Archive | December 2011

Half tuition fees: a tool for Korean politicians

Former teacher rejects half tuition fees

Cory Olson a former teacher gave me recently an article written by himself about tuition fees at Korean universities. O boy, when I read his article my heart started to jump! I LOVE controversy and this one was definitely one of those. The sky-high tuition fees drives every Korean parent NUTS! Unfortunately Korea does not have any natural resources like oil, minerals etc. we are depending heavenly on high skilled employees to compete on the world market.

Every Korean parent send his/her kids in the weekends for extra classes to so-called Hagwons. These unpopular weekend schools do exist to pump up the skills of each  child and to relief the working parents(6 days per week).  Korean parents pays a fortune on their kids for extra education including a preferred enrollment into the best Korean universities. These universities come often with very expensive tuition fees. These fees barely can be paid by the parents.

It´s not a surprise that with every elections the Korean politicians are advocating for half tuition fees. But Cory is wondering if that will be the right solution in an overcrowded job market in Korea. Too many high skilled academics and not enough jobs for them to offer a decent living. What are other involved parties are saying about this theme? Read it here.


Violins & Maestro Myung Whun Chung

Upstream Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra

Since late summer 2011 my 8-year old daughter is totally in love with violins and more. We took her to Concertgebouw a foremost prestigious concert hall in Europe. Personally I could not resist this special evening concert with Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Myung Whun Chung. For the first time this orchestra did a small European Concert Tour. Wow! How often can a real born Korean Ajumma see and hear Korean musicians in her second homeland Netherlands?! A chance I wouldn´t never ever throw away! After this concert I wrote a short review in a Korean paper: JoongAng Daily. Here my review quoted:

Last Friday, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra played for the very first time for European classical music fans at the famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. This European concert tour marks a new level of Asian musicians performing western classics .
 Holding the hand of my 8-year-old daughter, we listened together for 2 hours to Maestro Chung Myung-hun as his orchestra took us into his wonderful musical landscape and offered a wide palette of colorful notes ending with a beautiful Rachmaninoff & Brahms.
The satisfied Dutch audience gave these Korean musicians a well-deserved applause and stood while the Maestro left the scene.

Well well now not only myself but also my little -eki- is wanting for more……thus this Omma is looking for a new violin. Don´t worry it wouldn´t be for me but for my -eki- who wants to take violin lessons. Maybe within 10 years I can see my kid playing in a professional (Korean)orchestra 🙂

Korean Government ~ Banana Republic??

Korean Politicians gone WILD

Very recently I read this in the Wall Street Journal about a korean politician throwing a teargas canister to his fellow policy makers. This -jolly- good fellow did not like to ratificate the KORUS-FTA in the Korean parliament. Isn´t amazing that in a democratic civilized country like Korea the politicians shows us peasants from abroad this astonishing theatre drama? Are we that violent as Asians or we just forget our Zen balance if it comes down to -fight- for our rights?

Korea the really younger smarter brother of China?

Korea vs China

This summer 2011 after a brainstorm session with lots of good wine on my office desk I decided to propose a new Korea Economic Slice for Ouch, easier said than done! Now I had to work out a shortlist of writers and to think about the themes. Immedately one theme came up in my mind  after watching a documentary about the rise and shine of China when communistic Chinese government decided to engage more with the western countries. Hey! Thats sounds familiar to me.

After the Korean War and entering the ´60s the Korean government paved the way for Korean companies to get rid off the heritage that their Japanese predecessors left behind and started developing the modern backbone of the arising Korean global economy: Chaebols, huge conglomerates with tentacles in every conceivable business venture. How lucky I was to get two writers who were interested in my theme: Is Korea really the younger smarter brother of China? Here the two writers short bio´s:

Robert Eberenz worked his way up from being an ESL teacher in Korea to take within a year(!) a quantum leap to become a Senior Analyst for a boutique Investment Firm Puji Capital in Shanghai, China mainland. He founded the first Korea Economic Slice. And oh boy he is doing very well. Young eager and ever sharp he produced within my deadline a solid piece with substantiated figures and numbers. Dang! That was were I was looking for! Are you merely curious now? Read his piece here:

Stephane Mot  came to Korea around 1991 for the very first time. After a position at the French Embassy in Seoul he also survived 3 major Business start-ups and started as one of the first Power Bloggers on the world-wide web about Korea. And if that is not even good enough he wrote on the side a book in french called: Dragedies. He lives for many years in Seoul and currently he holds a position as Senior Advisor of Seoul Global Biz Center. His article with my theme I forwarded it to Korea Herald who placed his article in paper version as well in online version. Read here his view on Korea vs China:

Korea Modern Times 1910-1945

Korea is more than tablets and smartphones

Dear readers, last week I went to a vernissage of a new exhibiton at Leiden Volkenkunde Museum. A very special content were displayed in one section of the museum. If you ask anyone in the street about Korea before the big Chaebols did enter the Korean society from aprox 50 to 100 years earlier on I think you will get no answer at all. The history of this so much closed korean society is still hidden behind the palace doors of language difficulties and cultural differences.

This exhibition shows the visitor a look behind the scenes of the life of Korean people under the pressure of their occupiers called: Japan. But there is more. Little pamphlets and daily objects are also shown in glass display cases and tells their story on their own.

Professor Remco Breuker who professes Korean Studies at Leiden University was responsible for bringing out this exhibition. I spoke to him at the  -vernissage- and there is much more interesting about the current research(es) he is working on…..writing dictionaries, translating literary high culture korean novels, too much to mention over here. I definitely wants him next year for an interview on Korea Business Central! If you are this year around christmas time in the Netherlands, go & see!  

Foreigners doing biz in Korea

Korea Herald no1 English Newspaper in Korea

Recently Korea Herald did ask me to deliver a piece about doing business in Korea. Hmmm….let me think about it! After a deep thought I came back with 2 wonderful entrepreneurs both living in Korea and working in their shared company KWALUS. And that is not just where the story ends….the piece also should represent the two faces of doing business, Pro and Contra.

Both guys did a wonderful job. I bet they amazed themselves how much hidden (writing)talent they have and see the result right here and judge by yourself:

At least the guys were very happy with my work 🙂 Look at the Youtube video here:

Prof Ha-Joon Chang breaks it down for us!

23 Things They don´t tell you about Capitalism

The new book written by Ha-Joon Chang which holds now a professor chair at Cambridge University UK opens his attack on the so-called the global market wherein the free economy is the keyword as a solution for further economical progression. No need to say that with the recently signed Korean FTAs, KOR-US as well as KOR-EU.  This book is diametrically opposed to the Korean Government Policy.

When I started to do some research on this author for a new Korea Business Interview Series(KBIS) on Korea Business Central, I surprised myself about what the name Ha-Joon Chang brought about among my other Korea minded fans. You can categorize them roughly in two sections: either you love him or you hate him.

If you ask me what my thoughts are about him and his book(s) I can only say it´s worth while to read his most recent book as well an earlier one called: Bad Samaritans. The last one which was forbidden for a while in Korean Army barracks tells a very different view on our so carefully nurtured Free Economy with less governmental involvement.

In the end it turned out for me that although I am about for a minimized governmental involvement I have to admit Ha-Joon Chang does certainly deserves a couple of points in this story. Oh and yes he is a (british)gentleman indeed. I enjoyed very much my  email conversation with him and persuaded him to do an interview for us.

You can find our podcast/mp3/written interview here: and his biography here: