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Business owner strives to help others get their start

SEARCHING FOR CULTURE DESIGNERS: 22

July 16,2016
“Korea’s youth can’t just keep complaining about their situation,” said Kim Yun-kyu, 29, founder of Sell Our Passion. “The reality won’t change unless we act.” [KIM CHUN-SIK]
On a hot day in June, the smell of roasted potatoes, pork and chicken seeps from a narrow alley in Yongsan District in central Seoul, where 11 restaurants lie hidden and adorned with ludicrous slogans.

“Would you rather buy a potato or potato couch with me?” reads one banner outside a french-fry restaurant.

Another banner outside a chicken restaurant reads, “Chicken Sauna.”

When the reporter stepped into one of the restaurants, the staffs were busy preparing to greet guests. Most of the staff, unlike typical Korean restaurants run by middle-aged ladies, looked to be in their 20s and 30s.

All the restaurants located at the end of alley are affiliated with one business, Sell Our Passion, which educates and supports young people who want to start their own business in the future. The people working in the restaurants were either employees or trainees of the business.

“Our restaurants not only sell food, but also educate people on how to start businesses and help them become successful entrepreneurs,” said Kim Yun-kyu, 29, the founder of Sell Our Passion.

A total of 36 people work for the business and their average age is 26. The workers are different from typical young part-time restaurant employees.

To Kim, they are “future business partners.”

“Sell Our Passion is a business that is not solely run by me but by me and my partners,” said Kim.

Kim has run some 80 training programs for people who aspire to become entrepreneurs and about 300 have taken the program so far.

People in the program become official restaurant employees after they pass their internship, which takes about 10 weeks to complete.

About 10 restaurants have been opened by people who worked for and were educated by Kim. Two of them even invested in Kim’s business.

When asked why Kim decided to offer his business know-how to potential competitors, he said, “I once wasted my entire rent while trying to start a business when I was in university. I didn’t want other people to go through the same trial and error that I did.”

It is because of his ceaseless endeavors that the place occupied by restaurants affiliated with his business is called “Passion Island” by locals. The place also holds a “Passion Market” every other Saturday.

“The market has become a local festival,” said Kim proudly. “Some 5,000 people come to this small alley.”

Kim’s next target is the global market.

“In the latter half of the year the business will be launching restaurants in Indonesia and the United States that sell cup rice, which is exclusively sold in Korea,” said Kim, referring to fried rice or rice mixed with various vegetables, meat and sauces and then sold in paper bowls.

“By doing so, I want to create jobs for young people and introduce Korean food to the world.”

BY YUN SUK-MAN, KIM NA-HAN [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]


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