| View Eun-Shil Boots' profile on KBC
||January 11, 2011 - KBC Relay Interview"A Korean-at-Heart in Amsterdam” Eun-Shil Boots (Park) International Trader and Businesswoman
Eun-Shil was interviewed by Sangkyun Kim. (Click here for Sangkyun's relay interview.)
Sang Kyun Chong: Hi Eun Shil, thank you for taking the time out. I really appreciate it. First of all, couldyou tell us about yourself?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Well I just turned to 41 years old a couple of days ago (1st of Jan), Iam an entrepreneur in import-export to Korea. Also, I m a mother of 4 children, the youngest of whom, 7, is living with me. I do some export of EU-wines and champagnes to Korea B to B
Sang Kyun Chong: Sounds great.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): And until recently I did some import of Samsung Ezon Products to theNetherlands.
Sang Kyun Chong: What are Samsung Ezon products?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Home Digital Products likewise Digital Door Locks, CCTV wireless andother digital electronic stuffs. In Korea, you see everywhere those products but in EU we are far behind in this type of technology in and around houses and apartments.
I was quite lonely as I was the only woman in this type of business....in the Netherlands.
Sang Kyun Chong: I see. Why is it that you are one of the few woman in this business? I would think there'd be more woman actively participating in businesses in Netherlands than, let’s say, Korea?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Well the Netherlands is very conservative in many ways.
There are more women involved in part time jobs than full time jobs. It’s difficult to break the so called ‘old boys’ network. Therefore, more women move in part time than full time.
Sang Kyun Chong: Wow. That's a piece of information I didn't know. So it’s like Korea in some way...
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Oh yeah. Dutch people like to present themselves as modern, but the truth is quite different.
Sang Kyun Chong: Then how was your business experience dealing with Korean customers and suppliers? Has it been different from what you'd expect in the Netherlands?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Oh yeah! A whole different world!!!
Sang Kyun Chong: How so? What is satisfying and what is not?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): With Dutch people, you don't have to see each other, or even know each other personally to do some good business, but for Koreans don't work like that.
Sang Kyun Chong: Yes.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Folks from Samsung back office, a lot of them, came to the Netherlands, and I had to spend so much time interacting and connecting with them to build personal relationship. I drove them around Amsterdam, eat with them, drink with them…. Even some sightseeing through the red light district etc, etc.
Sang Kyun Chong: I know what you mean. For them, it is an exciting excuse to go out and have some fun. And it is understood by the company, too.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Oh yeah, they all wanted to come to Amsterdam.
Sang Kyun Chong: I'd go there in a second, too!
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Every 2-3 weeks, I had those guys over from Seoul, and it can be exhausting. And finally on the very last minute(!!), I got the contract.
Sang Kyun Chong: Every 2-3 weeks! You must have handled a lot of volume for them!
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Well I did my first big sale to a major player in the DIY-market in EU. I did redesign the package completely. As for EU wines, there goes every single week containers full of wines and champagnes to Korea. Koreans like to drink. J
Sang Kyun Chong: That's for sure! Is there anything bad about working with Korean customer/ supplier? I promise I won't tell anyone. J
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Oh yes, I’m afraid so.
Sang Kyun Chong: Tell us about it.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Suppliers are sometimes very difficult to keep their promises and customers lazy in paying the bills.
Sang Kyun Chong: Well, there is a Korean saying (don’t count on me on this one) “If you want to be a rich man, collect early and pay later”.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Ha. Ha. True.
Sang Kyun Chong: I see what you mean by not keeping the promise though... The respect for a written contract is generally low because business is done based on relationship and trust, right?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Oh, yes!!!
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): But it is very very satisfaying once you can connect with them. I finally got what I wanted after a soju-evening in Amsterdam and paying all the dinner tabs. J It was actually a win against other interested parties coming from Samsung themselves!
Sang Kyun Chong: What do you mean?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): I was the only non-Samsung person and also a woman. The other parties were guys/directors from Samsung Europe and so on. They wanted to be an entrepreneur themselves.
Sang Kyun Chong: Aha. That must have been a tough competition. Because I am not sure if you know, but in Samsung culture until recently, there is a practice where ex-Samsung employees (fresh departures) are given first consideration as their dealers for a couple of years – as a sign of respect for their services at Samsung.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Exactly!
