Kang Dong-kyun is the mayor of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in South Korea where the government and the navy are currently in the process of building a new naval base. The villagers were not consulted before construction began and the project is still continuing in spite of daily protests from locals, religious groups, and international supporters including human rights and environmental organisations. Mr. Kang was arrested in 2011 for supposedly ‘obstructing business’ and detained for 90 days. Many other non-violent protesters in Gangjeong village have been put in prison by the police who are supporting the government and the construction companies rather than the local people. Recently, American film director Oliver Stone famously made a visit to Gangjeong to join in a huge peace march against the base. Many NGOs around the world are also interested in this issue. We feel that it might be of interest to AGI readers as well.
Interview conducted by Tim Holm in London.
AGI: I heard that you’ve been on a trip to Ireland for the Dublin Platform before you came to London and you will be going to Paris next, is that right?
Kang: Yes, it has been a good experience for me. I met so many different people from different places. I felt like I was a toad in a well when I was in Jeju, but now after seeing so many people and hearing all their experiences and struggles, I think my eyes were widened.
AGI: Please tell us about why you are so strongly opposed to a naval base close to your village in Jeju?
Kang: From a wider view, I think the building of a naval base on Jeju Island has an impact on everyone in the world. But the issues immediately surrounding the Jeju villagers are slightly different. We have been struggling for 7 years altogether. Some people say ‘why are you against the government project itself?’. Of course, for national security or business, it may be necessary for them to do it. But if I define what national business or government is, I believe that it should be benefiting the people who are living there and raising happiness so they can live happily on their land. Any national project should be run not only by the government but also by the people living in the country. However, the Jeju naval base is being built in complete opposition to what I just described. So if you just look at the geographical location of South Korea it is very important, linking the land and the sea, and it is surrounded by superpowers like Japan, Russia, China and America. And our government says they need a naval base on Jeju Island to defend against those superpowers. But I believe this is not only for the South Korean government; the US is behind it and they want to oppose China which is growing fast. Jeju will become a sacrifice to the superpowers if there is ever any kind of war or conflicts in that region. So the building of a naval base on Jeju is not really for national security but in fact it raises tension between China and America and could cause some conflict more easily. That is the first reason why I am against the base.
The second reason has to do with the environment in Jeju. People say that the nature in Jeju was given to us by God. There are three different UNESCO World [Natural] Heritage sites on Jeju Island – the only place in the world to have that many. Last year, the IUCN [International Union for Conservation of Nature] conference was held there, and also Jeju was selected as one of the world’s ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’ in 2011. The sea surrounding Jeju Island has also been designated as a conservation area by the Korean government. If they build a naval base there, it’s not going to end with that. If it expands, it will definitely have a great impact on the village which is only 100 meters away. They will need an air force to protect the navy. And for them to be protected, they will need an army. So they will destroy the natural environment, and it will be filled in with military-related sites. So we are against it for environmental reasons as well.
The third and most important thing is that currently the Korean government and military are talking about co-habiting with the local villagers and they are emphasising the development of the area through this construction project. But the government and navy are trying to oppress the local people and buy their land by force. Seven years ago, Gangjeong was one of the most peaceful villages in Jeju and there were no crimes in the village. But now so many crimes have been happening there. Approximately one person from every family is now a criminal. A lot of the villagers have left or will leave if this base is completed. It is affecting their livelihood because they rely on the land as farmers or on the sea as fishermen. So why are they building this naval base and for whom? That’s why we are opposing the construction.
AGI: How did the naval base project get started without the consent of the people of Gangjeong?
Kang: The project started seven years ago without us knowing. When the villagers found out, they formed a group against the project. I was the leader of that group. The naval base project was decided secretly by the government and the navy with the consent of the previous mayor of Gangjeong. So we voted for a loss of confidence in the last mayor (who was likely paid off by the government to agree with the construction) and his power was rescinded. Then the village community elected me as the new mayor. That was on the 11th of August, 2007. On the 20th of August, 95% of the villagers voted against the naval base. So that was the beginning of our struggle. Now there is about a 80/20 split between those who are against the naval base and those who support it. The supporters receive some kind of compensation from the government in order to try and convert the 80% who are still opposed to the base.
