German Koreans unite for UN project

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German Koreans unite for UN project

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In the 1970s, Korean engineers and miners went to what was then West Germany seeking a better life for their families. These days, some of the children of those immigrants have ended up distinguishing themselves in their respected fields within their adopted society.
Lawyer Chung Ha-sung, 43, and architect Hong Young-ho, 42, are good examples. Mr. Chung runs the law firm Chung & Zahrt and acts as a consultant for Korean companies doing business in Frankfurt and German firms investing in Korea. He opened an online legal counseling service site, Janolaw, a few years ago, which the economic newspaper, Handelsblatt, reported would be a chance to break down barriers in the legal services market. He is also trying to make the German public more aware of Korean culture. In May 2005, he helped fund the republishing of journals written by geographer Siegfried Gente, who traveled to Korea 100 years ago.
Mr. Hong’s architecture firm, Putz & Hong, has won large projects in major cities including Berlin ― he was the only Asian to take part in the project to build a new central station there. Mr. Hong has also recently won a project to build a site for repairing subway trains.
Last year he was busy supervising the construction of the new Korean embassy building and renovating the existing residence for the Korean ambassador to Germany.
“Mr. Hong is fully aware of the construction industry in Germany and we could dispense with unnecessary construction costs due to Mr. Hong’s thorough supervision,” an embassy official said.
Although they are in different professions, Mr. Chung and Mr. Hong have been good friends for a long time. They met each other in a Korean community meeting in 1974 when the Korean community was being established in Germany. The two, who left Korea when they were in primary school, shared the difficult experience of adjusting to a new environment. Mr. Chung wanted to become a lawyer to make a contribution to society, while Mr. Hong decided to become an architect to create a pleasant environment.
After walking different professional paths for 20 years, they came together in December to win a $165 million project ― building a UN convention center in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, and managing the building for 30 years.
“All UN offices in Germany will move into the building and Koreans here are happy that the building is being constructed and run with the help of Koreans,” Mr. Hong said.


by Ryu Kwon-ha
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