The conversation begins with Peter and Penelope introducing their connection with Korea. Despite both growing up in Korea, Peter is a confirmed Yeonhui-dong Seoul Saram while Penelope grew up in Gongju, Chungcheongnam-do. Both have left Korea without expectation of developing careers on the peninsula but returned to find their callings and themselves.
Both now work at IRC Consulting, Peter as Founder and Managing Partner and Penelope as Executive Consultant. IRC Consulting’s mission is founded on the truism that Korea is unique, and to succeed in business here, international businesspeople need to fully appreciate those differences.
How IRC Consulting Can Help
As Peter says, “I’ve lived in Korea for more than 50-years, and I’m still learning new things. I’m learning how to work with Koreans, how to meld their ambitions with the desires of international organizations and the objectives and hopes of Korean organizations. I am still learning how to bring all of these people together so that they can create value. I have seen talented people and powerful organizations crash and burn here because they were unable to reconcile their needs with the desires and capabilities of their Korean stakeholders.”
Korea’s rising global profile brings new opportunities for foreign businesses that are built upon the fundamental strengths of the Korean economy.
As Penelope says, “Korea has a great location, as a peninsula, it has tremendous potential as a hub to reach so much of Asia. World-class infrastructure, not just logistics and transportation, but digitally, it’s got such a highly educated workforce. And the work culture here is such a culture of diligence and efficiency. Deeper than that though, Korea has this unique characteristic of momentum, once Korea is committed to something, the speed of movement, the rapidity with which it can develop in a direction is unbeatable. It really has so many characteristics that an international organization would look for as a base of operations.”
Given all of the changes mentioned above, it is surprising that many of the challenges that overseas organizations face coming into Korea have not really changed over the years. All market entrants have assumptions on how a business should operate, how deals should be done, stakeholders managed, and results reviewed. In most instances new market entrants have to relearn these when entering the Korean market.
The way that Korean companies and governments budget, plan and manage is unique. On an individual level, meeting with a Korean partner involves a different skill sets and assumptions. Does my plan help my Korean partner’s individual career goal? What will his peers think of him working with me? These questions are often as important as whether the deal makes objective sense as will be mutually profitable.
Peter and Penelope have spent a lifetime learning how to create mutual value in Korea. Even as Korea moves faster and faster along the path to a fully-digitalized economy, the basic human connection skills they offer will continue to underpin all business encounters.
Thanks to the KBLA Community
This episode is our 100th. We would like to thank all of our sponsors, The Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, The Innovation Center Denmark Seoul Office and Eastpoint Partners . We would also like to thank those companies that have been with KBLA since the beginning and are key to our survival and growth: Lee & Ko, Edge Communications, Insight Communications Consultants, Shin & Kim, InterCultural Communications, and Orang&Orang