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KGCCI head celebrates life in Seoul

Posted December. 01, 2000 14:31,   


"I've obtained three things in Korea: First is my wife and family, and second is Korean antiques; lastly, Korea has become my second home."

Some say that a decade could change the face of a mountain. Today marks the 20th anniversary of Florian Shuffner's, 56, appointment to the post of the Secretary General & CEO of the Korea-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KGCCI).

The head of the KGCCI, Shuffner, who gives off an impression as a kind-hearted neighborhood favorite with the children, was dispatched to Korea in turbulent 1980 and has spent 20 years in Korea since.

"At the time, working in Korea was a great risk,¡± he said. ¡°Especially with the political instability following the Oct. 26 incident, everyone advised me against coming. However, I felt a great attraction to the small country in the Far East. I was single at the time of appointment and went from hotel to hotel, as I went about my business. Six months after my appointment, I had the greatest pleasure of promoting commerce between the two nations to US$1.5 million, double the previous level."

The current annual commerce between Korea and Germany stands at US$9 billion. At the time of his appointment, Korea's exports to Germany were limited to textiles and clothing. However, today, Korean cars can be seen on the Autobahn and Korea electronic goods in German homes.

"Although the Korean market for German goods has been liberalized more than before, there are still some blocks remaining,¡± Shuffner said. ¡°The Korean social bias against foreign cars and the Korean government's subsidies for Korean manufacturers must be abolished."

Concerning the possibility of a second economic crisis as mentioned by many, he said that such a possibility does not exist.

"Although Korea has gone through some macroscopic reforms since the 1997 economic crisis, there still is room for more reform for the restructuring of the financial institutions and conglomerates restructuring.¡±

Shuffner, who let on that he needs to eat dried-bean soup and kimchi at least once a day, has planned a small 20th anniversary party at his home in the U.N. Village in the Hannam area.