Former boxer enters the ring as an executive at Daewoo
After joining Daewoo, Lim Byeong-jin, 50, was one of its best salesmen in terms of sales figures. As a reward for his efforts he has now been made the director of sales for North and South Chungcheong and South Jeolla provinces. Mr. Lim manages six regional branches selling buses and trucks.
“Salesmen need to keep throwing punches. They shouldn’t try to end a game with a knockout,” Mr. Lim said.
He was a promising boxer until his mid-20s, despite starting the sport relatively late, when he was a high school senior. In 1975, he became a member of Daewoo’s amateur boxing team and won a gold medal in an Asian boxing championship in the bantamweight class. He won a silver medal in the featherweight class in the King’s Cup International Boxing Championship in 1977 and a bronze medal in the World Championships in 1979.
Mr. Lim’s life hit a turning point when Korea boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games along with the United States. Mr. Lim had to give up his goal of winning a gold medal at the Olympics; he decided to quit boxing.
Some of his colleagues turned professional, but he chose to study, majoring in physical education at Chung Ang University.
Since he was on Daewoo’s boxing team in 1990, the company offered Mr. Lim a job as a car salesman.
“In the beginning, working as a salesman seemed to be tougher than boxing. I was clumsy handling customers and lacked business knowledge. I wasn’t sure about whether I was able to do it. I was restless,” Mr. Lim said.
When he was facing difficulties, he said to himself, “I won 144 matches out of 147 matches I fought.” Thinking back to his boxing days and the way he studied an opponent’s style and practiced accordingly, Mr. Lim applied this to his career.
After studying, Mr. Lim came up with a strategy to impress not only people in his workplace but also his customers. “People dine at places with good food and service, so if they are paying tens of millions of won for a car, they will be selective about who they buy from,” Mr. Lim said.
Mr. Lim’s strategy was special. He gave away bean curd to housewives in apartment complexes, and in the winter he gave fish-shaped cakes to his customers.
After taking over his current position, he encouraged salesmen to visit car buyers five times within six months following a sale.
“I was often in fistfights when I was in middle school and gave my parents a lot of grief,” Mr. Lim said. “But my father praised me for being strong and said, ‘you and I are alike.’ Thanks to my father, I chose boxing instead of becoming a troublemaker,” Mr. Lim said.
Mr. Lim is married, with one son and one daughter.
by Kim Seung-hyun