Thursday, May 28, 2020

South Korea Hancom Group Unveils Hancom Office 2020—Their Newly Feature-Enhanced Office Productivity Suite

By Don Southerton, Hancom Global Corporate Communications and PR 
In a move set to advance operations and support the company’s aggressive growth, Hancom Group, South Korea’s leading ICT company has announced the North American release of flagship product ‘Hancom Office 2020.’ 

Previously, Hancom has been most well-known internationally for the default mobile office suite experience in Samsung Galaxy/DeX devices and a long-time technology partnership with AWS WorkDocs supplying a cloud-based collaborative document editor.

More cost-effectively than with any other office suite available today, and a smart alternative to Microsoft 365, new enhancements for the Hancom Office 2020 product lineup include word processor Hancom Office Word, spreadsheet Cell, presentation Show, and PDF. Most importantly, as a part of ongoing efforts for enterprise customers, this update facilitates interoperability by improving the spreadsheet’s Excel compatibility significantly by adding advanced support for pivot tables, charts, formulas, and macros.

Setting the stage for collaboration, Hancom Office 2020 also strengthened its link with Hancom Space, a cloud-based storage and web office. Hancom Space, a cloud service that allows you to edit Hancom Office documents via Internet access, even on a PC without Hancom Office, allows users to save and share documents created on Hancom Office 2020 directly in Hancom Space. In turn, you can edit a document you created in Hancom Space on Hancom Office.

Adding value, too, a cost-saving and a new feature of the suite, Hancom Office 2020 now offers a new built-in PDF application that provides an essential tool for PDF use and includes annotation, merging, and extracting. It also allows you to convert any existing PDF documents into Word, Excel or PowerPoint files and then edit and reuse your PDF files. With this feature, there is no need for a separate PDF editor required by other products in the market as users can edit and author all common office documents formats.

Regarding the product launch, Sungjun Byun, Chief Executive Officer of Hancom, said, “Building upon decades of experience supplying the office productivity suite to Korean enterprises, SMBs, educational institutions and government, Hancom Office 2020 is built to meet the diverse demands of global customers regardless of size or sector.”

Dr. Peter Wonsok Yun, President of Global Business, Hancom Group notes, “With the New Normal Post COVID-19 workplace, Hancom Office 2020 will unleash your creativity and enhance your productivity more cost-effectively than with any other office suite available today.”

A free 30-day trial version is available for download at  And the subscription license and a lifetime license are available for purchase now.


Monday, May 18, 2020

New Normal Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Market Entry

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

'Smart Work' and COVID-19 Transforming the Workplace in South Korea

My most recent article in Branding in Asia.

South Korea: Smart Work and COVID-19 Transforming the Workplace 
By Don Southerton

With the COVID-19 New Normal from video chat platforms to office productivity and cloud-based software, the shift to working remotely is now seen as a convenient alternative to in-person communication, the office and commerce. 

In this article, we will look at how Koreans post-COVID-19 may come to accept remote working (also referred to in Korea as “smart work”), as an option to the traditional on-site model. In February and March government agencies and companies across South Korea opted to keep workers home in what can be seen as a mass experiment with the remote work system—the intent to flatten the spread of COVID-19. As the threat passed, and methods to control the spread of the virus proved effective, companies soon called for their homebound teams return to their offices.

In a nation with little experience with teams working remotely, responses are mixed—some now strong advocates perceiving themselves more productive and efficient, while others feel working from home meant longer hours tied to technology and little boundaries between work and personal time. 

With the post-coronavirus shift back to the office, the pros and cons of work-from-home will be subject to scrutiny and comparison with the day to day work culture still heavily rooted in on-site interaction and interpersonal contact.

One issue that did not hamper work from home was Korea’s Internet infrastructure robustness even as the demand for telecommuting solutions rapidly increased.

Unlike underdeveloped countries, Korea was not limited by a lack of state-of-the-art technology. A number of Korean and multinational information technology companies were able to provide top-notch smart work services, with many large firms like the Hyundai Motor Group having long had their own internal communications systems.

More so, Korean domestic ICTs like the Hancom Group have since the 1990s offered a suite of office productivity software platforms. Originally developed for the home Korean market in their indigenous language Hangul, the software now has English as well as other language options. Plus, as an attractive alternative to Microsoft 365, Hancom offers several Cloud-based products, including Hancom Space and Hancom DocsConverter. [Source:]

Not Alone
Korea tech brands like Naver, too, saw considerable demand. The tech giant which offers Line Works, a popular telecommuting software, witnessed a huge spike in usage during the peak of Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak. The company added that its video conference calls technology saw a sevenfold increase during the same period.

