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    How did Trump Win the Presidency?: By Thinking Like a Negotiator (Lessons

    November 18th, 2016  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

     trump-asia-powerpnt_2016-11-11_13-15-36
     
    In ancient Greece—the genesis of Western civilization and thinking—the Greek goddess Athena was known to be the securer of “victory.” She also awarded the dealmakers that brought forth victory. In Oresteia, the Greek goddess Athena proclaims, “I admire…the eyes of persuasion.”
     
    Viewed from an apolitical lens, the Greek goddess would have certainly admired the persuasion, tactics and strategy underlying Donald Trump’s US presidential bid that brought forth an unlikely victory.
     
    To Trump’s supporters, comprised of a diverse voting group including both rich and poor, his victory was an affirmation of Trump’s call to arms against political elites and the perception that America could be great again. To Trump’s critics, his victory was a complete and utter shock that seemed to defy all odds.
     
    To some political pundits and so-called political experts—many who belittled, criticized and grossly underestimated Trump at every turn–it became clear that they needed an update. Their expert predictions and assumptions were outdated and antiquated, advising that future elections should be similar to past elections in terms of tone and rhetoric.
     
    But meanwhile, while these so-called experts were sleeping, the world became flat and hyper-connected due to unforeseen technological tectonic shifts. In the advent of today’s “super-social” era–in which communication is dominated by 140 crafted characters through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook—such weathered expert experience ultimately translated into a net liability, rather than an asset.
     
    So how did Trump win the US presidency? By thinking like a negotiator.
     
    This then begs the question: What exactly is a “negotiation”? According to the Harvard Negotiation Project, a negotiation is defined as “Getting what you want.”
     
    Trump is a self-proclaimed negotiator and dealmaker. He has authored books such as The Art of the Deal, while proclaiming in a recent interview that, “Everything’s negotiable.”
     
    As such, during Trump’s campaign, he was in constant negotiations—with the Republican Party, Democratic Party, the media, and the voting public—to get what he wanted. At each level, Trump was waging a “David versus Goliath” negotiation war, from his purview, in which each and all of these “negotiation opponents” were, at one point or another, against him.
     
    Think for a moment what Trump’s victory, a high-stakes negotiation game, entailed. Since 1988, apart from the current president, the political landscape was dominated by just two family names: Clinton and Bush.
     
    Trump—a political newcomer, but not one with negotiation naiveté–slayed both family dragons in the course of a single election cycle.
     
    Should you be worried or concerned that Trump is now President-elect Trump, given his tone and rhetoric on the campaign trail?
     
    Again, some so-called experts will provide a simple binary analysis for simple minds—a flat yes, that he is the precipice to a new era of an isolated America (rather than a continued era of Pax Americana)—or a flat no, that he will be the savior that America needs in a dangerous world.
     
    But a third, more nuanced and honest answer exists. We simply do not yet have enough information to give a credible answer. What type of information should we be waiting for then? Actual “evidence” in the form of tangible policy action once Trump is sworn in as the forty-fifth US president. Maybe Trump will be great, maybe not. But much like a courtroom, you would not want a judgment about you made against you before the evidence has been thoughtfully and impartially adjudicated.
     
    And what about all of Trump’s seemingly fiery campaign statements? As savvy negotiators know, first statements are often mere first offers.
     
    Trump views everything through a negotiation and dealmaking lens. This will have implications in the US and other regions, including in Asia.
     
    How will a President Trump deal with North Korea’s regime? It looks like Trump would not be completely adverse to face-to-face negotiations with Kim Jong-Un. After all, in any negotiation, to get what you want, you have to know what the other side wants.
     
    How will a President Trump deal with Beijing when it comes to trade? Hopefully, a President Trump will understand the basic negotiation lesson in a tit-for-tat (TFT) negotiation, which often leads to a lose-lose scenario involving mutually-assured destruction (MAD). In such a prisoner’s dilemma scenario, it often benefits both sides to cooperate rather than compete.
     
    As former US President John F. Kennedy famously proclaimed, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

     
     
     
    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.
     
