Techie matchmaker: ‘Love inspires knowledge

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Techie matchmaker: ‘Love inspires knowledge


Steve Kim

“The key to my success was a relationship,” said Steve Kim, chairman of the Dream, Hope and Future Leadership Center.

Kim, who left Korea for the United States with only $2,000 made $2 billion when he came back to Korea after 30 years. When the JoongAng Ilbo asked for his secret to success, he gave this unexpected answer - “a relationship.”

Kim established Xylan, a computer networking company, in America in 1999 and returned to Korea in 2007 after he sold the company to Alcatel Enterprise for 2 billion dollars. He then established the Dream, Hope and Future Leadership Center in Seoul to sponsor youth scholarships and character education programs. Recently, he announced his new goal to “make a meeting place for a generation that’s given up courtship, marriage and childbirth.”

He named this project Dream Date.

Kim ran a trial program for Dream Date in August of last year, with roughly 30 participants, and hopes to start the project next year. “I widened my perspective and matured emotionally in a relationship myself,” said Kim.

Kim repeatedly said that it saddens him to watch younger people facing college entrance, employment and constant competition, which is probably why he traveled all over the country to emphasize the importance of leading a happy life.

The JoongAng Ilbo recently sat down with Kim.

Q. Why did you start a matchmaking project?

A. The average age of employees at my center is 27 to 28. At first, I assumed a majority of them to be dating but was surprised to find out that hardly anyone was dating. They explained to me that there aren’t many opportunities to meet anyone besides blind dates set up by friends, which they can’t ask for anymore. I thought this was a social issue, not a personal one.

Why do you emphasize relationships?

When you’re in a relationship, you need to read newspapers and books to come up with subjects for conversation. I remember buying poetry books to find poems to read to my girlfriend. Being in a relationship also teaches you conversation skills and ways to be considerate of others. No place teaches you such valuable skills, not even schools.

There are already many matchmaking companies or online matching sites. How does Dream Date differ from them?

I did research on existing matchmaking companies when I was planning the project. Most of them rate you according to your qualifications and you are matched to candidates with similar backgrounds. Yes, there are many online matching sites but they aren’t so trustworthy.

Dream Date doesn’t rate participants and there are no membership requirements. Instead, members are interviewed so that we can learn about who they are. A date coach would often help in matchmaking. There’s also a weekly party to encourage meeting that isn’t artificial.

And there is a 100,000-won ($89.60) entrance fee?

It isn’t for the purpose of profit-making. After all, Dream Date is a project that spends money out of goodwill. The entrance fee, however, is collected to incentivize people to participate.

What made you come back to Korea after 30 years?

Success in America helped me enjoy things I couldn’t have imagined. I lived in a 400 square-meter (5,381 square-foot) house in Beverly Hills, with a swimming pool, tennis court and a total of 11 bathrooms, where I held many parties. But I felt empty when everyone left after the parties. That’s when I realized money and success alone cannot make you happy.

Did you ever look back on your career as an IT entrepreneur?

I no longer have an interest in making money. Now I think more about how to spend money properly. As an entrepreneur, I have worked on a new project every time and I am doing the same for my education program and Dream Date. It’s about founding, except I am not aiming to make a profit out of it.

What’s your next plan?

I want to energize the lives of young people and share with them the wisdom to pursue a happy life. We all know that it’s a difficult society in which to be happy.

I hope to share with the youth the wisdom to pursue a happy life.


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