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∙ Current position: Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
∙ Ph.D. dissertation Neighborhood Shopkeepers in Contemporary South Korea: Household, Work, and Locality available online (E-Thesis publications a the University of Helsinki). For printed copies, please contact me by e-mail.
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Thursday, August 05, 2004

(Small businesses) Entrepreneurial chicken place keeper

Have been writing some around "entrepreneurship" of the small businesses in Korea; for the neighborhood shops that my research is about, this concept is hardly applicable, as "innovation" is very much lacking. This doesn't need to be only a personal trait, but the not so advantageous environment doesn't encourage for that either. And there is little incentive to invest much in the business either; make a decent living, send the children to a hagwon and university, buy property in the form of real estate or land if there's money left.

Actually the innovative aspect in the "success story" introduced in the linked article is not that prominent, but there is certain entrepreneurial decisiveness.

Hankyoreh tells of an entrepreneurial chicken restaurateur, for whom the bird flu epidemic became a chance. He opened the place right after the end of the epidemic despite of virtually everyone's opposition. He was able to get a shop space cheap from a good location as he took over a shop which was closed because of the bird flu. He took great care in choosing the franchise company; the number of chicken franchises from which to choose must be innumerable.

Opening the 9-pyeong (30 sq.m) chicken restaurant cost 67 million W (45 000 €); franchise fee 27 million, taking over the shop equipment (insubi) 20 mil, shop guarantee 20 mil. [No "premium money" kwôlligûm? He was a lucky guy.] Now 6 months after the opening, average daily sales are 400 000, or 12 million a month. Expenses: raw materials 6 mil, rent 700 000, labor costs 1 mil, advertisement 500 000, electricity 200 000; ==> monthly net profit 3.6 million.

So we learn that personnel costs are 1 mil W a month, which should mean there's one person besides the sajang and most likely his wife.
(Update. I base my assumption of one person besides the keeper and his wife on the picture accompanying the article, in which there are two women. I'm just thinking it's likely that they are the wife and the kitchen woman [chubang ajumma]. For a kitchen woman, 1 mil W doesn't seem to be an unreasonable monthly pay, looking at the personnel ads seeking 주방아줌마 in the net.)

The accompanying article by a business opening consultant emphasizes the need to be innovative in developing new menus and responding to the changing tastes of the customers, but those who belong to a franchise should have quite bound hands in relation to the main company - and that's where the importance of choosing the company is.
The chicken restaurant business is one of the most competed, as well as one of the most popular branches of business for first-timers. Food preparing can be learned quickly, and due to the intensive competition between franchises the conditions for the individual shopkeepers should not be that bad (the last is just my own guessing). And people eat chicken.

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