AGI: Have you tried to get any help from organisations such as the UN in regards to this problem?
Kang: Normally if you want to do any kind of major construction in South Korea, you need to get permission from the branch of the government which oversees the environment and culture. They have a lot of power under the law. However, in reality, they do not have any power in regards to business carried out by the government itself or the Ministry of Defence. We went to them and they said they have no power in this situation. UNESCO Korea said the same thing. The UN also has not helped. They only advised on human rights issues and they said we are doing well. But the UN cannot always be there to watch what is happening. Even though Ban Ki-moon [the head of the UN] is Korean, he cannot resolve issues in his own country. Personally, I think he should resign.
AGI: If you believe that the construction of the naval base will continue no matter what, and it is too late to stop it now, then what do you hope to gain from the government? Do you have any specific demands?
Kang: We don’t want anything from the government; we aren’t asking for anything from them. They keep talking about giving us some kind of monetary compensation, but I don’t want to be a slave to money. We just want them to do what is right. And in the future, they need to stop doing this kind of thing. That is why we keep fighting. We were given this land by our ancestors and I feel that we have a responsibility to pass it on to our descendants.
AGI: You are planning to make Gangjeong into a book village, correct? Can you tell us more about that?
Kang: After seven years of fighting, Gangjeong has become quite famous around the world. But we want to turn Gangjeong into a place where we can live peacefully, so we can call it a ‘peace village’. We are working on a project right now to bring a lot of books and make a book cafe. We will put some bookcases around and under trees, to turn the village into a huge library itself. We are just in the first steps of doing this. Books are the food for your mind and they also can bring peace. We want to attract more people to visit the village, and this is one way to do that. Person-to-person exchanges are our goal. We are getting a lot of help from writers and poets who are supporting this project (as many as 400-500).
If you would like to learn more about this issue and see how you can help, please visit savejejunow.org.
We thank the mayor for taking time out of his tight schedule to meet with us for this exclusive interview ahead of his speech at the University of London. Thanks also to Layoung Jackson for interpreting.
Here, at AGI we are always striving to bring the best of news, features and deals for you. We have a new competition for you that will definitely bring some warmth to your cold, autumn days.
The prize is: Dinner for two worth £100 at Min Jiang, London’s renowned and most-authentic Chinese Restaurant.
To enter you have to do the following:
Like us and Min Jiang on Facebook.
Answer this simple question: What is a dim sum?
Is it: a) An Asian city b) A type of cake or c) a Chinese dish of small steamed or fried savoury dumplings containing various fillings.
Winner will be selected via a lucky dip.
The competition ends on this Sunday so you need to hurry.
We all know tiffin, tofu and teriyaki, but what about the more unexpected words that have come out of Asia? Word-lover Jonathan Galton gives us an example.
I grew up with a vague idea that tea drinking was a habit the British picked up in India. Not an unreasonable conclusion to draw from the tableaux of sari-clad tea pickers on the front of packets labelled “Darjeeling” and “Assam”, I suppose, but totally inaccurate. The early chapters in the story of man and tea are overwhelmingly linked to China.
Whatever the truth of a popular story involving Emperor Shen Nung, a pot of boiling water, a nearby shrub and a gust of wind, Chinese references to tea drinking stretch back over 2,000 years. By the Tang dynasty (7th to 10th Century CE) tea was widely drunk across China, Japan and Korea. The name given to the beverage (and the plant) varied slightly between languages, with most of China calling it something like cha (the name used in Mandarin and Cantonese today), but those in the southeast opting for ta.
Cha was certainly the form that travelled to Iran, where it became chai which, drunk black and accompanied by dates and sugar cubes, still holds a focal position in Persian social life. As chai, the word has found its way into the vocabulary of Russia, the Arab World, North India, East Africa and most recently even Starbucks!
The first Europeans to encounter tea were the Portuguese, as written records dating back to the 1550s attest. As their major foothold in China was Cantonese-speaking Macau, the word the Portuguese adopted was chá. It is ironic that from Portugal, today a nation of coffee-addicts, one of Europe’s most enthusiastic tea-drinkers spread the habit to Britain. Although the first dated reference to tea in England comes from a 1658 London newspaper, it was Catherine of Braganza, who married Charles II a few years later, who really put tea on the English social map (other legacies from the Portuguese princess include the city of Bombay and, allegedly, the use of the fork).
