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[Herald Interview] Seoul to act as bridge between beauty biz and world: agency

Agency under Seoul city government aims to nurture foreign marketers to bridge SMEs and overseas market

Han Dong-yeol, Seoul Business Agency's Chairman of the Board (Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)
Han Dong-yeol, Seoul Business Agency's Chairman of the Board (Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)
Seoul aims to become a global hub for beauty and cosmetic businesses by providing full support to small- and medium-sized companies eyeing opportunities to enter overseas markets, a business support organization run by the municipal government said.

The Seoul Business Agency, run by the Seoul city government, plans to hold a weeklong event this year with a focus on the beauty and cosmetic industries, according to Han Dong-yeol, the organization's chairman of the board.

“Especially this year, we will be hosting Beauty Trade Week, in which we will manage diverse export-related programs such as export counseling and live commerce. There will also be a conference for Seoul-based SMEs to advertise K-beauty products to foreign buyers, thus giving practical sales support,” Han said in an interview with The Korea Herald. To promote the exhibition, the agency will collaborate with other related institutions such as the Korea Cosmetics Export Association and Beauty Net Korea, he added.

The agency also plans to offer job opportunities to foreign residents here, so that they can work as marketers bridging local companies to overseas markets.

“We are also trying to nurture foreigners residing in the country who have a great understanding of the Korean culture and language as global marketers in order to form a network that will help domestic SMEs export their products to diverse countries,” Han said.

SBA also provides a one-stop support to foreign entrepreneurs who live in the country by offering offices, mid-to-small size business-to-business matching, and professional consulting.

There is growing competition between major cities in Asia to become the next regional financial center, replacing Hong Kong. To this end, SBA also operates Invest Seoul, a foreign investment promotion agency. Han believes that the agency will play a role in attracting foreign finance companies to make Seoul a bridgehead for foreign direct investment.

“We are operating an ‘FDI all in one package’ program that includes expert counseling and labor, law, tax related assistance for foreign investment companies, to fully support those that want to establish a foreign branch in Seoul or expand their business in the city,” Han said.

Amid the global popularity of Hallyu -- or Korean wave -- content, SBA is also supporting diverse content related industries such as animation, webtoons, games, and “me-media,” as it sees the growth possibility in Korean content and its value.

“We are not only supporting companies, but also attracting investment in content and commercializing these contents. For instance, our first fund for content was invested in Bluehole, the developer of the game ‘Battleground,’ and raised it to be a representative company of the game industry,” he said.

“We will always continue to do our best to support R&D and nurture the contents industry and retail sector. We will also support the formation of major industrial clusters in Seoul to enhance Seoul’s competitiveness among other cities around the world,” Han said.

Han was previously the chairman of LUXMIA, an IT company, and the chairman of D&TG Corporation, a real estate management company. He was inaugurated as the chairman of board of SBA last November.

By Hong Yoo (