Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Poland - Korea 20 years passed...

On November 2nd 20 years have passed since Poland and Korea established officially bilateral ties. In Poland there is a special Korean cultural year celebrated, a lot of trade fairs and exhibitions have been opened as well. One of the most fruitful in enterprise followed was Korean Product Show held in Warsaw in June.

Here in Seoul with the occasion both sides have exchanged traditional diplomatic chit chat letters saying how wonderful it has been so far and how they intend it to be. Indeed they do not have to go too far to visit each other as Polish Embassy in Seoul is situated in the most prestigious spot - near the Special Presidential Area, next to Gyeokbongguk Palace ( if I spelled that right).

So far Korean companies like Samsung, Ssangyoung, and LG have invested more than 1.7 bln $ in Poland creating design and development centers and employing lots of people.
However diplomatic chit chat is one and reality is another. There is an anonymous unconfirmed rumour that all Korean industries are withdrawing from Poland within next year due to the special tax abolition period will have expired by then. Yet due to my current information this proves to be not true so far. We'll see what the officials from Poland tell me and when.

It is a good occasion to try to summarize similarities and differences between our two nations. Koreans are very intelligent, patriotic and conscious people. They like to drink a lot, too. They are not afraid to be loud in the evening at some bar or restaurant. And they know who Walesa was ( it's very good that they don't know who Walesa is today as they probably would be confused a bit).

Polish people... are lucky. Oh yes, they are hardworking too, when it is really needed, but they are mostly lucky. Like with that special spirit in the air watching over them for centuries and always sparing just from under the hammer of fate. Current state of polish economy is a little bit of both of that. After we joined EU most of young labor force not competitive on polish market fled abroad and started sending money home. And more money and more money. Sustainable central government policy towards state bonds management and transparent fiscal and bank legal system spared Poland from "financial crisis" inferno. Even after huge panic and mass foreign capital withdrawal and some hocus pocus of Goldman Sachs last year economy merely slowed down a bit by 2 to 3%.

Ill - considered currency hedges have hit some firms, some "end of the chain" companies suffered impact from old EU collapsing economy, but nevertheless 60% of big ones plan new investments this year.

How these circumstances are being used, that's different. If Poland learns - and I think that has learnd a lot by now - that wind of change never blows twice - then a little bit of hard work applied and success gonna last.

Looks like this is visible now by polish businessmen. They often complain about bailout plans and other stability magic techniques giving remark like Jozef Przyblwa, a hotelier in one of the Silesian towns, stating that the crisis has weeded out the "weak and reckless".
Polish central government despite of wishes or more brutal orders from old EU states like France or Germany which consistently try to impose "shut up and obey" policy towards Poland, keeps minding it's own business using whatever it takes to built the state of the future.

This is very similar to Korea as well. One of the most important factors which makes this country successful is good foreign affairs management and very determined strategy of economic patriotism within the global village of these days. With growing Japanese agressive attitude and constant threat from China is like modern Poland eclypsed between two non-friendly states trying not just to survive, but succeed.

Are there differences...? Oh yes. Polish people are veeeery individualistic. They do not obey much and must see own interest in any action taken. Where two Polish meet, there are 5 opinions - a common sense tells. Koreans are very collectivist and will always obey to the orders.
Despite of the differences, simmilarity of fate and history and some traits of mentality makes it all the way possible to cooperate.

This is all for now. Next post is coming soon.


  1. That's quite an interesting comparison :)
    The overall situation of Poland and Korea shows some resemblace, but the attitudes and habits of society might differ.
    It seems like both countries might benefit from sharing their experiences.

  2. I personally hope for that, but it takes a long term international relations policy, and there is a lack of that.


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