifying the size of the company that Gun-Ho owned, the deputy director immediately called for a manager. The manager was a Korean Chinese lady who looked like in her 40s.

"We will give a tour of the economic corporation zone to these gentlemen. Please prepare a vehicle for us."

"Yes, sir."

A moment later, a van that looked like Starex was standing in front of the entrance door.

Gun-Ho, Min-Hyeok, the deputy director, and the manager got in the car. Once they all sat in the car, the deputy director's sales pitch started.

"Dandong Border Economic Corporation Zone is a national-level development zone. In other words, it is a national industrial complex. Its total size is 117 square kilometers, and 30 ㎢is currently being developed."

Gun-Ho asked Min-Hyeok in a low voice,

"How large is 30 ㎢?"

"I'm not sure, maybe about the size of Gwacheon City."

Several factories were scattered sparsely in the development zone along the Amrok River.

"If GH Mobile decides to open your business here, we will provide you with tax benefits for more than three years. Everything is affordable here compared to Korea, including labor costs, material costs, and land prices."

"Hmm."

"Port of Dandong is a trading port which is located on the northwest shore of the Amrok River and bordered by the Yellow Sea. It is situated in a very convenient location for transportation and international export business."

"Hmm. Its location is excellent for a business for sure."

This time, the Korean Chinese manager spoke Korean in adding more explanation, with a smile.

"Do you see an island over there? It's Wihwa Island."

"Wihwa Island?"

Gun-Ho asked the driver to stop the car. He wanted to take a closer look at Wihwa Island.

From the bank of Amrok River, Gun-Ho looked at Wihwa Island. It was a river island, and there seemed to be no one living there. It was green with plants and trees.

"Oh... This is the Wihwa Island where the first king of our Joseon dynasty-Yi, Seong-Gye- made his decision to 'turning back the army from Wihwa island.'"

"Damn it. If he didn't turn back the army but crossed the river instead, this Dandong Border Economic Corporation Zone would have been part of Korea. That's a shame."

"Haha. Min-Hyeok, we can't play 'what if' with historical events."

The Korean Chinese manager asked,

"Have you thought of what kind of business you want to open in this area?"

"No, we haven't decided anything yet. We wanted to visit this economic development zone before making any decision."

"Have you thought of doing business with North Korea, by any chance?"

"We haven't thought of it..."

"You have to be extra careful in doing business with North Korea. If you are interested in it, I can introduce some people who are currently doing business with North Korea."

Gun-Ho's eyes widened and he looked at Min-Hyeok's face.

"I recommend you to hear the experiences from the current businessmen who have done business with North Korea before you start your own."

"Min-Hyeok, what do you think? Should we meet with them? I am so curious."

"Will it be okay and safe? The idea of doing something with North Korea gives me the shivers already."

"Let's do it"

Gun-Ho looked at the Korean Chinese manager and said,

"We are going back to South Korea tomorrow. Is it possible to meet with them this evening?"

"Give me one second. Let me make some calls and see what I can do."

The manager called someone.

Min-Hyeok looked worried, and he said,

"Are you sure we want to do this?"

"These people are government workers. They wouldn't deceive us."

The manager came back and said with a smile,

"I've contacted three people, and one of them is in Pyongyang right now. I can arrange a meeting with the other two people. Are you still interested in meeting them? If you are, I will make a reservation with a restaurant."

"Sounds good."

"Okay, then why don't you have fun around the railroad bridge nearby Amrok River? You can take a cruise ship there. We will meet you at Goolyeon Restaurant in Dandong City at 6 pm. Just take a taxi and tell the driver that you want to go to Goolyeon Restaurant, they will take you there."

"Okay."

At the conclusion of the tour, Gun-Ho extended his hand to the deputy director for a handshake.

"Thank you for showing us around. We will think about opening a business here in Dandong development zone and will let you know once we decide."

"You won't regret once you start your business here. Many Korean companies that are currently doing their business here were hesitant at first, but now they are doing great and they are all happy."

"Well, thank you for today."

Gun-Ho gave three nail clipper sets that he purchased from Korea as a gift, to the deputy director.

While waiting for the dinner meeting, Gun-Ho visited a historical site. He looked at the broken Amrok River Bridge which was destroyed during the Korean War. There was a new bridge next to it, and Gun-Ho was told that the new bridge connected China and North Korea. There seemed not much traffic on the bridge that day.

"During the Korean War, the Chinese People's Liberation Army crossed that bridge, huh?"

"That's what I read from a book."

Gun-Ho and Min-Hyeok took a cruise ship. When the ship approached close to Sinuiju City in North Korea, the North Korean people waved their hands. They looked a bit outdated including their clothes and hairstyles, but they looked innocent.

Gun-Ho and Min-Hyeok arrived at Goolyeon Restaurant that evening. The Korean Chinese manager was there already waiting for Gun-Ho and Min-Hyeok. She was with two business traders. They were Korean Chinese as well, and they both looked like in their 50s. One of them was an overweight lady. The manager introduced them to Gun-Ho and Min-Hyeok.

"This is the president of Samchully Company, and this lady is running a company called Azalea Trading Company. Well, I have to take off now. I have something I need to take care of at home. Have a good time."

The manager left the restaurant after a brief introduction to the people who were doing business with North Korea.

Gun-Ho and Min-Hyeok gave their business cards to two other business persons and they gave theirs to Gun-Ho's party as well.

The food came out, including a deep-fried carp which was huge, and Amrok River beer.

Min-Hyeok took the bottle of Amrok River beer and looked at the label closely.

"Wow. This beer is called Amrok River beer."

The president of Samchully Company said while smiling,

"It's your first time to see Yalujiang (Amrok River) beer?"

"Yes, I've never seen this before."

The lady president of Azalea Trading Company opened the beer bottle.

"Hahaha. Try some. It's good."

The beer tasted good and it was cool.

"So, you want to do some trading business with North Korea?"

These people were Korean Chinese, but their Korean accents were more like North Korean's, maybe because they often visited North Korea.

"We haven't done it before, but if it could bring good money, I am interested."

"You should take every precaution you could think of in doing so. The people of North Korea can be very deceitful, especially with South Koreans."

"Really?"

"You should use an agent instead of dealing with them directly. If you want to do a joint venture or other business, you probably want to work with them through people like us as your agent. Once the North Korean co-venturer learn that their business partner is from South Korea, it would become really hard to make them pay their portion of the investment. They think it is okay to take some money from South Koreans since South Koreans are wealthy."

"Hmm. Is that right?"