Sang Kyun Chong: It was even written out as a guideline for vendor hiring.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): But, now I moved on to my next 2 projects.
Sang Kyun Chong: What are they?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): First one is to launch a Korean cosmetics web shop for Eastern Europe and former Russia.
Sang Kyun Chong: Sounds exciting! I saw many Korean cosmetic franchise shops in South East Asia. They seem to be doing quite well. You are moving them into European region now.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): True. But they are unknown here in Europe.
Every east European woman spends 1/3 of her salary on cosmetics!!! We will exploit this niche market and make it BIG.
My second project is foundation of 'east in the west', renovating and rejuvenating Amsterdam downtown into 17st century style with major attention for Asian influence.
Sang Kyun Chong: How are you going to do it?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): We are in contact with the local government of Amsterdam. They bought previously a lot of real estate from not so good businessmen like pimps and that kind of stuff. The government wanted to rejuvenate the postal code area 1012.
Sang Kyun Chong: You mean red light district.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Yes. We launched a plan that reminds how Amsterdam became big in the 17th century like Golden Age and VOC etc.
The whole Amsterdamis built on trade with Asian countries you know?
Sang Kyun Chong: So are you designing the new look for the area?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Yes and more!
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): We want to create a new cultural area.
Sang Kyun Chong: Cultural area?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Including leading museums like Rijksmuseum, dependences of these museums, high quality shops selling Asian goods.
So, imagine a whole area with these types of businesses. We want to tell the history through the eyes of the Asians.
Sang Kyun Chong: So the area will become the reminder of the past history and yet a place where you can taste the culture of Asia, right?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Exactly with a big eye to rewrite the western history books! I read the book from Prof Jack Goody: the theft of history! We are now talking to the University of Amsterdam to write new teaching material for students.
Sang Kyun Chong: Wow. That sounds awesome!
Sang Kyun Chong: To change the topic a bit,,, I understand that you've spent most of your life in the Netherlands and probably know little about Korea. What made you seek business opportunities in Korea?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Yes that’s true but you know Sang Kyun, the fundament of your personality is built in the first 5-6 years of your life. Well for me, it was built in Korea. And yes, the natives consider me as Dutch! J
But the main reason to reconnect to Korea is that I wanted to discover my past, and to do something with it.
Sang Kyun Chong: Excellent answer!
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): My Korean mother is still alive in Korea and I am learning Korean language again. It’s the first step at discovering my past.
Sang Kyun Chong: How has the Korean learning coming along?
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): I went to the Korean school here in Amstelveen (sub district of Amsterdam) and met a lot of Korean expats. They helped me in many ways. And my 7 year old daughter is also learning Korean.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): I find Korean language extremely difficult to be honest.
Sang Kyun Chong: I agree, but my 30-month-old daughter speaks really well... just give yourself about 30 months. J
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Well, I am now hooked on Korean drama and follow the sentences out loud. And thanks to Korean drama, I’ve started to become more interested in Korean men, ha ha ha! I am used to BIG Dutch Guys!
Sang Kyun Chong: Ha ha... yes, as a small guy myself... I have to say Korean guys are more attractive~
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): LOL
Sang Kyun Chong: I really applaud your courage, will, passion and drive for success. And I hope to continue to hear your success stories in the projects you are working on. It may be a bad news for some of the Samsung folks you used to drive around, but good luck on the rejuvenation project for area 1012. Also, you have made a great progress in reconnecting the dots with your past. I wish you the best in that endeavor, too.
Eun-Shil Boots (Park): Thank you very much. As a Korean adoptee (ibyang), I am proud to be a Korean again. Hopefully at the end of this month, after many years of fighting in court, I will get my Korean background back through the decision by the Dutch court, and be reunited with my Korean mother again.
Sang Kyun Chong: Good luck. Please drop us a note when you visit Korea. Again, thank you very much for sharing your stories.
About to start a business by foreign entrepreneurs in the Netherlands can be very frustrating. Even the dutch people can hardly read the papers due the fact that almost nobody can understand what the meaning of these papers are.....a big guessing.....
I do set up companies for foreign entrepreneurs and I do always warn them by saying; Welcome in the next 3rd world country called the Netherlands!