The Big Question
As most of Korea has returned to working on-site, the big question remains open as to whether working remotely and adopting smart work systems will become an option and part of the new normal.

As I noted in my book Korea 2020, A Workplace in Transition that was released earlier this year, there has been a considerable effort to offer a flexible working environment. Many of Korea’s top Groups have transitioned their corporate policy for rigid older norms to open dress codes, flexible work hours, and are adopting a more horizontal and creative work culture.

Increasingly, Korean companies, particularly those dedicated to technology and mobility have sought to become adaptive and agile global players. Adding to this, we are finding that the strong hierarchical corporate culture is being challenged by the growing number of millennials. It is no surprise that some millennials are leaving their corporate jobs to pursue freelance work and are very open to working remotely. 

That said, even as Korea’s workplace culture has progressed, we are seeing push back on working remotely—some executives still prefer their teams to work on-site and are expressing concerns about employees’ work ethic and output.  

On an encouraging note, South Korea’s leading game and online service provider NHN Corp. just announced it has decided to take its remote work experiment further by making Wednesdays their official “work remote day .” The move comes after overwhelmingly positive feedback from NHN and their affiliates' employees.  [Source:  ]

A Second Look
Perhaps Korean companies should take a second look into creating a smart working environment. Accepting remote work systems that have been embraced in the West will depend greatly on whether companies and society are willing to bring such corporate and cultural changes.. Businesses can improve ROI and save on overhead and rental costs for their offices. Workers, for their part, can reduce their hours’ long commutes and experience increased productivity, as well as foster a better life-work balance. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way people work and their perceptions about work. The virus crisis could provide an opportunity for Korean companies to re-visit and re-evaluate the benefits of smart work approaches to the workplace.


Saturday, May 09, 2020

Deep-Tech: An Israel-South Korea Webinar Invitation

Monday, May 04, 2020

South Korea COVID-19 Recovery, Everyday Distancing, Restaurants Cafes, and Bars

This is the third in my series for Branding in Asia on South Korea—A Roadmap to COVID-19 Economic Recovery.  In Part 3, we look at Everyday Distancing, Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars.

South Korea – A Roadmap to COVID-19 Economic Recovery: Part 3 Everyday Distancing 

May 4, 2020
In this third segment COVID-19 recovery series, we again look at how South Korea as a first-mover is tackling one sector highly impacted worldwide—the Food and Beverage industry.

As noted, Korea appears to have reined in the outbreak without some of the strict lockdown strategies deployed elsewhere in the world. 

Everyday Distancing

Amid concerns for the second wave of infection, South Korea has set recommendations for ways the country can practice “everyday distancing” that would introduce more sustainable lifestyle changes rather than temporary campaigns. 

As part of the guidelines, it recommends that people minimize time spent in restaurants and cafes, sit at least 1 meter from other patrons, and be seated in a row or in a zig-zag to avoid directly facing each other.

Still, the economy and businesses like restaurants, coffee shops, and bars have suffered. Although Korea never experienced mandated widespread closures, Koreans pro-actively stayed away from eateries, bars, and Starbucks. The restaurants and bars did remain open, eagerly waiting for customers who seldom came.

Fast forward, in Korea everyday life today is now resembling something closer to normal. There are lines outside restaurants during lunchtime; malls are bustling, and the streets are busier.

As pointed out by Robert E. Kelly, a professor at Busan National University, many are returning to pre-COVID-19 practices, much the result of corona-fatigue.

As everywhere else, there is pressure to re-open. Everyone is bored and frustrated at home. Businesses are struggling. Families are frazzled at having the kids at home all day every day. People are putting on weight because they are watching too much TV and over-eating. All the same sort of complaints accumulating on social media in Western countries exist here too.

Indeed, corona fatigue set in earlier here. Korea’s clampdown began in mid-March, and one can already see the edges fraying. I see fewer masks on the subways. The lines to pick up government-distributed masks are shorter. Bars and restaurants are filling.

Pent Up Demand

Along with corona-fatigue, in response to pent up demand we are also seeing consumers back shopping—malls again busy. And, as a result in the past weekend, it was not uncommon at top shopping centers like Shinsegae Department Store, to see food courts with few empty tables. 

