There is no doubt that South Korea is an emerging economic superpower. South Korea has several dozens chaebols. (Note: Not chabor or women, although I am sure she has them as well and many pretty ones too.) A chaebol is a large, family-controlled Korean corporate group, assisted by government financing. Chaebols have played a major role in the South Korean economy since the 1960s. Some have become well-known international brand names, such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG. But let's look back in history to see how the Koreans managed to slowly garner a share of the Singapore market in almost every product.
Hyundai's debut in the Singapore car market began when its first Pony galloped onto our shores a quarter of a century ago:
It was then a horse with no name. I have not
ridden driven a Pony before but I have heard enough horror stories about it. As Mr Christopher Tan, Straits Times' Senior Correspondent put it in a recent article, the only other car that could rival it in terms of notoriety "was the Lada Samara, a thinly-disguised Russian loaf machine that arrived a decade later".
Today, Hyundai cars are the third best-selling in Singapore, according to LTA's 2005 figures, losing out only to Toyota and Nissan:
Hyundai even beat Honda and Mitsubishi to fourth and fifth places respectively. And the best-selling mini-MPV was the Hyundai Matrix:
The confidence that Singapore consumers have in Korean products is evident to me when Chris recently bought two Korean products:
The reasons why more Singaporeans are now accepting Korean products must be as follows:
a. Korean products' designs, quality, durability and reliability have all improved through the years. Many people now prefer Korean-made products to China-made ones even though they have to pay a bit more.
b. The products are competitively priced. Their prices are at least 20% lower than similar products that are made in Japan. (However, I have also heard many people complaining that Korean cars consume at least 20% more petrol than their Japanese counterparts.)
In terms of TV entertainment, I remember in the early 80s, Singaporeans were crazy over Hong Kong serials. The first popular one was "The Man In The Net" starring Chow Yun Fatt:
Mr Ong, my primary school classmate whom I met recently, told me that his wife watches Korean drama serials almost every night till early next morning. She then catches up on her sleep in the day. What an exciting life!
Only blogging seems to be more exciting. The shows that she watches must have stars such as these:
Now I know why the handsome lad in the last photo is also called "the aunties' heartthrob" by people like Chun See. There is even a Wikipedia entry on, not Chun See, but Bae Yong Joon. My wife got my alarm bells ringing when she recently told me that she found the show Da Chang Jin "quite nice".
Would you believe it? Korean snacks are also invading our supermarket shelves:
But this was the last straw that
broke my back prompted me to write this post:
Korean ice cream!
They even teach you how to pronounce it (the Korean way, I suppose):
It is not pronounced the way it is in "preferred bra" but "pray-fair-ray".
So "pray-fair-ray", I've had a wonderful time too writing this post.