Various businesses are already underway: Chairman Oh
More than 2 million foreigners stay in South Korea, and the number is expected to almost double to some 4 million in a decade. But some question whether the country is genuinely ready to embrace so many foreigners.
The government comes up with various policies, but they seem to be insufficient. In this climate, a naturalized Korean citizen spearheaded the foundation of an organization to help the nation brace for diversity.
It is the Global Business Alliance (GBA), which was launched last month led by Kerban Group Chairman Oh Sinan Ozturk, who was born in Turkey but stayed here over the past 22 years.
“It is time to consider them as our members and as people representing our diversity. We must accept them as talents to make Korea more beautiful and better. That’s why the GBA was established,” Oh said.
Oh noted that many businesses are already underway after the inauguration of the GBA, a unique platform geared toward connecting Korean entrepreneurs with foreign businesspeople here, late last month.
“In just a couple of weeks, we found a few interesting business opportunities. Other countries knock on the Korean market through the GBA, and Korean firms also hope to do offshore businesses via the GBA,” the 46-year-old CEO said.
“In particular, Korean companies will be able to tap into the overseas markets based on consultation with the GBA, which are composed of many foreign members with rich knowledge and good networks in their countries.”
On top of businesspeople, the GBA consists of diplomatic counselors and start-up leaders. The Seoul-based outfit also provides consulting to members and offers various certifications necessary for outbound shipments.
Oh said that as a not-for-profit organization, the GBA will carry out a set of pro bono activities.
“Some 80 percent of the GBA is about the business, and the remaining 20 percent is about helping foreigners here and making Korea a more globalized place,” he said.
“In addition, the GBA will act as an incubation center and funding platform for start-up heads so that they will be able to achieve their ‘crazy ideas.’”
Who is Chairman Oh?
Chairman Oh is a Turk who first took a flight to Seoul in 1997 to major in industrial engineering at Seoul National University.
He gained prominence in 2002 while working as a liaison between Turkish delegation and Koreans during the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
Back then, Korean and Turkish teams had the third-place playoff where the latter beat the former 3-2.
“Koreans cheered Turkey to the end, and the result was finished with the better friendship between the long-time allies. Both Korea and Turkey surprised the world,” Oh recollected.
“I was so impressed at that moment, and I do believe they expressed their gratitude to the generous sacrifice of the Turkish soldiers who participated in the Korean War (1950-53).”
Turkey was the second country after the United States to answer the United Nations’ call for military aid to South Korea after North Korea attacked midway through 1950.
Turkey suffered casualties of almost 1,000, including those who were dead and missing in action.
Oh had interviews with many Turkish warriors who took part in the Korean War to publish a book in the mid-2000s, which was well accepted in his native country.
He now operates one of the biggest foreign restaurant franchises here by specializing in Halal cuisine in 16 locations.
Oh, who became a naturalized Korean citizen in 2008, got married to a Korean woman to have three children.