Likewise, at the Starbucks in the Starfield Mall in Goyang, the baristas were busy working through a backlog of 33 orders with those in line waiting more than 20 minutes to get an iced coffee. 

Looking to the Future

In addition to customers returning, we also see some positive signs as the major Korean food groups look to the future. 

Korea’s largest food company, the SPC Group, just announced that its affiliate SPC Samlip has acquired the exclusive Korea rights for Eggslut, a popular California egg sandwich franchise. Looking outside Korea, too, SPC also secured the license for Singapore.

The company said it will introduce the first Korean Eggslut in the popular Starfield Coex Mall located in Seoul’s Gangnam District in June 2020.

SPC, which in 2016 had launched US burger chain Shake Shack in Korea, said it will also expand further into the “fine-casual” dining market with brands like Eggslut.

Not alone in moving forward post-COVID-19, Yum Brand’s Taco Bell and their local partner KALISCO, too, just opened their newest fast food restaurant. Located on the 1st floor of the Seoul Express Terminal building, the site is one of the nation’s leading commuter transportation hubs.

One side benefit in the wake of the pandemic experienced by the casual Mexican food franchise is a 56 percent growth in delivery sales in February and March over January. 

Likewise, SPC and other franchise restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon, some via their own individual delivery platforms or delivery service apps. 

A takeaway, as everyday life moves closer to normal in South Korea, it seems best practices will include new ways to attract customers wary of coming into contact with others while dining out and adopting “everyday distancing.” This will lead to a more routine and sustainable lifestyle—one that will allow restaurants, cafes, and bars to again operate profitably. 

As businesses return to normal, it will also allow the potential for new brands to enter the market and current brands to grow.


Thoughts, Comments ?    We're always open to answering your questions and exploring new business opportunities. 
Don Southerton

Monday, April 27, 2020

South Korea—A Roadmap to COVID-19 Economic Recovery, Part 2 Industry and Automotive

Drilling Deeper

The Auto Sector

Strong Local Demand

Preserving the Workforce

Saturday, April 25, 2020

South Korea — A Roadmap to COVID-19 Economic Recovery

Global coverage for my article on COVID-19 and South Korea as a First Mover in economic recovery.

For many weathering stay at home and a remote office, how businesses will return to work weighs heavy on the minds of governments, employers, and workers worldwide. It’s a delicate balance between staying safe and an urgent need to re-open commerce.

For an economic recovery, South Korea could be a glimpse into future best practices.

The world has been watching and, in some cases, following as South Korea benefits from its social distancing guidelines, technology-powered testing, tracing and treatment, as well as measures to utilize data in fighting the virus.

How South Korea tackles rebooting their economy will also be closely followed — as Asia’s fourth-largest economy, it is considered a bellwether for world trade.

As a trial, in their recent election, South Koreans turned out in record numbers. The country after much discussion went ahead with elections as its massive and rapid testing and quarantine efforts have slowed the spread of COVID-19.

On one level the strong voter response is a sign of intense public interest in what may be seen as a referendum on President Moon Jae-in and his administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

Perhaps more insightful, as a first step in COVID-19 recovery, it appears to have pushed more citizens to cast their ballots.

I believe all efforts will now turn to economic recovery.

For me, this was very apparent in recent in Zoom calls and correspondence with Seoul.

In one example following the election, a Korean colleague asked what was needed as the next step into jump-starting our marketing outreach for a stalled product launch. More so, sensing the urgency and some pressure, they shared leadership’s new and rather hefty quarterly goals for the product launch.

In another instance on a call with a team, senior leadership jumped in to get an update on a number of global business outreaches made in the last few weeks — leadership then asked to move forward ASAP with whatever support was needed from their teams and HQ.

Stepping back and pondering some, I feel we all need to have a plan in place — and be positioned to move forward fast.

As business and commerce recover, agreements will probably be revisited, terms subject to renegotiations, and above all expect partner and leadership requests for a detailed localized Recovery Plan!

To this, I’d add that it’s best to include some countermeasures for recovery.

In weeks to come, and as economies emerge from COVID-19, early movers like South Korea may provide much-needed roadmaps for recovery and implementing return to work plans.

That said, we can assume recovery will be gradually phased-in, vary by location, industry sector, and the overall local health status.

It also will require continued social distancing, expanded use of personal protective equipment, and other preventative health measures.