Since September 10 this year, koreabizcast has put on 59 episodes. In this final episode for 2021, Alex, Hailey, and Rod chat about their favorite episodes, what they feel they have accomplished and what they are looking forward to in 2022.
According to Rod, some themes have emerged over the three and a half months; diversity of business, transition towards a carbon-free economy and the changing face of ‘how’ we do business in Korea.
Hailey highlights the startups she has met during the season, as well as the government that are really motivated to find out more about the startup scene here in Korea. The way that the ecosystem is developing so quickly here, both through domestic programs such as Born2Global and overseas-based programs such as Techstars.
For Alex, it was the chance to not only meet some of the most interesting people in Korea, but also hear what they had to say about their favorite topics. Alex was also amazed at the range of business topics that generated such great conversations on social media and encouraged follow up episodes.
Looking towards 2022, KBLA will take a break now for approximately one month. We aim to back on air on January 24.
Today’s episode was brought to you by The Four Seasons Seoul. Stylish elegance in the very heart of the city.
A successful niche player in the cutthroat world of delivery apps
Alex Jensen: You’re listening to Koreabizcast with the KBLA I’m your host Alex Jensen and it’s Friday, December 17th. Aside from being exactly one week away from Christmas Eve, this day significant because it’s our last episode before taking a seasonal break. We will return in January, exact date to be decided because we’re all going away to various countries and have quarantine to do upon return. If like us you’re traveling, we wish you a safe trip. Otherwise, stay safe here in Korea, and thank you to our sponsor the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, offering stylish elegance in the very heart of the city. And making possible this latest episode in which myself and my fellow Koreabizcast partners discuss the journey so far, and where we plan to head in the new year potentially with some advice for you if you’re thinking of starting a podcast.
Alex Jensen: So then on the line, we have KBLA co-chairs, Rod Rothwell and Hailey Yang, both very integral to the Koreabizcast experience behind the scenes, although they have appeared at least a couple of times each during the course of the last few weeks. Thank you, Rod and Hailey for being here today.
Rod Rothwell: Thanks, Alex. Great to be with you.
Hailey Yang: Thanks, Alex. Thank you for having me again.
Alex Jensen: Well, again, thank you both not just for being here but also for all of your efforts and making things tick behind the scenes which we can reflect on in a bit more detail in a moment. I wanted to start with some of our highlights from the last few weeks. And Rod, just to go in the order that I just introduced you do you want to start? Are there any particular episodes or themes from the last few weeks that really stand out for you?
Rod Rothwell: I guess the theme that I’ve been most struck by is diversity in that what we’ve discovered over the last, what is it almost three months now? is the incredible diversity of businesses that are happening in Korea. Everything from yesterday’s episode on Shuttle to massive chemical industries to Somang’s Kada Kudu, IOI driven, tailor made high heel shoes, we’ve covered everything and that diversity is really just blown me away.
Alex Jensen: I really agree. And that’s what’s made it really fun to do the interviews as well, Rod. That we haven’t, we’ve tried not to anyway fall into the pattern of repetitiveness, though. I mean, there have been waves I think of, of interest from certain sectors. And I think Hailey particularly startups have been so open to this experience which has been great, a burgeoning community of people who are hopefully the future of business as well as the larger NAVER that they stand alongside. What about for you, Hailey, that the things that stand out for you? Has it been a startup experience, for example, because I know that’s an area you’re very much involved with personally?
Hailey Yang: Yeah, I think during the last episodes, I really appreciated for the not only for the startups but also the experts in the startup ecosystem. We could have a, you know, the chance to invite some experts who had a great experience and then knowledge for the startup ecosystems in Korea. So, it was great connection to, you know, to each guest and giving some credibility for startups, for their business. And also, I think we can connect to some more startups in next year, with the experts, with our network.
Alex Jensen: Yeah, I think it’s where our interests really align when people are seeking to find partnerships or seeking publicity or just seeking to share a story. And we’re looking to bring those stories out as well, Rod. That’s been a kind of evolution as well, trying to find our identity over this time. And probably every podcast has to do that when they start. Do you feel that starting to take shape now, just about 60 episodes in?