     
     

    Does South Korea Have the Smartest Kids?: 5 Things to Consider

    October 3rd, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

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    1. Greed to be degreed?: Korea has the highest percentage of young people with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a survey published last month. Ninety-eight percent of Koreans aged 25-34 graduated from high school as of 2011 while 64 percent graduated from college or graduate school, according to the OECD. It was the fifth straight year South Korea topped the list in terms of high school education and the fourth consecutive year it ranked No. 1 in college education.
     
    Analysis: South Korea has transformed from a country that was undereducated to a modern economy that is arguably overeducated—meaning that the country’s supply of highly educated graduates greatly outnumbers the demand for such graduates (from a very narrow bandwidth of domestic South Korean firms, namely the large conglomerates, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG, to name a few).
     
    2. Korean education isn’t cheap, but is it worth it?: Such achievements at the national level comes with costs and negative socio-economic externalities. Annual tuitions at Korean universities in 2011 averaged $5,395, the fourth highest among 25 countries, following Ireland at $6,450, Chile’s $5,885 and the United States’ $5,402. The survey found that tuition rates at South Korea’s private universities were the fourth-highest, trailing only behind the U.S., Slovenia and Australia.
     
    Analysis: Given South Korea’s GDP per capita, and factoring in purchasing power parity (PPP), the country’s tuition rates are considerably high. But education is an investment. Thus, so long as one’s education investment has a reasonable return on investment (ROI), then such investment (and thus relatively high tuition rates) should be reasonable. However, this is an open question, given the current job market in which the graduation employment rates of most of South Korea’s top universities are in the 60-70 percentile range.
     
    3. Going private for basic education: Private Cram School spending is a near necessity: Under Korea’s fiercely competitive education system, Koreans have become used to paying for supplementary education from private cram schools, or hagwon.
     
    The survey showed that Korea spent 7.6 percent of its gross domestic product on education as of 2010, the third-highest following Denmark at 8 percent and Iceland at 7.7 percent. But it was top of the list in terms of private spending on public education (as opposed to government spending), which accounted for 2.8 percent of its gross domestic product, three times higher than the OECD average of 0.9 percent.
     
    Analysis: The near necessity to need financing for private education above and beyond what is needed for public education sends some worrisome signals. First, that the public education K-12 structure is not working properly (i.e., not pareto efficient). Second, that the need for such additional private education will increase South Korea’s already prevalent gap between the haves and have-nots. Economically, this is non-optimal since all of South Korea’s human capital is not being put to good use. And socially, such effect can lead to a feeling of detachment and even backlash, in which a sense by many among the nation’s youth of the “Korean dream” may be just that—a mere dream.
     
    4. Higher education meets higher tuition: There has been growing public concern over high college tuitions, prompting the government to spend more on scholarships and restrict yearly increases in tuition rate to 4.7 percent, down from a previous restriction of 5 percent in 2012.
     
    Analysis: Scholarships for students are a fairly recent phenomenon in South Korea, compared to places like the U.S., UK, and Australia (based on the traditional collectivist mindset that one’s family should shoulder such responsibility). But with ever-increasing tuition rates, the need for greater scholarships are much needed.
     
    5. More education with less need for financing: One of President Park Geun-hye’s presidential campaign pledges was to reduce college tuition by 50 percent, while the Education Ministry pledged to be able to give scholarships to all students in the bottom 30 percent.
     
    Analysis: More funding should be allocated towards this end. This is especially the case since South Korea’s greatest asset is its people (i.e., thus, greater human capital investment would prove beneficial, particularly in a country with a shrinking population and exceedingly low birth rates). However, such pledge was during President Park’s pre-presidency campaign efforts. So it is yet to be seen whether such words will culminate into action. If so, it will be welcomed by many.
     
    If you or your organization is interested in working with us, please contact Asia-Pacific Global Research here.
     
     
     

    Socrates v. Confucius: How Asians and Westerners Use a Different “Negotiator Lens”

    August 27th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Socrates v. Confucius: What a Difference a Culture Makes–and How it Shapes East-West Negotiators
     
    The Western (Socratic-based) Negotiator Lens:
     
    Many negotiators from the West were raised in an individual-based environment, which is relatively “flat” compared to many collective-based “vertical” social structures. Strange from the perspective of many Confucian, collective-based societies, many parents from individual-based groups will indirectly, and often unknowingly, begin the informal negotiation training from a very early age. This reflects the Socratic approach to teaching, which is much more prevalent in individual-based societies than collective-based societies, and is reinforced by a barrage of assignments, which tests the ability to question, such as the requirement to write critical essays. Such tasks require the person (and future negotiator) to think independently, question assumptions, and then come to a personal conclusion based on the evidence. In other words, a person in this type of Socratic-based “flat” environment reinforces the use of rationality over emotion.
     
