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Hanchang: early adapter, big winner

Aug 25, 2018


South Korea’s reputation as a leading global power has rested primarily on its chaebols, or large industrial conglomerates, and its high-tech giants. However, its SMEs are emerging from the shadows and contributing more to Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Hanchang, based in Busan, has been able to adjust quickly to changes in the market, both at home and abroad. Today, the holding company is staking its future on finding new growth opportunities in the market.

Expanding beyond its original activity, Hanchang has ventured into three new businesses: property development, hotel management and aquatic products.

While growing on the back of its gaseous fire extinguisher system manufacturing, in the last three years Hanchang has restructured and created three new segments: construction in 2015, seafood in 2016, and just last year, entertainment. The move involves some risk but also promises huge returns.

“We import live seafood from our company in Vladivostok, Russia. In Korea, there is a frenzy over the entertainment business. These businesses are risky but have great potential. If we successfully carry out our investment plan, Hanchang will grow even faster,” said CEO Choi Seung-hwan.

Hanchang is now formulating a future business strategy for North Korea. Last August, it launched a cruise ferry line business with routes plying the East Sea, stopping at Russian and Japanese ports. The first such company with cruise level ships, Hanchang looks forward to dropping anchor at a North Korean port in the near future.

“The current positive atmosphere between North and South Korea is still building and economic relations are expected to be restored. If we could finally open a port in North Korea with our cruise ferry line, we won’t just send passengers but also drop cargo. We are opening a new chapter with economic cooperation between the two Koreas. It will also help North Korea return to the international trade market. We are highly anticipating taking a crucial role in the process,” he explained.

Amid Hanchang’s rapid expansion, Choi is also seeking partners: “Being listed on the Korea Stock Exchange for over 40 years, we are continually looking for investors. As sales grow fast, we need capital to finance our expansion.”

Through expanding its territory into new business fields, Hanchang has been doubling their revenue. It may not take that long before the company joins the billion-dollar club.

South Korea 2018 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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