Yes, you know Tamara and Milan Vis! (it's~~ a small world after all~~) I am glad that you are from VU. You're my 선배(a senior alumnus) then :) It was a small but good school with smart students. I really wanted to stay more so I got an internship at LG Europe but they failed in getting me a work permit. Still remember how sad I was when leaving for Korea. :'(
I am surprised that Dutch society is that conservative. Sounds like Korea almost(except 9-5 office hour. Korea is like 9-8). But, why there are no day care facilities ?? STRANGE! Even Korean government and companies trying to build more and more of them. Society is so male driven that there's no market for day care centers? or people just hire babysitters..
I could imagine how tough it was to manage your business as a single mom. It's a truly admirable job you did. How many employees do you have?
"Welcome to the new 3rd world country "--> that's funny. Who would imagine that? : )
There are daycarecentres but just pointed out earlier its not fitted for the type of jobs most woman do have. Alot women do work in 24hrs-service-orientated jobs like nurses, caretakers for elderly people, etc etc. Also the most jobs in shops, supermarkets and so on are mainly occupied by female staff. These type entreprises having openings hours until 20.00 or even 22.00hrs every day. So if the average daycare-centre just wrap up around 18.00hrs.....well where are you leaving your kids then after 18.00hrs?
Also these type of jobs are often only offered as parttime jobs. And alot of extra benefits which comes with a fulltime job (regulated often by workers-union(s)) doesn't have to be paid to parttime jobs. The NL-government should play a much more active role in this.
Although the recent years there have been a big expansion of private proffessional daycare-centres, still there is a waiting list. And even now with a tax deduction monthly for parents depending on your income, its not really profitable for many women. They are still paid lower wages for the same type of work done by men. (3rd world country, yes it is!).
Then lets take it to the next level:
If SME-businesses could benefit more from attractive company-tax deduction for hiring single parents so childcare would be more within your reach....well that will change alot for (female) single parents and for the identity for SME-businesses as well. Nowadays with so much more individualistic way of life we simply do not always have a wide circle of family/relatives where we can lean on......just like what is right now happening in Korea.
Your professor is right but only partly: Until mid eighties it was a good life in the Netherlands for the most of us and compatible with Canada. Thats why so many dutchies went over sea to start a new life in Canada. But since then the education system & social welfare system has dramatically changed in the Netherlands.
We are still 'open and 'liberal' but to a certain degree. Maybe you heard of our politician Geert Wilders? Very very rightwing. Not everything he says is nonsense but itsays something now about the "culture' in the Netherlands nowadays.
Maybe now is Canada a better place to live instead of the Netherlands. Womens participation in work and business over here could be much better.....in comparison to scandinavian countries for instance.
That definitely explains the why I was suddenly encountering more dutch people in the late 80's & 90's.
From your previous description, I'd say that Canadian women DEFINITELY have a much better "deal" in terms of work / business & politics.
It was really interesting interview for me as I used to be the global businessman in Busan, Korea.
I was shocked for the concept of your future business relate to Korea’s background with full of energy.
I was used to have global business over the world in IT filed since 2005.Wish to have a chance to build more relationship with you to boost your business concept
Wow~ that's some piece of interview im interested in~ My wife also spend over 4 years in Ntherlands when studying there, and I am thinking of moving there after few years. That business culture and atmosphere is totally unknown to me, and i am sure that lnking Korea to netherlands has lots of benefit (just as i know Samsung I'Park is doing with Dutch designers). One good aspect working between EU and Korea is that you have a 24h running business (when one country is sleeping - or drinking- , the other one is at work ^^).
Anyhow~ great job and great demonstration of courage~ and mum of 4!!!! goshhhhhh~
Yes indeed, koreans likes to start their business first through a country likewise the Netherlands. The Netherlands is not too big to have a proper start up and in many ways NL has a multicultural environment. I heard from a previous LG President that he liked much more to be in NL then way back in his previous job at LG HQ in London for instance. Less discrimination towards asian persons in general.
All in all I did sound maybe a little bit too negative about the dutch culture in my previous comments but i like to show to "foreigners" the "real" part of the dutch culture as well. I do not want to cover up anything ;-) , my dutch friends call me quite often "brutally honest" & "you're so NOT asian!"
According to your occupation written down in your profile, I do think there are certain possabilities over here in NL. Coincidentely I have friends working in the same field as you do.
Thank you for your positive comment on my interview.