Why, then, do we (almost always) call it ‘tea’ rather than ‘char’? The answer lies with another European sea-faring nation with trading interests in the Far East. Back in 1606, the first consignment of tea from China to Europe was shipped by the Dutch. They traded with the Fujian region where the word ta was used, and routed ships via Java where this had morphed into teh. As Europe’s principal supplier, the Dutch scattered their thee across Western Europe, giving the French thé, the Italians tè and the Germans tee.
And what about those tea pickers of Assam? My childhood theory actually played out in reverse. By the 19th century, tea had started to spread from Britain’s elite to all levels of society and demand for Chinese imports grew ever higher, prompting the East India Company to investigate the possibility of growing tea in India. Assam, home to an indigenous variety of tea, seemed a logical choice of location and by the 1850’s cultivation and import of Assam tea was in full swing although it was only well into the twentieth century that tea achieved the ubiquity in India that it maintains today. Most of India refers to it with some variant of chai or cha, while some southern languages use teneer (“tea water”) or simply ti. Round the corner in Burma they call it lahpet and eat it pickled as a salad, but that doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea.
Disclaimer: While the above is based on well-established theories of etymology, it should be noted that alternative theories exist for a number of the word origins described.
China’s choppy economic environment can benefit a lot from Free Markets. Finbarr Toesland investigates
China is beginning to show the first signs that its rapid economic growth is slowing down and its long-term growth prospects are more modest than originally thought. When one thinks about China it hardly comes to mind as a capitalist utopia, where the free market philosophy is a central tenant of the government. However, since the introduction of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ in 1978 the role that market mechanisms play has increased greatly, resulting in diminished government planning and economic control.
A lot has changed in China from the first market liberalisation, from the official endorsement of the goal of reforms to create a socialist market economy in 1992 to the elimination of price controls that were used to protect domestic industries in 2001. Most industries are still owned by the state and monopolies are found in the banking and petroleum sector, which can stifle innovation and create unfair competition.
The limited utilisation of free market reforms are partly responsible for the unprecedented growth achieved between 1978 and 2010 of 9.5% per year and for China becoming the world’s second largest economy, bested only by the United States. Chinese society has not been the same since these reforms, seeing colossal changes in the level of poverty, increased incomes and income inequality.
With GDP growth tapering off to a level that soon will be in line with OECD countries, according to Andy Rothman, China macro strategist at brokerage CLSA. “We need to get used to the fact that the boom is over. The days when you could just roll out of bed and make money, or the days when you could expect that the growth rate for most things was going to be faster next year — that’s done. We should expect that for the foreseeable future, every year on average, most major economic data points are going to be growing more slowly.”
Most industries are still owned by the state and monopolies are found in the banking and petroleum sector, which can stifle innovation and create unfair competition.
In response to the declining long-term growth projections, early this month China said they would offer entrepreneurs a stake in the state controlled economy, in order to bolster the countries productivity. For China to progress within the international economy; the dominance of state controlled industries need to be addressed. There is going to be little innovation and fair competition in sectors where government businesses receive major subsidies and force out private companies.
As profits from private sector companies are rising faster, at 16% so far this year, than state-owned business, at only 5%, it should be a main priority to open up the marketplace to entrepreneurs. Whilst it may be difficult in the short term to enact a wide range of reforms in China, if they want to remain competitive internationally they have no other option but to embrace the free market.
By Finbarr Toesland
That is according to Professor of Marking and Innovation Qing Wang, who believes Tesco should have looked into the cultural differences in China compared to the UK before investing in the second biggest economy in the world.
The UK retail giant recently announced it is in talks with China Resources Enterprise (CRE) about merging their stores in China. Tesco, who run 131 stores in China, would control 20 per cent of the new chain, while state-run CRE, who own 3,000 stores in the country, would have 80 per cent.
The Warwick Business School Professor said: “The value of the clubcard or indeed any loyalty programme in the Asian market may have been grossly overestimated. Research my colleagues and I have carried out (publication forthcoming) in an Asian market with similar demographics and purchasing power to that of China’s large cities reveal consumers to be ill-suited to the clubcard approach.