Rod Rothwell: Katie is starting to take shape, isn’t it? You know, we have, we’re starting to get into the themes of so this week, you’re really, we’ve had the theme of supply chain management and because that’s like a key current issue for Korea. So, I think that’s one of our themes is current issues. Not in the new sense but in the “Okay, this is something that Korea is going to have to deal with on an ongoing basis”. And then we’ve got these, you know, amazing, inspiring startup stories. And then we’ve also got, you know, Last week, we did some major businesses with Scott Watkins about what’s going on in specific sectors. So, you know, for me there the three themes that have kind of emerged like number one, current issues, number two, diversity stories usually around startups. And number three, what’s going on in in major industries such as chemical.
Alex Jensen: And just staying with you, Rod for a moment, you’ve been looking, a lot into the social media aspect of this and how to find that sweet spot both in terms of frequency of podcasts and the direction of the podcast as well. This is going to be an area of focus for you, isn’t it? over the Christmas break and going into the new year as we reboot ourselves in 2022.
Rod Rothwell: Yeah, I think there’s something to be said for balancing quantity of, quantity of podcasts with quality of podcasts. And so, we’ll be looking into the question and looking into the mirror and saying, is the daily format the right way to go? or should we perhaps think about three times a week plus Saturday, or maybe even five times a week plus Saturday? So, we’ll be digging into the data, looking at which days are people looking at us or listening to us more often, and giving people what they they’re telling, they’re telling us they want?
Alex Jensen: Because Hailey, I know when we experimented with our pilot week, we then did headlines at the start. And I’m very inclined towards the news because it’s part of my own professional background. It’s challenging to meet all the requirements in one go in these opening episodes. But I know that you personally like that format, didn’t you?
Hailey Yang: Yeah, I loved it. Because I think that only for the businessmen and businesswomen during in Korea, but foreigners or the people who are not based in Korea, they have, you know, very direct information with our headlines with especially the statistics with the numbers, I think that is really, you know, great information for them to understand the daily issues like what’s going on in Korea. But like for the Koreans, and also the foreigners who living in Korea, we are relatively easy to get the information, but our audiences are giving, you know, riding all over the countries. So, I didn’t know in 2022, we may need some, you know, compact the information to provide them who are more curious in the Korean economic situation, and also the health situation, I hope the COVID situation gonna be better next year. But still, the number is got to be important for them.
Alex Jensen: Right. I mean, it’s something we’ll definitely reflect I think depending on the format that we go for in the new year. And Rod, I personally, would love to be able to do it all but there are choices to make. And I’m definitely willing to listen to feedback. I know you are and Hailey as to we’d like to give out this email address email@example.com for anyone who’d like to get in touch and share that another way that we’re really encouraging is LinkedIn because it’s a really important platform for connecting businesspeople clearly, perhaps the ultimate platform for that. And you can find us there just by searching KBLA. Rod, what I wanted to ask you about though as well, was this value of having a podcast. Today, other people might be checking us out because they might be thinking about having their own media services and wondering how valuable it is at this point. What’s your assessment?
Rod Rothwell: I think it’s a wonderful way. And it’s a what I think what we’re building is a conversation catalyst that people listen whether they listen the whole episode or they just pick up the vibe, and then they engage with us on social media. As you said LinkedIn is a major priority. And the conversations that we’re getting on LinkedIn, I think are really great. I think we’re getting tons of support not only from the people on the podcast, but the people surrounding it. I think our next step with our conversations is to make sure that we reflect occasionally on a conversation we’ve had two or three days ago and provide a little bit of an update on that. Because when we had our cryptocurrency episodes, there was a really long conversation sparked about the values of Cryptos, the future of Cryptos and NFTs. And if Cryptos are kind of become so central in our lives, then these are really important conversations to have.
Alex Jensen: So, these will be some of the deep reflections over Christmas as I referred to before, Rod, what are you doing for Christmas? I know the answer that you’re going to Australia, for instance, but what’s your goal there? Is it total relaxation for you?
Rod Rothwell: Um, a little bit of both. Where we’re gonna meet one of our new sponsors, we’re gonna have lunch with them. And we’ll announce that when they’re probably on board. Also going to a wedding, I guess everybody’s favorite former AustCham, the Executive Director, Kim Jiseon is getting married in Sydney. So that’s happening. But the rest of the time. Yep. It’ll be relaxing with family watching a lot of crickets and drinking a lot of really bad beer.
