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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

creating value: business money to university lecture hall

There is this Korean saying which have been repeated on these pages already several times, that "not even a dog carries merchant's money" (장삿돈 개도 안 물어 간다), which I'm reminded of when reading the "news", or better, feel-good story or infomercial that Mrs Kim Sun-jin, the owner of several restaurant franchise chains, is having a lecture hall in Sookmyung University named after her. Chosun Ilbo tells that Mrs Kim Sun-jin, who owns franchise chains such as Nolbu Possam, Nolbu Pudaetchigae and Nolbujip hangarigalbi with combined 560 franchise shops in the country, started by opening a 5-pyeong (17 sq.m) restaurant 19 years ago with no more education than grammar school, which Chosun sees necessary to mention. But that only makes a nice contrast to her getting a lecture room named after her for donating 100 million W (85 000€) to Sookmyung University; a very good and also a very Korean way to turn merchant's money (장삿돈) into another value.

Despite of reports that the oversupply and bad and unprepared managed of franchise shops has been one reason to the growth of low-income self-employment (Donga Ilbo, Nov 30, 2004; the whole series of reports on the dire conditions of small businesses in Donga), it appears that Mrs Kim's Nolbu chain has been adequately managed - if the success of the proprietor is to be judged. It is nevertheless interesting to think of the irony that much of Nolbu Possam's success is likely due to the misfortune of those who lost their livelihood in other areas and chose more or less involuntary to try their hands in restaurant keeping, for which franchises offer an easier option.

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