“We found that almost all consumers participated in at least one loyalty programme and 63 per cent of those who participated in loyalty programmes had loyalty cards from four or more retailers. They believed larger choices gave them more power of control, more motivation to make decisions, more chances to have programmes which suit their needs and a more satisfying shopping experience. This means that any customer information held on one store card is incomplete at best and misleading at worst, and is thus not fit for the purpose as Tesco intended.”
Professor Wang says Chinese consumers shop differently to their UK counterparts and don’t show as much brand loyalty.“Compared to westerners, Asian consumers are variety seekers,” said Professor Wang. “Their frequent store-hopping has presented western supermarkets with a difficult conundrum.
“Tesco believed its clubcard would give it an advantage over local rivals. However, the news that Tesco is now set to merge its Chinese operations with a local supermarket chain, shows that perhaps they could have focused more on the cultural differences between Chinese consumers and those in the West.
“Tesco turned up late to the party in China, only opening its first store in 2004. Rivals like Walmart, which entered China in 1996, were able to gain an early advantage. As the first mover, Walmart enjoyed many advantages including the choice of store location, relatively low cost of land, premium market positioning in large cities, and the availability of high-performing local stores for acquisition purposes.
“Though it entered the country eight years later than Walmart, Tesco believed it could catch up thanks to its successful clubcard system pioneered back home. In 2009, the head of Tesco’s Chinese operations described the card as its “secret weapon” in its bid to conquer the country.
“But the participants in our research believed that these loyalty programmes offered many similar attributes, such as the type of product information and promotions provided and the criteria for collecting rewards. Therefore they did not have strong preference for any particular stores but considered them as offering more opportunities to find “a good deal” or more varieties. These findings indicate that competition among the stores are intense and are primarily based on price and location rather than product and service differentiation. Meanwhile, the store loyalty is low as customers tend to switch stores to look for bargains.
“Understanding Chinese consumers is going to be a long and sometimes painful process. But if firms like Tesco are ever going to avoid being stuck in between the more established western retailers and the Chinese retailers who have the intimate knowledge of the local consumers, this understanding is crucial, and is something that the clubcard alone cannot deliver.”
Director/producer Oliver Stone is no stranger to controversy. His films have ranged from ‘Born on the Fourth of July’, which dealt with the mistreatment of Vietnam war veterans in the US (Stone is himself a Vietnam veteran); ‘JFK’, which looked at conspiracy theories related to President Kennedy’s assassination; and ‘Natural Born Killers’, which confronted the way violence is portrayed in the media. So it should come as no surprise then that he has returned with another project practically designed to provoke a reaction – his new book and documentary series carefully titled ‘The Untold History of the United States’, written with his friend, historian Peter Kuznick. In fact, this “Untold” history was released last year, but since then, Mr. Stone and Mr. Kuznick have been doing tours around various states and nations, promoting their four years of hard work on the project and explaining why they feel it is so important.
The main thesis of the series and book is, essentially, that the United States – at least since the end of World War II, if not earlier – is an imperialistic superpower that bullies and threatens the entire world. In Episode 3 of the TV series, they focus on the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan by the US in August 1945. By the end of the show, they have provided a convincing argument that those bombs were unnecessary to end the Pacific War with Japan, and furthermore, they may have directly contributed to creating the Cold War that followed with the Soviet Union (which of course also led to the proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam – America’s most recent war in Asia).
Although you may not agree with everything he has to say, he’s definitely a man worth listening to.
Earlier this year, Stone visited the University of London, only metres away from the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he showed the atomic bomb episode to a packed house. This reporter was there and noted how much interest there was, not only from students, but members of the general public as well. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any skepticism at all, but people on the whole seemed to believe his conclusions were well-grounded. Of course, in right-wing American states, the audience might not be so receptive as the documentary has already received a fair amount of criticism, mostly from conservative Republicans. Although you may not agree with everything he has to say, he’s definitely a man worth listening to.