Alex Jensen: What has to happen with cricket, I guess. And Hailey. For you, I think your plan is just after Christmas you’re heading out of Korea?
Hailey Yang: Yes, I have a planning to travel to the States with more than 26 students. And they are from three different universities. And so, I gonna bring them to the states on 26th morning. So, on Christmas, I don’t know I’m gonna may be busy to pack my carrier, like four or five weeks.
Alex Jensen: Well, good luck to both of you. How do you feel about the country’s you’re going to? And I’ll answer this as well in a moment for my destination of the UK, compared with Korea at a time when restrictions are just coming back into play having been announced yesterday for this weekend and cases breaking through new records repeatedly. Do you feel you’re actually still in a safer place here in Korea versus Australia in the US respectively? or do you worry perhaps that when you come back to Korea, it’s going to be a completely different place maybe if cases continue to rise at this pace?
Rod Rothwell: For me. I’ve always been really grateful about being in Korea during the last two years. I think that, you know, nobody does anything perfectly. But on a scale of perfect to basket case. I think Korea has done a pretty, pretty good job. Australia, you know, was super tight, super, super tight. And they’re just letting go of the shackles a little bit now. But yeah, it’ll be interesting to see. I think things will be worse when I get back. Honestly, I see what the government’s releasing new, we’ve got new restrictions today. For Saturday. So, I think when we come back things will be back to where we were probably this time last year.
Alex Jensen: And for you, Hailey?
Hailey Yang: Yeah. In Korea, actually, you know, during last two years, I never traveled to outside of Korea, but in Korea thing so, for our great citizens and also great tracking systems for the cases, we were in relatively safe, so refer to United States, I don’t know because I don’t have any experience in the States during the COVID. So, I’m very cautious to bring the students but for them, it is, you know, the great experience for the students in the 30 year and fourth year in the university. So, I’m just asking them to have the all the KF-94 mask during the full five weeks. And also, I don’t know when we come back to Korea. I’m pretty expect to like a, we’re gonna have the, at least 10 days quarantine for the students and also for me, but I hope the situation gonna be better in slightly weeks is so yeah, that is the situation for us.
Alex Jensen: And this is why our podcast is going to have to take a slightly longer break than we originally had hoped because not only are we going to be off from next week going into Christmas, but also then to reflect quarantine for ourselves for guests who might also have gone abroad and will be stuck in quarantine will be the later part of January that we reboot and keep an eye on our LinkedIn KBLA as I said before, because we’ll be making sure everyone knows when we are exactly going to reboot. I’d like to give an exact date now, but perhaps we should just keep that on ice for a moment just to factor in some of the unknowns that could affect everybody but definitely within January is our gall to be back live again. And for me going to the UK with an average of more than 50,000 cases a day, over the last seven days, and it’s been like that for some time, it’s felt like every time I’ve checked, you know, I’m bit nervous about it compared to Korea. What concerns me more than the raw numbers though is the attitude of people. There are rules in place, for example, to wear masks inside shops now, and from what I’ve been told by family in England, a lot of people are just ignoring those rules. And they don’t seem to be enforced either by anybody. And I wonder Rod whether Korea is at a bit of a crossroads in that regard, I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a lot of people just with total COVID fatigue. And that’s something you touched on before as well, kind of just want to wish COVID away, and seem to have relaxed to the point where these new restrictions are going to feel like a real pain for people over Christmas. And from our point of view through the business lens. How much of a problem is that? Maybe this is the best time of year for that to happen if people are moving into a quieter mode. I’m not sure what you think?
Rod Rothwell: Yeah, I think I just agree with everything you just said. I think that people are suffering from COVID fatigue, I think this round of restrictions will hit people particularly hard. And perhaps we are a little bit fortunate in that. Unfortunately, the air quality today in Seoul is pretty nasty. So, there’s no real reason to go outside. You know, it’s probably just a much better idea to stay inside, read a book or stay at work and go straight home. But yeah, I agree this round of restrictions, I think is really going to hit people hard.
