Ceremony celebrates Alibaba’s Korean shop

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Ceremony celebrates Alibaba’s Korean shop


Korean Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan, left, meets Jack Ma, Alibaba Group’s chairman, at the aT Center in Yangjae, southern Seoul, on Monday. Provided by the ministry

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has opened an online store for Korean products, an important channel for Korean manufacturers to access the world’s most populous consumer market.

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma and Korean Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan attended an opening ceremony for the Korean shop on Alibaba’s Tmall online retail site on Monday at the aT Center in southern Seoul, along with about 200 Korean government officials.

The new website, korea.tmall.com, will introduce not only Korean agricultural products, but also a variety of travel packages and consumer goods such as fashion and skin care products.

According to the Finance Ministry, Alibaba will provide comprehensive marketing and sales support for Korean companies doing business through the shop. At the same time, Korean authorities will search and recommend several small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) to Alibaba for the store.

“You know, in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, there are crowds of Chinese tourists buying Korean cosmetics and clothes,” said Choi in his speech at the ceremony. “I once imagined what might happen if we moved the Myeong-dong shopping street to central Beijing. Now I see the imagination can come true.”

“Currently, there are 40 or 50 Korean merchandisers registered on the Tmall platform,” said Kim Gi-hyeon, an official of the Korean International Trade Association.

“They will be the first to enter the newly launched Tmall Korean store and then new sellers will follow later. It will accept any Korean merchandisers selling consumer goods.”

Opened in 2003, Tmall is the China’s largest B2C website by sales. On Nov. 11, 2014, China’s Singles’ Day, Alibaba reported Tmall recorded sales of 180 billion won ($165 million).

Alibaba will also launch an internship program for young Koreans starting this year. Korea’s youth unemployment rate surpassed 10 percent in April.

The first three-month internships will start in early July for 20 Koreans, the Finance Ministry said in a press release Monday. The interns will work at the headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou and have opportunities to learn about the characteristics of China’s domestic market and Alibaba’s e-commerce businesses.

The Korean government aims to nurture the interns as e-commerce specialists with an emphasis on targeting Chinese consumers interested in Korean products, the Finance Ministry said.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [kim.heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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