It is perhaps only inevitable that Stone should eventually end up in Hiroshima, as it is central to what he sees as the start of when the US lost its ‘moral authority’ in the world. At Hiroshima University on August 6 – exactly 68 years after the atomic bomb was dropped on the city by his country – Stone gave a speech in front of another large audience. He said that he ‘experienced very strong emotions’. But he also felt there was hypocrisy in the Japanese government. Decrying the rising tide of nationalism in Japan, he wonders why they haven’t examined their history more closely and repented like they have done in Germany. ‘Japan [has become] a client state of the United States. You have a great economy, a great work ethic, but you don’t stand for anything.’ He went on to say that Obama’s current ‘pivot to Asia’ should be met with skepticism as he believes it has nothing to do with North Korea; rather, it is meant to ‘contain’ China, America’s main competitor in the world now. Warning Japan that ‘the great dragon is not China, it’s the US’, Stone certainly pulled no punches.
At the speech, he briefly mentioned his recent trip to Jeju Island in South Korea – a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site – where plans are in place to build a large naval base. This plan has been met with protests and complaints from local villagers; Stone joined a peace march on August 4 in support of these protesters. Stone’s wife also happens to be Korean.
After Hiroshima, Stone also visited Nagasaki, the site of the second nuclear bomb attack, and Okinawa, where a US military base has been a hot topic of local contention for years.
Hence, to celebrate the first anniversary of AGI (Asian Global Impact) we decided to focus on the theme of foundation. This issue focuses on the foundations of the new Chinese dream. President Xi Jinping’s used the term new Chinese dream during his commencement speech in 2012. AGI editorial team investigates what China’s new dream means to the world that how does the decidedly individualistic American Dream, which in a nutshell can be summarised as an indefatigable right to, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” for all, translate to Communist society?
While we contemplate China’s new dream, our guest columnists, Nirmalya Kumar (London Business School) and Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp (Kenan-Flagler Business School) look into strategies which Chinese brands will use to breakout into the western market in the future.
This issue also focuses on green growth strategies of South Korea, Innovation in Taiwan and Qatar as the pearl of the gulf. In lounge section, for the first time we focus on Middle- Eastern fashion delicacy and grace by Saudi Arabian designer Razan Al Azzouni who is a young Middle Eastern Fashion designer embracing culture whilst incorporating them in her contemporary designs.
Each summer brings new promises, promises which make dreams come into reality and realties which make us dream bigger than before. The sun has shined brighter than before , and we hope it does the same on our publication as we strive to make our foundations for the coming years. Our next issue focuses on creativity and innovation in the fields of the art & design.
Do not miss on our next issue subscribe to our digital issue as we lay foundations for our digital strategy in the upcoming year.
Editor & Managing Director
According to a recent report, gender diversity is apparently on its way in China. However, the figures in this report are only overall statistics: female representation varies hugely from one sector to another. In banking, finance, private equity, IT, energy, and electronic and manufacturing industries. There is a much higher percentage of males at senior level, such as C-suite, or sitting on boards.
In China, despite a growing amount of women entrepreneurs and female leadership, a majority of females remain very traditional and would rather devote their time and energy to their families. Business has yet to shake of its image as a realm for men thing across the globe, and this includes China. With childcare and other commitments placed on them, a large majority of women are not as available to go on business trips and work overtime compared to men.
Besides, we have to keep in mind than Senior Managements position involve a minimum of 15 years professional experience post-degree, so those Chinese women who are currently eligible to such high-level roles were educated in the 1990’s, a period when many of them were raised on a very traditional vision of life, where men go out to work and women keep house – just as it was in western countries too, decades ago.
Beside, back then, Chinese women were traditionally receiving an education leading to a more HR, legal or finance focused sector: there were really few or no women doing engineering, management or business studies. The Majority of C-Level roles in China at the moment recruit people with either a sales or technical background which historically was not a career path for women. As a consequence, high-level positions are usually male-led today, but this is changing with the new generation of Chinese.
The Majority of C-Level roles in China at the moment recruit people with either a sales or technical background which historically was not a career path for women.
As more women are educated in engineering and commercial functions, the C-Level representation of women will increase.Along with China development and internationalization, women attain a higher education level, and develop broader views on life and success, and higher ambitions. -Chinese females certainly now play an
important role in the workplace. Beside this, the market is changing dramatically too, and sectors and disciplines where women are highly represented at the management level, such as human resources, are just developing in China to a structure that would allow for C-level progression. The booming of the retail and
fashion industry, currently leading to significant job creation for passionate and talented women, will have in a few years a new generation of high-level management – many of whom will be female.
