Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Death of Hoi Shik (회식)


Death of Hoi Shik (회식)


Korea has traditionally been a highly cohesive and homogeneous society and socializing with colleagues has been an integral part of the office for generations. In the modern era, the firm provided employment (tacitly guaranteed for life), status and a social network for leisure time activity. People worked long hours and dedicated tremendous effort to raising the country out of poverty into the modern nation it is today.  Employees were fiercely loyal and took great pride in the firm's performance.  Bonding was strengthened and work stress relieved and colleagues often went out after work, quaffed soju and gorged on samgyupsal (cheap liquor and grilled pork bellies). Periodically, senior managers and executives hosted their team to meals and drinks as a team-building exercise. These invitations were often impromptu with the manager announcing at or near quitting time, "We are having drinks tonight" and any previous plans anyone had going out the window.  Employees felt compelled to participate in these sessions as opting out was perceived as disloyalty and could undermine chances for promotion.  Furthermore, a decent meal and unlimited drinks at the company's expense were often welcome. The sessions resembled a 'pub crawl' as men followed up dinner with visits to subsequent establishments for 2-cha, 3-cha or more, often arriving home well lubricated late at night (or early the next morning). Collectively, these events are known as hoi shik (group dining or company dining) and helped solidify Korea’s reputation as a drinking culture.


Source: pixbay

It is hard to pinpoint the moment when things began to change.  Perhaps it started with the Asian financial crisis of 1997 / 1998.  Major layoffs undermined company loyalty.   Firms were under financial stress and had to cut costs. After recovering from the crisis, many managers tried to buy back loyalty by reviving the practice but dropouts began to grow more frequent. Many people lost their jobs and corporate cohesion was weaker.  One's friends were no longer all employees of the one firm. Over time, social changes further undermined the practice.  Female employees, very much in the minority, were frequently hassled (and worse) at hoi shik by drunk, older colleagues.  Health consciousness grew and the ill effects of frequent overdrinking (and over eating) raised concerns. The family unit became increasingly important and younger employees, in particular, resented staying out and getting drunk on inexpensive liquor. Individualism undermined conformity.  Companies too began to recognize productivity losses arising from badly hungover staff. Tax law changed limiting the amount companies could write off for entertainment expenses.  The 1:1:9 slogan appeared, 1 location, 1 type of alcohol and home by 9 pm.  Hoi shik began to evolve into team lunches (without alcohol). 


Source: pixbay


With the hoi shik already an endangered species, it is possible that COVID-19 will be its death knell. Social distancing rules have severely curtailed socializing. Crowded indoor spaces are breeding grounds for super spreader events. Restaurants are closing earlier and limiting the size of each party. As a result of cultural changes in Korea and an ongoing pandemic, the practice of going out after work with colleagues, night after night (and mass-murdering brain cells) may have gone the way of the dinosaur.  And that is something to be celebrated.  Cheers!


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Friday, April 16, 2021

Baby Fair 16 April 2021


Infant Items and Content Market in Korea


The market for baby products and services has been growing even though the number of new-born babies has been dramatically decreasing.


Source: Statistics Korea


Source: Korea Institute for Industrial economics & Trade


In 2020, Korea recorded fewer than 200,000 new-born babies, the lowest for more than 50 years. The number of people opting out of marriage and married couples choosing not to have babies are increasing resulting in a total fertility rate of 0.84 in 2020.  This means that a Korean female between the ages of 15 to 49 is expected to deliver only 0.84 babies.


IRC Consulting visited Cobe Baby Fair, one of the biggest off-line exhibitions in Korea in April 2021. The consultant observed new characteristics of the market at the fair.


Service market

Infant products market growth has plateaued due to the decrease of new-born babies. However, new services for infants and parents are growing. There are many service providers such as baby insurance, education & training, and assistance for new mothers.



Intellectual property is playing a bigger role in infants related market. IP includes characters, education methodologies, theme parks and others. Toys are closely related to characters, stories and education methodologies. Contents need to achieve 2 goals, catching babies’ eyes and maintaining their interest, and providing educational.



The number of attendees was much smaller than at previous fairs. This is probably because expectant mothers and the parents of infants were much more careful about avoiding COVID-19 infection.

Off-line, in-person exhibitions and businesses are expected to return to normal with the rollout of vaccines and the decline of the pandemic. However, we can expect that baby related industries will remain 'untact' for longer and lag behind other sectors as parents of infants exhibit an overabundance of caution in avoiding exposure to the virus.

The 40th annual Cobe Baby fair was held at COEX in Seoul from 15 April ~ 18 April 2021.  


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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Seoul International Electric Fair (SIEF) 2021


Korea Energy Industry

Exhibitions: Seoul International Electric Fair 

Electricity Illuminates the World

Location: COEX

Date: 7 April 2021 ~ 9 April 2021

Participants: Over 200 companies in Energy industry 


l  Korea is heavily dependent on imports of energy (about 97%)

l  As the electric power system is geopolitically isolated, it is impossible to export and import energy to and from neighboring countries. South Korea is in peninsula and has North Korea in the north.

l  Production of electric power is concentrated in southern provinces and consumption is concentrated in the metropolitan area in the north. And long-distance transport of electric power is essential.

l  With these conditions, large investments are required to build electric power grid in Korea.


Market Structure

l  There is large 6 power generation companies which are subsidiaries of Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) and relatively small independent power producers.

l  KEPCO transports the electric power it purchased from the Korea Power Exchange through transmission and distribution network and sells to customers.


he sectors Koreans consider important in the future in energy industry are as follows.


l  AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure)

l  Smart City

l  ESS (Energy Storage System)

l  EVC (Electric Vehicle Chargers)

l  Smart Grid

l  Renewable Energy



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2021 Official Korean Holidays


National Holidays in Korea
2021 Official Korean Holidays





January 01

New Year’s Day

First day of the New Year is celebrated




(Lunar New Year)

Is to celebrate Lunar New Year 1st day of the 1st Lunar month is one of the most important traditional holidays. Most businesses are closed and people take a few days off to visit their hometowns to enjoy time with family.


March 01

Independence Movement Day

Is to commemorate the declaration of independence. Special ceremony at the TapGol Park.


May 5


Children‘s Day

A day for children and parents to spend quality time together.


May 19

Buddha’s Birthday

8th day of the 4th Lunar month on the lunar calendar. Special event related to parades and lanterns.


June 6

Memorial Day

Is to honor the soldiers who protected the country with thier lives. Ceremony held at the National Cemetery.


August 15

Liberation Day

Is to celebrate the liberation of Korea.


September 20


September 22

(Korean Thanksgiving)

Is to celebrate the harvesting and thanksgiving. 15th day of the 8th Lunar month is one of the most important traditional holidays. Most people take a few extra days off to visit their hometowns and enjoy time with family.


October 03

National Foundation Day

Celebrate the founding of the Korean nation. Also, pronounced as ‘Gaecheonjeol’ meaning the day the heavens open.


October 09

Hangeul Day

Is to celebrate the Korean alphabet.


December 25


Is to celebrate Christmas


** The date is based on 2021; Seollal and Chuseok are based on the lunar calander, therefore has a change in dates every year.

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