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(Yonhap Interview) From strangers to business partners through female leaders' conference

All Headlines 08:15 August 26, 2016

By Woo Jae-yeon

JEJU ISLAND, South Korea, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- One can easily mistake Jun Young-soon and Jun Kyung-sook for sisters because of their similar heights and hairstyles, and, yes, their names.

But the two businesswomen met through an annual forum for Korean female leaders that was launched in 2001 by the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family aimed at growing and enhancing the global network of professional Korean women.

At the 16th Korean Women's International Network (KOWIN), which kicked off on Wednesday on the southern resort island of Jeju for three days, the two said the conference has created valuable business opportunities beyond just building up networks.

"This conference is a venue for businesswomen based in Korea to meet potential overseas partners without the hassle of going abroad," said Jun Young-soon in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Thursday.

CEO of the business consulting firm eG.M.I based in Seoul, she set up the firm jointly with Zhang Ludan, the only child of Jun Kyung-sook, a Chinese-Korean and managing director of Ye Jia Technology Group Ltd. Ye Jia Technology is a Chinese plastic parts and lighting technology company based in Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

In August 2013, Jun Young-soon was invited to speak at the 13th KOWIN where she talked about businesswomen's performance in a time of economic slowdown. After the speech, a participant from China invited her to speak at a networking event in Shenzhen where around 180 Korean Chinese businesswomen got together. There she met the Chinese-Korean Jun.

It didn't take long before they clicked and sealed a business contract where the Korean Jun provides business consulting services to her Chinese partner. Also she's recently set up the Korean branch of a soon-to-be-launched online merchandising company run by Zhang.

For Chinese Jun, connecting with other business owners has proven crucial for overcoming business-related difficulties.

Born to Korean parents who moved to China in the 1950s, she co-founded a plastic manufacturing company in 2001 with four partners, including her sister.

Since 2004, she's attended a meeting of Korean Chinese businessmen where she could find and learn valuable business tips and advice. With the help of some acquaintances she met through the meetings, she was able to clinch more business deals even during the Asian financial crisis, she said.

A producer of plastic parts for printers, fax machines, automobiles, home appliances and games consoles, her company has recently shifted its focus to value-added, high-technology products like LED parts. With approximately 1,500 employees, it now has business relations with electronic giants like LG.

"This conference helped me establish a sound network to build a more globalized company. Next time I hope to see younger professionals playing a leading role," she said.


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