중앙데일리

A company of firsts seeks more growth abroad

25th in a series about leading midsize firms

Feb 26,2007
Ask any college student on the street if they have ever attended YBM Sisa English schools, and the answer will probably be yes. YBM Sisa is now the undisputed giant in Korea’s English education market. It has published more than 2,000 books related to English education.
More than 1 million Koreans a year attend 130 YBM Sisa schools nationwide.
YBM Sisa started as a small publisher of English education books. Its founder, Min Young-bin, published Korea’s first English education magazine, “Sisa English,” 45 years ago. Since then, the company has claimed many “firsts” in Korea. YBM Sisa produced Korea’s first audio tapes for English education in 1970. It sponsored Korea’s first Test of English for International Communication, or Toeic, in 1982. The company also opened an English language institution with native English speakers.
In the 1990s the company experienced dramatic growth, as learning English became a must for the nation’s college students. More Koreans traveled and studied overseas. Subsequently, YBM Sisa’s sales hit the 100 billion-won ($107 million) mark for the first time in 1992. In 2003 sales topped 400 billion won.
“We think again and again about how to teach English better, and that is the key to our success,” said Min Sun-sik, chief executive of YBM Sisa and son of the founder and chairman.
When the Toeic was established as a practical English language test that became the nationwide standard, it yielded a huge financial boon for YBM Sisa. Almost 2 million Koreans applied for the test last year, and the number of applicants is expected to exceed 2 million this year. Last year, about 20 percent of YBM Sisa’s 400 billion won in annual sales derived from service fees for Toeic applicants, and a large portion of its revenue from publishing comes from Toeic prep books.
As the Korean English-language market becomes increasingly saturated, more Koreans head overseas to study English. YBM Sisa is aggressively exploring new opportunities overseas as well.
In 1997 YBM Sisa opened new language schools in the Philippines, China and Canada.
Business strategies abroad vary depending on the market. At YBM Sisa language schools in Beijing, business English is taught to Chinese students, while Chinese is taught to Korean businessmen working there. YBM Sisa schools in the Philippines target Korean students studying there.
“Our English education system is quite competitive in the Southeast Asian market,” said Kang Ho-young, executive director of YBM Sisa. “We will first gain brand recognition with our language schools, then we will publish more English test prep books and online education programs.”
The company, encouraged by success in other countries, is expected to open new schools in Vietnam next year.


By Lim Mi-jin JoongAng Ilbo [hawon@joongang.co.kr]


dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장