    The Asian (Confucian-based) Negotiator Lens:
     
    in many collective-based negotiation settings, this rationale approach is at times seen as a cold, calculating and detached process, counter to their basic instincts and training. In stark contrast, the typical collective-based individual is raised by parents typically (but not always) set in a strict vertically based structure, in which dominant parent figures effectively lay down the “law of the land” in the household. The collective-based future negotiator, as a young person, is usually told, not asked, what to do. This goes from small things like what to eat, to bigger-ticket items like what to study, who to date, and when to go home. If the child in such Confucian-based structure questions what the parent says, this is interpreted as a very egregious act.
     
    Such an act is viewed as one of the more shameful in a collective-based society, in which obedience and trust is a virtue, while being branded with a betrayal mark is tantamount to a “scarlet letter” and later societal banishment (known in Korean society as wangda (왕따) and in Japanese society as murahachibu). The collective-based Confucius friendship structure is primarily also a top-down, command-and-control structure based on those with seniority (선배, sunbae in Korean, senpai in Japanese) and those who are junior (후배, hubae in Korean, kohai in Japanese). The only rare exception to the general rule is with the small band of friends in the same class year (동갑, dong-gahp in Korean). In short, the collective-based social, academic, and working structures share one commonality – they are all vertically-based top-down operating structures. This is a very important missing factor in terms of why many collective-based groups are not instinctual negotiators. For this reason, yes of course, the collective-based negotiators can negotiate, but they find it unusual and awkward, and often do it grudgingly.
     
     
     
     
    This blog is a partial excerpt from the published academic article, Mitigating Partisan Perceptions between Individual and Collective-based Groups (by Jasper Kim, International Studies Review, 2009)
     

    How Asians Say “No” (without saying it): Top 5 Indirect “No’s”

    May 31st, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    East-West cultural differences exist that may make it confusing as to when a reply from those in Korea, China, and Japan is a “no” or “yes.”
     
    In the West (a low context environment, in which more focus is placed on the communication itself than the communication context), a premium is placed on clarity, which in turn, means brevity and direct communication. But in the East (a high context environment, in which more focus is placed on the context of the communication than the communication itself), communication can be more indirect, which may be understood by others from the same region, but may be complex and difficult to understand for those from the West.
     
    Below are the top 5 communication terms that mean “no” without the term itself actually being spoken or written (due to the high contextual environment for those in the East). And conversely, these same terms can be used to say “no” by Western individuals to their Eastern counterparts in a very localized manner, which may signal that the Western counterpart is localized, polite, and well-informed (all virtuous traits in Asia):
     
    1. “Maybe later” – from the West’s eyes, if interpreted literally (as one would do in a low context environment in the West), the term “Maybe later” could mean that a “yes” might be right around the corner, after some internal discussion. But do not be confused, in an Eastern context, generally “maybe later” means “no.” So why not just say “no?” The main reason is to be polite (in a society where appearing impolite is a sign of being uncultured and/or uneducated; two strongly negative labels in Asia relative to in the West)
     
    2. “I/We will think about it” – again, from a Western frame of mind taking this term literally, a statement such as this may give hope to the Western individual/entity that more consideration is needed by the Asian team member/team. But generally this is not the case.
     
    3. “I/We don’t know” – The Western framework based on Cartesian logic and logical deduction places a premium on getting a definitive “yes” or “no.” This is not so different in Asia. At the same time, a gray zone between yes and no tends to be more tolerated in Asia than in the West. But even more, a statement such as “We don’t know” in response to a direct query that would normally require a definitive yes or no is best interpreted as a “no.” Again, this is for face-saving measure.
     
    4. Silence – Those in the West generally feel extremely uncomfortable with silence, especially in a group or business setting. This is not so much the case in Asia. Silence, on the contrary, can actually be considered a virtue in Asia. Having said this, silence or a non-reply can also be interpreted to mean a “no.” The Western counterpart should also look at the facial expression when confronted by such silence in response to a query that would normally require a definitive response.
     