Nevertheless, as of now, Chinese women, as strong and talented may be, may have to push forward and make more efforts than men to reach levels such as c-level, but this is mainly due to education and job market structure, which both evolved too rapidly: ambitious and career focused people, male or female, will find the best professional growth opportunities in this booming China market.
By Max Price, Partner at Antal International China
Last week there were reports from farmers that their livestock had been attacked by Siberian tigers. This is not an unusual happening, but it is an increasing cause for concern among conservationists.
China News Agency reports that this is the fourth occurrence of livestock being attacked by a wild Siberian tiger in the Huanan forest zone of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province in the last few weeks. Moreover, Chinese media has recently reported that locals in the area are becoming increasingly worried about the increasingly volatile nature of the tigers in the region. Although there have been no human fatalities, many locals are scared.
Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, have always rambled through the bordering forests of China, Russia and Siberia. There was little to fear for the tigers until the area became more industrialized in recent decades. With more people, came more poachers.
A 1930s census revealed that only 20 to 30 Siberian tigers were in the area. However, with the implementation of Russia legislative regulations the situation improved. The hunting ban worked. The Siberian tiger population has grown since the thirties, and today it is believed that up to 500 wild Siberian tigers exist.
In terms of conservation of the Siberian tiger this is positive news, but many challenges remain. Namely the fact that, if tiger numbers are to increase, humans will have to find a way to live alongside them.
Deputy Director at the Heilongjiang Provincial Wildlife Research Institute, Sun Haiyi, believes that today’s attack is indicative of the Siberian tiger moving closer to the inland from the East Wandashan Mountain area and the Russian border.Another concern is the Siberian tiger’s feeding habits. If any wild tigers start to depend on attacking livestock then there is the possibility that they could lose their fear of humans.
So what is the solution? There is no easy answer. Ultimately people have their lives and livelihood to protect- but the survival of this remarkable species still hangs in the balance. Authorities will have to investigate ways to manage local tiger populations, and at the same time educate the people in the region that will increasingly encounter them.
By Paula Pennant
The Harry Potter series may have come to an end in 2008, but the magic lives on for one canny Chinese entrepreneur, who is earning over £100,000 every month with an online spell emporium.
Hunan based Luo Shan, age 31, launched his paranormal problem solving service last October, and since then has been living the start-up dream.
His clients come to him with all manner of problems- the lovesick, the bereaved, the guilty, and the people who hate their brother-in-law all come banging at his door for his mystical spells.
According to Mr Luo, “Writing spells is a sacred thing… [You must] calm your heart, shower and change clothes [and] be guided by the Holy Spirit.”
Although he began his career by training as an accountant, it soon became clear that higher powers beckoned. Two years into his course at Changsha University of Science and Technology, Mr Luo switched to studying the ancient Chinese art of fengshui, explaining that, “I witnessed many quite mysterious scenes and I wanted to find the answers.”
He started working as a freelance feng shui consultant in 2002, advising on auspicious dates and day to day advice.
Last year he shifted into the world of e-commerce, opening an online store on Taobao, the Chinese version of Amazon. He now sells over 160 different spells and related items, capitalising on the new market of China’s 538 million internet users.
In June the store sold 2,825 spells, with the most popular item being a £33 love charm.
Although coy about revealing his total net worth, Mr Lui is adamant that he will remain true to his teachings, and channel any huge profits into philanthropic works, telling one reporter, “If I really become rich in the future I will build a football field in my hometown where there is no football field yet [and] open it free of charge for the kids to play on. Or [I will] build a primary school where the kids can develop according to their own interests – or perhaps build a Taoist temple.”
Spells on offer in Mr Lui’s Store:
1. The [build] good relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law spell, improves relations between the two
2. The abortion atonement spell: a spell for driving away the evil spirits [caused by abortion] and soothing the baby’s spirit
3. The villain prevention spell: wards off criminals
4. The debt-chasing spell: make your debtor upset so he returns your money