Friday, July 18, 2014

Vintage MacGregor Golf, and Craftsmanship that Endures

It was time for a Golf article.

Vintage MacGregor
Walking into a curio and antique shop in Golden, Colorado, my attention was drawn to an aged golf bag. A hand-written sign priced the clubs and irons at $3.00 each.

Working extensively in the golf sector, I attend high profile and prestigious events, such as the annual PGA Show in Orlando and last October the President’s Cup in Columbus, Ohio. More so, I provide daily support to retailer Golfsmith for their entry into the South Korea market with Korean partner Golfzon. As a result, I am often given the opportunity to try the latest cutting edge clubs, both those in development and those on the market.

Pleasantly surprised, I found the time-battered golf bag contained clubs and irons branded MacGregor. In short order, I grabbed a 4 Wood and a 3 Iron and became the proud owner of classic 50s clubs.

Don Southerton and MacGregor 4 Wood
MacGregor Golf, which began making clubs in 1897, pioneered many of the advances in golf equipment. MacGregor’s prowess as a maker of forged blades was passed down from one generation of heralded craftsmen to the next.
Ad from the late 1950s
The MacGregor name, however faded over time. Fortunately the respected brand was acquired by a company I know well-- retailer Golfsmith International. Today, Golfsmith offers a revamped lineup of drivers, irons, wedges, and putters.

Now the “new clubs” are displayed prominently in my Golden, Colorado office. I must say, they feel and swing great. The classic 4 Wood and 3 Iron may be aged and worn but the craftsmanship endures. 


Friday, July 11, 2014

Korean Global Business, Golf and Cars

This week i'm stringing together...some quotes. 

Don Southerton
"Among them includes powerhouse Bridging Culture Worldwide, global consulting firm dedicated to market entry into Korea’s business economy."

Golfsmith Korea, Paju
"Wonder who helped US Korea Connect with this Success Story?"

"Don, You are a wealth of knowledge. I greatly appreciate you so freely sharing your expertise in Korean economy and business environment "


Monday, June 16, 2014

Seoul’s Travel Library—Haven for Both Armchair and Intrepid Trekkers

The Travel Library, Hyundai Card’s new brand experience, was at the top of my “to do” list as I ventured from the hotel to explore Seoul during my most recent trip to Korea. An affiliate of the Hyundai Motor Group, Hyundai Card offers a number of exclusive benefits to their cardholders—most often with breakthrough creativity to raise brand awareness. For example, in 2006, Hyundai Card unveiled PRIVIA, a web-based shopping mall, which offers various products and services exclusively to members. The company also in past years sponsored a Lady Gaga performance and they continue to promote regular summer concert series headlined by rock legends, including Metallica, Iggy Pop and Ozzie Osborne.

Similar to their Design Library, which showcases design culture from around the world, the Travel Library is now home to 94,324 books and 14,700 volumes of publications with a focus on the Arts, Architecture, Adventure and Travel Photography.

Don Southerton Hyundai Card
Store Front
Re-confirming the location on my Google map app and arriving there with little effort, the library has an eye catching storefront on a side street in the trendy Cheongdam area of Gangnam. Once inside and explaining my interest to the staff, the manager was kind enough to provide a personalized tour.

Don Southerton Korea
Travel Cave
Conceptually, the uber cool design featuring vaulted wood ceilings and a maze-like layout provides a truly unique “travel cave” experience, beckoning one to explore further. With tightly packed floor- to-ceiling walls of books, archetypical chairs from around the globe and a world class café, the space provides an armchair haven for the novice tourist or the seasoned trekker.

World Cafe
The library collection was compiled by a distinguished team of travel industry media professionals who acted as curators. The entire set of the 126-year-old National Geographic magazine is housed in the library. Another hidden treasure pointed out by my guide is the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch collection. Reaching back to the early 1900s, the collection has long been a valuable source of Korean culture and history through the eyes of the first Westerners living and traveling in Korea. Reminiscing, I recall tracking down the volumes of publication in the basement archives at USC and the University of Colorado for my Korea facing historical writing projects. Outside Korea, the complete collection is rarely found all in one location and is typically neglected and in poor condition.

Enhancing the experience is the travel memorabilia décor. This includes several world globes—one thought to be from the World War II era, well-worn travel trunks, and even a prominently displayed old style airport flight board that is synchronized with the modern digital display at Incheon International Airport.

Stepping back for a moment and gazing at the library, I pondered on how this dedicated space to travel actually would connect its visitors to Hyundai Card’s brand image. It is apparent that the company strives to go beyond common perception of what a credit card provider offers its customers. With this in mind, I feel the Library is the perfect platform to showcase the Hyundai Card brand in an original way. Based on my understanding of the brand, I would expect something different and out of the box, visually appealing, and delivered in a very refined design. The Library certainly does match these corporate creative guidelines. For their customers taking advantage of the exclusive service, I feel many would find the Library exceeding expectations not only as a travel resource, but also as a haven in a fast paced urban Seoul.

In a recent Korea Times’ interview, Lee Mee-young, senior vice president of Hyundai Card's Brand Division, shared that the company is also planning a third library in Hannam-dong in northern Seoul. Mr. Lee noted, "The theme for the third library is not fixed yet. But we will put our customers' appetites such as music and food as a top priority when we decide on the next theme.”