    5. “That would be impossible” (or a direct “no”) – of the list, the use of the term “impossible” is the most direct indication by those in Asia of a “no.” Why don’t those in Asia use the term “not possible” since “impossible” seems so ironically definitive? The short answer is that “impossible” is based on a literal translation of Chinese characters (a negative vowel to use a rough Western equivalent). Also, those in Asia do not always share the same notion that “nothing is impossible” given the right level of knowledge, aptitude, and creativity.
     
    The above top 5 list generally apply to a primarily domestic Asian audience (not those who have spent substantial time with Westerners or time overseas; if this is the case, then the above rules would be less applicable). The above list also, by virtue of its brevity, explains the concepts in broad brushstrokes and terms, which in many instances will have exceptions.

     

     

     

     

    South Korea’s “lost generation” of youth? – 6 socio-economic challenges

    January 29th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    *(Q&A below is taken from a recent interview with a local South Korean broadcaster as of the date of this upload)
     
    1) Last year there were over 300,000 Korean college graduates, but only 18,500 jobs for them, what sort of impact is this having on the younger generation?
     
    It’s a case study where supply vastly trumps demand. So it’s a big hit economically for the younger generation trying to secure employment after graduation. This is especially impactful since typically it’s the first job after graduation that can often define a person’s career trajectory. What this statistic does not show is the “invisible” overlapping demand for the same types of jobs with the same bandwidth of companies and organizations. In Korea, there’s a singular mindset that being “successful” in terms of securing a job means working for one of the large conglomerates (Hyundai, Samsung, LG) or to become a government official (공무원). Since many young people still live with their parents until marriage or other event, this means that they are not as “economically squeezed” as compared to those seeking jobs in the US and Europe where independence is considered a relatively greater virtue.
     
    2) Due to the difficulty of securing entry-level jobs, many young South Koreans are giving up their dreams, taking low-paying temporary jobs and postponing marriage, how is this going to reshape the economy?
     
    South Korea’s youth employment challenges have led to a “lost generation” – which accounts for a sizable portion of the nation’s economy. Take the statistic that South Korea’s youth unemployment (those seeking jobs between the ages of 15-29) has more or less hovered around the 7% mark, nearly twice the number for the general population. What’s also interesting is the unique Korean cultural aspect to this equation, that many of the most qualified talent in Korea are not actively engaged in the labor markets since they are in “near constant test preparation” as a default, career in and of itself. This comes in the form of taking several years from employment to study and sit for either a company-specific or government entrance exam. As an example, the former Korean bar exam was notorious for its excessively low passage rate of 3-5%. Even successful bar exam passers had to sit for the bar three years on average. Japan has a similar “lost generation” phenomenon. In short, for contemporary South Korea, its youth will earn less, in a more volatile and changing job market, which will dramatically change South Korea’s socio-economic landscape in the near future.
     
    3) Many are unable to save up for their own house, let alone saving for retirement, how can the Korea, government continue to support an aging population which will no longer be able to support itself?
     
    Our Group has seen clear evidence that South Korea is one of the world’s fastest aging societies. Soon the demographic structure will be top heavy with senior citizens who are seeking public funds rather than contributing to them. As a result, the country will be hard pressed to figure out how to pay for such public benefits with a shrinking workforce, low fertility rates, and a super aging society. Ultimately, if no other solution is found, South Korea will simply have to go into debt (through the issuance of Korean government bonds in the open markets). But such funding scheme will only delay, not resolve, its fiscal woes.
     
    4) Students who study overseas are finding success in starting-up their own businesses abroad, is this a sustainable direction for the younger generation to follow?
     
    This would in essence mean a net outflow of South Korea’s best and brightest offshore. Many countries, including India and China, have benefitted from so-called “boomerang” talent–those who left the country to live and/or for education, but then return for one reason or another. The challenge in South Korea is that its culture is not a “risk taking” culture, rather, it’s defensively postured for secure “permanent” jobs with the largest corporations or the public sector. But having a critical threshold amount of boomerang talent could change this pivot towards a more offensively postured one that is more geared to making modern day South Korea a start up nation similar to the US and Israel (to name just a few).
     
    5) Considering South Korea’s e-commerce is the sixth largest in the world, why is the market so difficult for domestic start-ups to penetrate?
     
