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[Opinion] LG and Samsung Sweeps the “CES”

Posted January. 07, 2005 23:02,   


LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics swept innovation awards in the historic International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, U.S. LG Electronics won the most awards for the second consecutive year, followed by Samsung. The high standing of Korean products was noticed even in the keynote speech room; it was a “Made in Korea” product that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates brought with him to demonstrate the “combination of fine software and hardware.” In other words, even Bill Gates, the Emperor of Software, now cannot talk about the present and future of digital world without Korean hardware.

A column on a U.S. economic website clearly illustrates how poorly Korean consumer electronics were treated in the global market until early 1990s; John Dvorak, in his article entitled “Samsung, the company to watch at CES” told a story he had heard eight years before during his visit to Korea. Lee Geon-hee, CEO of Samsung, stopped by a department store during his business trip to the U.S. He looked here and there to find “Made in Korea” products, but he could find none. When he asked a clerk why they had no Korean products, he was told, “Because they are trash.”

Korean products transformed from mere “trash” to “the most sophisticated ones” in only less than 10 years. Only after 2000 did they earnestly advance into such luxurious stores as Macy’s. They turned around with such rapidity that there are times things are hard to understand for Koreans with their conventional sense and wisdom. Therein lies the reason why Japanese products, 15 percent cheaper than Korean ones in the U.S. market, sell for prices 30 percent higher than Korean products in Korea.

Korean electrical appliances are probably not alone in getting poor reception in the local market while treated as quality products on the international stage. Local corporations are getting that poor treatment, not to mention their goods. Most companies that survived the economic crisis in the late 1990s assumed a completely new way of business. They now do not rush into non-profitable businesses only to save face even when the government appeals. It is deplorable that the government is busy strengthening regulations on one thing and another like the total amount of investment, something companies are not keeping their eyes on.

Cheon Kwang-am, Editorial Writer, iam@donga.com