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(Yonhap Interview) Dyson moving to win over Korean consumers as country grapples with fine dust: engineer

All Headlines 17:53 April 03, 2019

By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- Dyson Ltd. hopes to win over South Korean consumers with its innovative air purifier products as the country tries to deal with air pollution, a senior engineer for the British home appliance maker said Wednesday.

"(In) Asia, in particular, more developed parts like Shanghai, Seoul, and Japan ... there is heightened awareness of health, especially the air you are breathing," Sam Bernard said in a group interview with local media outlets.

In recent years, South Korea has been plagued by sandy dust that has blown in from mainland China. The wind, carrying considerable amounts of industrial pollutants, has become a serious health and social problem here.

Bernard, who is responsible for the strategy and delivery of all Dyson environmental control products including air purifiers, said he is well aware of the pollution issue in Seoul.

"I have seen the picture of the Seoul sky," the British engineer said. "It's important we have people here who can understand the problem."

Dyson plans to open a research and development (R&D) center in Seoul later this year. The company earlier opened a research facility in Shanghai in 2017.

The engineer said Dyson, which has one British engineer stationed in Seoul, plans to hire more locals who specifically understand the needs of South Koreans.

"What is important is that we don't think of Asia as one market ... it's unique, each (country)," the engineer said. "We are increasingly focused on the (South) Korean market."

The market for air purifiers has expanded exponentially in recent years, with Asia Pacific projected to be the most attractive regional market in the future.

This photo, provided by British home appliance maker Dyson Ltd., shows the company's senior engineer, Sam Bernard, talking to reporters in Seoul on April 3, 2019. (Yonhap)

Notably, sales of air purifiers in South Korea reached a record high in the first two months of this year when fine dust forced people to stay indoors and don filter masks.

Bernard is in South Korea as the British firm unveiled two new products, including its latest cord-free vacuum cleaner, the V11, and compact air purifier, which focus on the well-being of consumers.

"I am really proud of (the) Pure Cool Me air purifier," he said, noting that the product, which took seven years to develop, can be used to clean air in the personal space of a user.

The product has been tested to check if it can deal with dust, pollen, tobacco smoke and pet allergens in the room settings where people spend 90 percent of their time.

"Most penetrating particles are 0.1 micron," he said, adding that the company's unique HEPA filter can capture gases and 99.97 percent of pollutants and allergens.

Dyson said the latest product is unique in that jets of air meet on a convex surface to create a precise stream of air so that the users can tilt it forward and back to control the direction of air flow.

"In previous products, air was controlled inside of the product ... (Dyson Pure Cool Me) controls where air goes after the air left the product," the engineer said.

The unveiled lineup is the first since the company relocated its headquarters from London to Singapore earlier this year, apparently to tap deeper into the growing market.

"It makes sense, (since a) large part of (our) business operates in Asia," he said, noting that Dyson currently operates a large supply chain in Southeast Asia.

The engineer, meanwhile, declined to comment on media reports that Dyson is developing a new wearable purifier, apparently to meet growing demand.

"I can't say exactly what we are working on," he said, "What we are doing is developing technology. Products come from those."

This photo (L) shows a clear Seoul sky compared with a pollution-choked Seoul sky (R). (Yonhap)

khj@yna.co.kr
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