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[Opinion] Little Giant Gumi

Posted October. 19, 2005 06:09,   


Eindhoven, a small city in the Netherlands, is familiar to soccer fans. Gus Hiddink is currently the coach of the city’s football team PSV Eindhoven. Dick Advocaat, the new coach of the Korean national team, has also led the team. Soccer fans might be disappointed, however, because Eindhoven is more famous as an industrial city. The brothers Gerard and Anton Philips first produced light bulbs under the company name of Philips in 1891. Afterwards, as the city continued to draw high-tech companies, it grew into a technology hub. The proud city of the Netherlands has set up exclusive sisterhood relationships with Gumi, Korea and Nanjing, China, in Asia.

Gumi has received steady visits by overseas diplomats and business leaders. Last year alone, the city attracted $1.02 billion in foreign capital from seven multinationals. Many also praise, “It is rare to see in this world such a small city posting almost $30 billion in annual exports.” The city is called the hub of display business as it produces one out of four display products in the world, including TVs, monitors, and LCD monitors for laptop computer. It is fair to call the city the Eindhoven of Korea.

You can see the history of Korea’s modern industry development in the Gumi National Industrial Complex. Established as Korea’s first industrial park in the provincial area in 1971, it produced black-and-white TVs and textile products in the 1970s. Electronics goods became its main products in the 1980s, but it was hard to exceed $50,000 even though it exported a container full of color TVs. Also, it suffered from the financial crisis in the 1990s. But it revived thanks to investment in the state-of-the-art industries by forward-looking large conglomerates which was combined with the digital fever around 2000.

In Gumi, the population grows by 6,000 people annually. People voluntarily flock to the city which boasts the highest average income level and the largest exports and production among 242 local self-governments nationwide. The official sector of the city also has an extraordinary attitude. So much so that Takashi Wada, president of the Display Company division of Asahi Glass, who concluded an investment contract with the city last year, said, “I decided to invest because I was moved by the sincerity of the officials.” “Little giant” Gumi demonstrates a simple truth that people and money gather where companies prosper.

Kim Sun-duk, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com