    The main, but not only, factor is the lack of true venture capital (VC) firms onshore in South Korea today. VCs exist in name, but in substance, the true “high risk, high reward” risk-taking, long-run spirit is still lacking. Also, a notable portion of start-up capital is sponsored (subsidized) through the government. As the former Harvard president and US Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, once quipped, “The government makes a terrible venture capitalist.” This is because most start-up funding is based on the mindset that the invested company must go public (IPO) as soon as possible, so that the investor can be profitable in the short run. Maybe South Korea has a different interpretation of how to create a start-up nation, but our Group’s view is that the VC/angel investor must be patient and adhere to the “99 strike-outs for 1 home run” investment mindset.
     
    6) Are the economic difficulties for the younger generation, which was once the backbone of the Korean economy, likely to continue or is there hope ahead?
     
    Nobody knows for sure. But in a slow growth era, where governments are highly indebted, it looks like economic difficulties for the younger generation will continue. The one silver lining is that South Korea is highly tech-savvy, at least in terms of the products and physical landscape of Seoul. Further, its mindset, the nation’s operating system, has a chance to convert from the “Chosun Corea” mindset to the globally competitive “Global Korea” mindset, as more and more of the nation’s youth live, study, and work overseas and bring such perspectives back to their native ecosystem.
     
     

    South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye: 4 Factors

    December 20th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1. Foreign Affairs Policies and Impact:
     
    President Park Geun-hye’s first post-election policy speech this morning focused on North Korea. In effect, her North Korean policy will be one of “semi-Sunshine Policy,” or put another way, “Sunshine Policy lite.” That is, her administration will not completely shun the North, nor will it completely try to embrace the North. Rather, Park’s policy will be one of moderation, most likely with a moderate left pivot. The spirit of such policy will be economic aid and other incentives in a “something for something” quid pro quo manner, rather than “something for nothing” transactions in the form of purely ceremonial and costly summit meetings. The Park administration believes the Sunshine Policy was relatively ineffective in bringing about sustainable positive results, especially in light of the need to boost South Korea’s own economy and people in a post-subprime crisis recovery period.
     
    2. Economic Policies and Impact:
     
    President Park Geun-hye’s economic policies will focus on widening the country’s “social safety net” while rolling out policies related to “economic democratization.” Regarding the social safety net issue, this will include such policy platforms as increasing job security, expanding affordable housing options, boosting job security (especially for non-permanent contract employees), and debt forgiveness. Regarding economic democratization issues, this will include working “with” (rather than against) the nation’s large family-owned conglomerates–known as “chaebol”–relating to cross-share holdings and forging greater cooperation with SMEs. Thus, shareholders of such firms as Samsung, LG, SK, and Hyundai, should be relatively relieved with Park’s election, rather than Moon’s, given the more friendly (or at the very least, relatively less hostile) policy stance towards the chaebol.
     
    At the same time, Park Geun-hye understands that the Korean economy is in essence a “one pillar” economy that is highly (some would say, overly-) dependent on exports. In total, 48% of South Korea’s GDP depends on its exports (compared to 28% and 18% for China and Japan, respectively). The proffered policy solution is the fostering of a second economic pillar in the form of a “creative economy”–basically the nation’s IT and biotech industries–that may better cater to South Korea’s innate competitive advantages in such areas. This will also help create jobs and boost productivity and production by SMEs, which account for up to 94% of South Korea’s total labor force (compared to just 6% by the largest chaebol).
     
    3. The Female Factor:
     
    Will Park’s gender as South Korea’s first female president play a key role? The answer is yes and no. Yes, in terms of creating a demonstration effect for half of the nation’s population. This is especially notable given that South Korea has one of the lowest female workforce participation rates among OECD member countries. In essence, although many Korean women begin to work in their 20s, a disproportionately large number of women drop out of the workforce, many due to societal pressure to get married and raise, not just bear, children, to get the family’s children into “top schools” (stemming in part from traditional Confucian/Korean values and norms). This links to many other related issues, such as the lack of day care facilities and hyper competition within the country’s educational landscape (highly dependent on attending private learning institutes outside of normal school hours).
     