Alex Jensen: Yeah, I thought that exactly, by the way, my morning dog walk, and we’re recording this on Thursday going into the Friday, I’ve been told and hopefully this will be true by the time people listen to this, that the while the temperature is going to drop, the air will be cleaner. That’s usually the pattern anyway, when it’s a payoff, warm weather and winter usually means polluted air in Seoul and wider Korea. But yeah, Hailey. The other aspect of this from a business point of view is offline events. We’ve been waiting to do more offline events and get involved in them as well as perhaps hosting some in 2022. Do you think that’s going to be off the table in terms of looking to arrange them in the first quarter at least?
Hailey Yang: Um, for even the Orang&Orang, we are the product planning company. But during last 2 years, we change it to order things to the hybrid event, even though the as I interview the lady, even though for the delegation event or the hybrid and also the any workshops, events, and even for the wine webinar, it is like, all the hybrid of things. For the next year, I don’t know how the situation going to be changing. But we started with a booster shot in Korea and also, it’s the same for the other countries. So, I’m pretty sure the situation gonna be better. But I think all the things are going to be the step by step. So, from the smaller numbers to the bigger number and also the I don’t know, for the lunch gatherings or dinner gatherings. It can be the smaller starts with the less number. But our goal is, you know, for the KBLA our mission is connecting the people and also make some bridges for their business. So, I hope we can have some offline events maybe with our sponsors, the Four Seasons.
Alex Jensen: Yeah, that would be really cool. In fact, the Four Seasons did recently host the British Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas lunch which is normally a really fun and raucous affair. I wasn’t able to attend at this time, but I know people who were there including my own wife, so I heard from a good source that it was actually still really fun. And in fact, you guys and me. We had dinner on that day and my wife was supposed to attend, and she had to, shall we say lay down after attending the Christmas lunch which is probably a sign that it was a lot of fun. The point being that even during this recent spike, people have been able to hold offline events without super spreader events also accompanying them. So, Rod that’s maybe a source of hope, do you think?
Rod Rothwell: It is, it really is. The Australian Embassy celebrated 60 years of Korea-Australia diplomatic relations only three weeks ago, I think, so if we can somehow get these numbers back down to something that government can handle and that the, our health system can handle. Then we all know the rules, you know, we mask up, we don’t eat that much food, we don’t have buffets, whatever it is, if we can just get back just a little bit, then we should be able to do something.
Alex Jensen: I want to finish with some advice for myself and for anyone else who’s interested, because I’m curious what you guys are going to do, like you Hailey, this is the first time I’m traveling outside of Korea since 2019. And I have no idea what I’m going to do in quarantine 10 days on return. And maybe we should do a whole episode on this in the future if the quarantine rules continue for a long time, do you think we can make quarantine a very productive period, for instance?
Hailey Yang: Ah, I wanna thanks to the Zencastr. I think, we still can have a day online interview or even for us and butters for the guest. So, it could be an idea, but maybe we can also share our experience in UK, Australia and in the States like, how was it during the COVID?
Alex Jensen: And for you, Rod? Have you thought of any good ideas?
Rod Rothwell: Basically, just going to be working on the website, obviously. I think we’ll just be focusing on getting it up to speed. That’ll be number one priority, number two will be finding the best guests for January when we kick off. I think that’d be the two major priorities, yeah.
Alex Jensen: Well, anyone listening now who’s going to find themselves in quarantine, and they know like, as they might be wondering how to use that time in January, get in touch with us as well for that reason because we’re going to need people to connect with and it can work one of both ways you might feel like you just want to take the opportunity to completely zone out. And that might be a good thing to do. But if you want to engage and use that time productively from a work standpoint then also get in touch with us. I’d like to say again, Rod and Hailey, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. I’ll extend that to everyone else as well. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with you both. And I cannot wait for 2022 and what it holds for us at Koreabizcast.
Rod Rothwell: Merry Christmas, Alex, to you and your entire family.
Hailey Yang: Merry Christmas, Alex and Rod and everybody, Happy New Year.
Rod Rothwell: Happy New Year, Hailey.
Alex Jensen: And to anyone who’s going to be spending any of Christmas or New Year at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, whatever is possible. Just follow all the guidelines, of course and check before you attend to given this is an evolving situation. And frankly, if you’re doing it anywhere else as well, we hope you have a great time. But I want to mention again, the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul because they’ve been such a great supporter of ours over the last few months. And they have made this latest episode possible as well. See you all again in 2022.