I read with interest Peter Hall’s article on Korea (DW 24 November). I was in Korea at the beginning of the month visiting manufacturing contractors and looking at business opportunities, and I totally agree with Peter’s observations.
During the course of my trip I visited a large number of contractors and was struck by the urgency with which work is undertaken. Given that labour – as well as most other business costs – in Korea are largely the same as those of the UK, being competitive, especially with low labour costs in China and Vietnam, is very important.
This was reflected in how the companies I visited seemed to invest. Very little is spent on fancy-looking offices and administrative staff – but take a look at the production side and you see gleaming new equipment working 24 hours a day.
There is huge change happening in Korea. Moving from an agricultural society to a modern manufacturing economy in 40 years has been an amazing feat. The next step of changing from the workshop of South East Asia to international innovators and marketeers should be equally exciting to see.
Given Korea’s unique national character and pride, I see not an Asian tiger but a full-blown technically advanced international competitor coming over the horizon.