Overseas companies get K-pop help

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Overseas companies get K-pop help

The state-run trade authority yesterday announced a marketing strategy featuring K-pop to help boost sales at small and midsize Korean companies based overseas.

Even with the vast popularity of Hallyu, or Korean Wave, in Southeast Asia and South America, small and midsize businesses based there have not been benefiting from the trend.

The Korea Trade Promotion Agency (Kotra) yesterday signed an agreement with 10 entertainment agencies, including SM, JYP and Jellyfish Entertainment, to hold regular events worldwide to promote Korean products.

“The government would like to lead economic Hallyu in a new direction by closely working with leaders of cultural Hallyu,” said Hwang Byung-soh, director of trade promotion at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

“Some overseas markets have an image that Korean companies are there just to make money, but we would like to change it to a more positive image, which would eventually help both the companies and communities they are based in.”

The initiative started last year when YG Entertainment’s 2NE1 participated in Kotra’s Hallyu exhibition in London to collaborate with LS Networks in donating sneakers to British war veterans who fought during the 1950-53 Korean War. LS Networks produces the sneakers brand Prospecs, which are sold at London’s Harrods department store.

“Because they are not as big of a name as Samsung Electronics, most Korean companies in other countries usually have to start small and slowly build trust in business relationships and product quality,” Hwang said. “This project will help businesses break the ice with local buyers.”

Kotra plans to expand the program to involve K-pop stars in the process of developing products, though Hwang said that the ministry does not yet have data showing improved sales at overseas companies that use K-pop stars to promote their goods.

Kotra has organized marketing events in the second half of this year in China, Brazil, Vietnam and Myanmar. Singer and actor Seo In-guk and idol group VIXX will join Kotra’s Hallyu exhibition next month in Brazil. Seo and VIXX will donate football equipment, produced by Brazil-based Korean manufacturer Zaicro, to a local youth football team.

This will also help entertainers improve their image by traveling abroad and donating products from small companies as a way to give back to society.

CEOs of Kotra and its fellow government trade agency, the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation, agreed to a memorandum of understanding yesterday to help Korea-based small companies with annual exports of less than $50,000. The MoU will give free marketing and financial consulting to the companies, as well as insurance discounts.

BY kim ji-yoon [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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