By Peter Corbishley
On Monday 15th January the glitterati of the Anglo-Korean business worlds were invited to network by Ambassador Cho and Mike Backhouse of Standard Chartered under the auspices of Ken Livingstone and Think London. Over 250 companies accepted invitations to an event originally scheduled to be part of Think Korea 2006, as the Korean Ambassador Dr Yoon-Je Cho reminded us. In the end 128 corporates turned up, 76 of whom were Korean. Although, apart from Sung-joo Kim CEO of the Sunjoo Group, there was a noticeable absence of women executives. Perhaps something more should be done to support businesses run by Korean Women in London?
Overlooking Tower Bridge and the Tower of London Ken’s welcoming speech could not resist referring to the then Conservative government’s failure to bid for the 1988 Olympics which went to Seoul. Ken commented that 20,000 (only?) Koreans live in London with 120 (only?) Korean run businesses. 89,000 Koreans visited London last year, and Korean students are the fourth largest community in Further and Higher Education in London. Further 40% of Korean investment in Europe is in London while LG is set to join Samsung in London. Investment was said to focus on the IT and cultural industries. Standard Chartered first worked in Korea in the 1880’s and has now invested heavily in Korea First Bank stealing a mile over Citibank, but perhaps also providing a useful launching point for entry into China. In Korea 2007 is Think UK, but all present can share the hope that the Korean presence in London doubles in size before the 2012 Olympics.