[Letters] Hansang: Korea’s global engine for prosperityRegardless of the period, networks of ethnic groups are considered to play a crucial role in the rise and fall of the people. As globalization accelerates, networks of people all over the world are becoming the biggest asset of the country. The importance of ethnic networks is obvious in business. In December 2009, Yazhou Zhoukan, of an international affairs newsweekly based out of Hong Kong, reported that the aggregated market capitalization of 1,000 major Chinese-owned businesses around the world was 5.46 trillion dollars as of July 1, 2009, and the total net profit was 202.3 billion dollars as of the end of 2008. Chinese merchants have created the pan-Chinese economic bloc based on solid unity and cooperation and are considered the biggest contributor to the economic growth of China.
Twenty million ethnic Indians living outside of India are spreading influence as India has entered the mainstream community of developed countries. Four out of 10 startup companies in Silicon Valley are owned by entrepreneurs with an Indian background, and one-third of engineers are also Indian. The Indians also have a solid business presence in Africa. Over 30 percent of direct foreign investments in India are made by overseas Indians, supporting the economic growth of the homeland. Along with Jewish merchants, Chinese and Indian businessmen have long been considered the most aggressive traders in the world.
Today, there are 7 million overseas Koreans residing in 176 countries around the world, and many Korean entrepreneurs and businessmen, or Hansang, have made significant accomplishments. Statistics on the exact number of international businessmen with Korean backgrounds, and the size of the total revenue, have not yet been accurately collected. Last year, 1,200 Korean entrepreneurs attended the World Korean Business Convention in Incheon, and the aggregated sum of their revenue reached about 50 trillion won. The actual asset would be far greater than the amount reported. Chinese merchants started migrating to foreign countries long before Korean diaspora began, and they boast over 3 trillion dollars in financial assets alone. The success of overseas Chinese businesses suggests the potential for Hansang.
The World Korean Business Convention brings together Korean entrepreneurs operating around the world into one network and provides a link to connect to businesses in Korea. It is an event dedicated to the network of ethnic Korean businessmen by rounding up capacities of Korean business activities in different nations. It is also a great marketplace, providing a chance for Korean businesses to display their products and for visiting entrepreneurs to buy domestic goods and services.
The 21st century is an era of infinite competition. In order for Korea to stand tall in the world and for the Korean people to make contributions to the history of mankind, Korean entrepreneurs operating in 176 countries will be the best hope for the Republic of Korea. Last week the 9th World Korean Business Convention was held in Daegu for three days. As the slogan, “The Heart of Korean Economy: Hansang,” advocates, I dream of the day when Korean businessmen at home and abroad become one, and lead the global economy through the convention.
Kwon Young-kon, Chairman of the Overseas Koreans Foundation