    No, in the sense that president-elect Park never made her gender–being a woman–a primary campaign issue. In part, this is due to the fact that Park could not have brought the “female factor” issue to the forefront since most of her suppot base comes from “conservative” voters, e.g., older Korean males. Thus, South Korea is entering into a “post-patriarchal” political era, in which one’s gender to assume the highest office in the land–the presidency and the Blue House–does not have to be linked to gender, similar to what was seen with former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher (who was cited as a benchmark by candidate Park) and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
     
    4. Challenges:
     
    Park won the presidency by a relatively small margin of approximately 51% to 48%. This is in contrast to the previous presidential cycle, in which the presidency was secured by a 20+% margin of victory by Lee Myung-bak. Thus, the challenge going forward will be: how to garner the support of the Korean public when just as many voters were with you as against you? Many skeptics must also be convinced that Park Geun-hye will be different enough from her father, former president Park Chung-hee, which has been a constant looming issue not just throughout Park as a political candidate, but throughout her life before seeking public office. If Park can prove to be an acute listener, who can then integrate the interests of both her supporters and non-supporters alike, her initial honeymoon period in the Blue House stands a reasonable chance of relative success.
      
    For an interview clip with National Public Radio (NPR) on president-elect Park Geun-hye’s formative years, featuring Jasper Kim of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, click HERE


    For a Bloomberg news article relating to Park and chaebols, quoting Jasper Kim, click HERE.

    ; ; 
    For a Bloomberg TV interview clip by Jasper Kim, click HERE OR VIEW BELOW.
     

     
    For an Al-Jazeera English TV interview clip, CLICK HERE OR VIEW BELOW. 

      
    For an interview clip as part of a larger CNBC TV segment aired today, see below (clip begins from about the 1 minute mark):
      

          

    Business Law: Social Co-Op Law (South Korea) – 5 Things to Know

    December 6th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) Can you explain what this new law that aims to help Korea’s social co-operatives is all about?
     
    Korea’s new social co-operative law allows certain non-profit organizations to register as social co-ops. Under Korean law, 2 types of cooperatives exist: general and social. Social co-ops operate as non-profits, in which 40% of the social co-ops business must be for the “public good.” Korea’s new law took effect on December 1, 2012.
     
    2) How does the system of operating social co-operatives work in Korea? How large of a system is it?
     
    Social co-ops is a business structure in which the entity’s employees (workers) are also its owners (as opposed to outside shareholders for public stock corporations in South Korea). The Korean government expects up to 10,000 of such new co-ops to be formed in the next 5 years, resulting in 40,000-50,000 new jobs.
     
    3) Do you believe that this law that supports social co-operatives will gradually resolve Korea’s mounting unemployment?
     
    The rise of social co-ops could only help, not hurt, the Korean economy. Social co-ops will particularly help at the bottom-up level, since most social co-ops in terms of employees and capital will be small and medium-sized firms. One socio-cultural and economic factor that represents a policy challenge is that the majority of Koreans still much prefer to work at Korea’s mega-comglomerates (chaebol), at times even forgoing employment opportunities with smaller firms in a country that still has the mindset of “bigger is better.”
     
    4) What do you think is behind government efforts to protect small and medium-sized businesses? Do you think that the government is favoring small merchants because of increased concerns created by wholesale monopoly?
     
    The current socio-political buzzword in South Korea today is “economic democratization.” One interpretation of this is redistribution of profits more towards smaller firms. This is where social co-ops and Korea’s new social co-op law can play a role. The social co-op law also provides the following for recognized social co-ops: 1) possible receipt of government benefits (subsidies) 2) can participate in government projects; and 3) avoids regulation of Korea’s fair trade law (although as small economic entities, this issue would arguably not be highly problematic). In essence, the social co-op law is one (of many) legislative efforts by the government to “flatten the economic playing field.”
     
    5) Can you give us a comparison with co-operatives in other countries? What is their agenda and how do they work? And do you think their system can be applied to Korea?
     
    The concept of co-ops has existed for years. The large US hotel chain, Best Western, and ACE Hardware are examples of certain types of existing co-ops that also represent highly recognized brands worldwide. South Korea also has existing co-ops involving a wide variety of goods and services such as chauffeur-drivers and foundations offering discounted/free lunch programs.
     
     
    The author is book editor of: Korean Business Law: The Legal Landscape and Beyond