Article About Korea Business Central in The Korea Times

Here’s an article from the August 13, 2010 issue of the Korea Times:

Website offers info on Korean businesses

Steve Bammel

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia

Trying to find information about doing business in Korea just became a bit easier, thanks to the Korea Business Central website.

The website ( is a source of information about how one can do business in Korea and build a network of contacts.

Steven S. Bammel founded the website in September 2009, with a long-time colleague Don Southerton, with the goal of creating a community for non-Koreans who are doing business in Korea and Koreans doing business with non-Koreans.

“This is a place where they can get information about how to be successful in Korean business. Being successful means understanding the Korean mindset in business,’’ he said in an interview with The Korea Times in downtown Seoul.

The website offers interviews, podcast discussions and reports on the ins and outs of doing business in Korea.

Several prominent business experts and figures have been featured as part of the Korea Business Interview Series. Amy Jackson, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, talked about the efforts made to promote American business interests in Korea. Tom Coyner, president of Soft Landing Consulting, discussed marketing strategies for the Korean consumer, while international branding expert Martin Roll spoke about how Korean companies can better promote their brands overseas.

Another section is the KBC 9.9 podcast, hosted by Daniel Lafontaine and usually joined by four other KBC members to share their thoughts on a particular topic. Korea Economic Slice is a weekly financial report written by independent analyst Robert Eberenz.

“Creating content serves as an anchor for the community. Every piece of content we have comes with a discussion forum. The discussions take the content and give it a dynamic dimension… Every time we have an interview, you can listen to it and you can also download the transcript,’’ Bammel said.

The discussion forums allow members to talk about various topics, share information, ask questions and post announcements.

While the main focus is business in Korea, Bammel understands that it is also helpful to include non-business-related topics. “Once, a former American GI, who was in Korea in 1961, contacted me about some 500 photos he had taken during his stay in Korea. He asked me if I could translate some of the Korean signs… So every week from January to May, I uploaded 10 to 20 of his photos.

“The idea is that to understand Korean business, it is good to see how far Korea has come over the last 40 to 50 years,’’ he said.

Korea Business Central has been slowly gaining ground, thanks to social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. In less than a year, it has attracted over 600 members, but Bammel hopes to hit 1,000 by the end of the year.

The members are a mix of Americans, Koreans and other foreigners living in Korea. “The most active members are the American English teachers who would like to move into business. Getting a job that does not involve teaching English is the number one priority of the active members… What I would like is to get more companies who want to enter the Korean market and learn about doing business in Korea,’’ he said.

Around 30 to 40 percent of the members are Koreans, but the level of participation is still quite low perhaps due to the language barrier. So Bammel is planning on including more Korean content, including a Korean-language podcast about doing business with foreigners.

“My goal is not for (Korea Business Central) to be just an expat community, but I’d like it to be a community where expats and Koreans can communicate,’’ he said.

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