Until my next adventure in Seoul, Bon Voyage, or in Korean—An nyeong ha sae yo—go in peace.

About the author Don Southerton
With a life-long interest and a frequent traveler to Korea, Southerton has authored numerous publications and articles centering on the Korean global business. His firm Bridging Culture Worldwide provides strategy, consulting and training to Korea-facing global business, including long time support of the Hyundai Motor Group. His most recent publication is Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed. His current work looks at Korean corporate brand image and direction.


For more info, questions, comments, etc. 


Saturday, June 07, 2014

Hyundai MotorStudio—Blending Modern Premium and Auto-culture Inspired Opus

Located near a number of impressive high prestige car dealerships such as BMW and Audi, the Hyundai MotorStudio stands at a major intersection of Seoul’s style and fashion Gangnam district.  However, the MotorStudio differs from the competition in that its purpose is to share the Hyundai brand direction of “modern premium”. I have come to understand this to be a set of values less about luxury cars but more of striving to go beyond what customers expect in merging performance with reasonable pricing and fluid style.

Photo Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company
Having also supported the Group’s manufacturing plants, my first impression as I explored the building’s galleries was that the industrial metallic décor of steel pipes and anodized steel panels reflects the brand’s solid auto production roots. That said, after sipping a latte in its trendy Paul Bassett café overlooking sculptures by global media artist group United Visual Artists, my impressions softened and shifted to one of introspection.

A calming venue amid the hustle and bustle of Seoul and vibrant Gangnam, the MotorStudio is a showcase for the brand and product. In particular Hyundai Motor Company’s public platform connects the brand image and vision with similar and inspiring automotive-related design, artwork, and opus. I look forward to future visits to Seoul and watching the MotorStudio and the brand evolve over time.

Each floor of the six story building showcases aspects of the brand.

Photos Courtesy of the Author
Along with an extensive collection of car culture and Hyundai-related books neat memorabilia are added features of the Library.

For more Visit:

About the Author  Don Southerton

With a life-long interest in Korea and the rich culture of the country, Southerton has authored numerous publications and articles centering on the Korean auto industry. His firm Bridging Culture Worldwide provides strategy, consulting and training to Korea-based global business, including long time support of the Hyundai Motor Group. His most recent publication is Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Vintage Underwood Typewriter and Its Ties to Korea

By Don Southerton

My Vintage Underwood
I have long desired a vintage Underwood typewriter. In part, as a writer it calls back to a time of wordsmithing before the days of word processors and MacBook Pros. More personal, my second book Intrepid Americans: Bold Koreans looked at the origins of Korean entrepreneurialism. Western missionaries had a profound impact on their Korean congregations--preaching sermons with strong 19th century capitalist gospel underpinnings. Among the first missionaries dispatched to Korea was Horace Grant Underwood.

An excerpt from Intrepid Americans: Bold Koreans-Early Korean Trade, Concessions, and Entrepreneurship. iBooks.

God and Mammon

Thus do commerce and the Church go hand in hand, here [in Korea] as elseware, in forwarding His kingdom and spreading abroad the knowledge of the Prince of Peace.
—Horace G. Underwood, The Call of Korea, 1908
Fig. 7.8 Horace Grant Underwood
Instrumental in fostering the development of Korean business and capitalism was the work of Protestant missionaries in Korea. To some Koreans, Protestantism was a path to national salivation, economic self-strengthening, and progress. By the 1890s, Dr. Allen by then head of the American diplomatic legation in Seoul, and others, began stressing the vibrancy of western technology, capitalism, and civilization over Korean orthodoxy. Essentially, the changes and reforms to the Korean socio-economic landscape coupled with Church policy of egalitarianism impacted those of the lower and commoner classes, not to mention women and the oppressed such as the paekchông (butchers and meat handlers). Many Koreans hindered for eons from social and economic mobility by a rigid social stratification embraced Protestant teaching, western education, and western thinking, as they searched for opportunity in the newly restructured society.

Within this climate of change, the missionaries specifically targeted merchants, lower level government officials, clerks, technicians, and professionals. It was hoped that members of the newly emerging middle class with some financial means would form the backbone of the Korean Protestant church. This group of Koreans worked for businessmen like Collbran [an westerner i discuss extensively in the book] during the week and attended church on Sundays—church services that saw poverty as sinful, and praised worldly gains. In other words, weekdays and work served as opportunities for ambitious Koreans to learn western business and technological skill, while Sunday sermons drenched them with the missionaries’ capitalist gospel.

Adding to the dynamics, American industrialism also funded much of the Church’s missionary movement—a uniting of God and gold. For example, British-born Horace Grant Underwood who had grown up in upstate New York came from a religious and prosperous business family. Underwood’s older brother John grew the family ink manufacturing business into the highly successful Underwood Typewriter Company, which funded much of Horace’s work in Korea. Underwood’s rivals in Korea even called him the millionaire missionary. (see Fig. 7.8 and 7.9) In fact, missionaries including Underwood at times ventured into trade, importing kerosene, farming implements, and manufactured goods. This suggests that Koreans who were interested in learning about business and capitalism not only found role models in western concessionaries and traders, but also drew familiarity, support, and encouragement from the Protestant clergy.
Fig. 7.9 Early Underwood Print Ad