Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Korea: Robust, Hi-tech, Export-oriented

If you look at my Blogger Profile to the right on this page, you will see those words, written a year ago as I began this blog and planned my sojourn here. A year later, it's more true than ever, as stories out today in Korea's leading paps, the Korea Times and The Korea Herald, report:

  • between them, Samsung Electronics and Hynix (formerly Hyundai Electronics) captured 61% of the worldwide DRAM market, up from 48% a year ago
  • the world's two biggest LCD makers, Samsung and LG Display, also captured 55.4 percent of the global flat-screen market in the second quarter, up from 44.5 percent a year ago
  • Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors saw their combined market share in the United States reach 7.54 percent as of June, more than a 3 percentage point gain from 4.41 percent in December
  • in the European market, their market share hit 3.8 percent in the first half of 2009, a 0.7 percentage point increase from 3.1 percent recorded during the same period last year. Data showed a rebound from 2007, when their market share in the European market contracted to 3.2 percent from 3.6 percent in 2006
  • on the back of brisk sales of high-end phones, Korean phone makers LG and Samsung also controlled 30.6 percent of the world market ― the first time domestic brands have accounted for more than 30 percent. The increase is a 6 percentage point rise from 24.7 percent from a year ago, and came as Nokia, Sony-Ericsson and Motorola lost market share
  • I got a raise of 100,000 W per month for next year

These companies are chaebol, family-controlled multinational corporations that rose during the 1960s as part of strongman-president Park Chung-hee's vision for bringing Korea's economy into the industrial era. Certain companies received preferential treatment from government and banks until what they call here "The IMF", AKA the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The weaknesses of the system were thrown into sharp focus, and theoretically the chaebol have emerged leaner and meaner as a result.

Trivia: LG does not stand for Life is Good, but for Lucky GoldStar, a combination of the original company name, Lak Hui, and GoldStar, its electronics subsidiary formed in the late 50s, which produced Korea's first radio.


Anonymous said...

protectionisim works well in Korea. They have a large population who are fed the line that Korea and its products are best. It's been that way since pre democracy and continues now.

Tuttle said...

Protectionism, as I understand it, refers to limiting imports of foreign goods into a country. I fail to see what this has to do with my post about the apparent desirability of Korean goods in other markets.

My post was about Korea's global market reach, there was not one word about trade surplus or imbalance, either in what I wrote or in the articles referenced; while I try to publish all comments except spam, it is helpful if they are on-point.

Incidentally, you do see a fair amount of foreign products here--alot from China, just like back home!--but I will say that non-Korean cars are few and far between.

Koreans have pride in their country's manufactured products--I remember the days when "Buy American" was a proud slogan. What's wrong with that?