By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Senior Editors Choe Nam-suk, Mme. Cho Kyung-hee, Reporters Kim Jung-mi, Paul Kim (Kim Do-kyun)
The Bastille Day of France 2019 in Seoul was celebrated on the Dung-Dung-Seom ‘Floating Island’ on the southern bank of the Han River near the southern end of the Grand Banpo Bridge in Seoul on the evening of July 12, 2019.
Ambassador Fabien Penone of France in Seoul and several hundred Korean, French and other expatriate VIP guests attended the party on the ‘floating island’ on the Han River enjoying the mouth-watering French cuisine and drinks as well as the company.The celebration was hosted by the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) in partnership with the French Embassy in Seoul and the French Cultural Institute, which is one of the biggest events of the year for the French-Korean community.
The Korea Post won a few minutes out of the hectic time of the host, Chairman David-Pierre Jalicon of the FKCCI. Excerpts follow:
Question: Please tell us about this event.
Answer: Tonight’s event is about the celebration of the French National Day. So, the driving force is at the 14th of July. This party is not only for France but also for Korea because we want to share this French celebration with all our friends because this celebration is about having friendly relations. Korea is very meaningful to us. So we are to share a little bit about our 3 values of liberty, equality and fraternity and at the same time, we are to share good product, food and wine from France. So I think everyone will agree with that and plus, if you will be with us, we will do the fireworks.
Q: Please introduce briefly on the National Day of France.
A: On the National Day, we celebrate the French revolution which occurred in 1789 and we call it the Bastille Day because it is a symbol. Bastille Day is a case of freedom of the French people. In France it was the start of the civic right and this is the first time French revolution was established in France and this is as well what we cherish. I think France set up an example for many other countries so that’s why we are glad to invite many participants from France who share this symbol.
Korea is a big democracy and it is a land of free will and I think this is really something that gathers us.
Q: Please introduce the activities of the FKCCI.
A: About the activities of the chamber, first one would be reacting to the Korean market to give opportunities to our members, to a business opportunity. The second one would be that we give visibility to our partners like this event, we give visibility to show-case those who sponsor our event.
Tonight is a casual event but sometimes we have events related to business with some of the opportunity to present the excellence of France concerning the activities where the French and Koreans can have time to mingle together to perform as one—hopefully to gather for a rich business opportunity. And the last one is to give support to all members whenever there is some issue regarding recognition, access opportunities.
The French National Day, as was introduced by Chairman Jalicon of the FKCCI, commemorates the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, a turning point of the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14th July 1790.
We are here to advise and help them succeed in their business and finding opportunities. When we open a business center, we have 18 business companies who are the incubators to bring themselves more and more into the Korean market.
The welcoming and champagne cocktail reception was made more enjoyable with the performance of accordionist performance by Jéhee.After the success of last year celebration, the host reserved the Villa de Noche to the Convention Hall, the whole second floor to create a festive atmosphere and good vibes for the Korean, French and international guests.
The moderator was the all-popular Ms. Ida Daissu who stunned the Korean guests with her impeccable Korean and French emceeing. Fireworks, delicious French food, wine and champagne, music performance, and lucky draw made the Bastille Day of France celebration in Seoul a perfect, unique and unforgettable night.
The party was opened by Chairman Aussy Jalicon of the FCCIK and toast was offered by His Excellency Ambassador Fabien Penone of France in Seoul.
The cocktail buffet dinner was extremely delicious and the guests seemed to fully enjoy the wonderful repast as well as the company, mostly Korean and French, from all walks of life, but conspicuously young and well-dressed in summer attire. They were a true treat to the eye not only of the guests at the party but also all the other people, thousands of them, enjoying the French air out of the sultry summer night heat on the southern bank of the Han River. National anthems of Korea and France were presented vocally by Ms. Alley X Jéhee.
Then there as a display of fireworks, which ‘embroidered’ the night sky of the Banpo area with beautiful ‘flowers and blossoms’ of lights. All but all the guests came out of the party room onto the open-air decks of the floating Island of Dung-Dung-Som.
The music by Alley X Jéhee, Jazz Band, was also wonderful—adding to the pleasant and exciting ambiance of the party.
There were a lot of goodies to eat and drinks to enjoy offered by the sponsors for a very, very low price—to the degree of almost free.
So, who made the generous donations? Yes, there also were a lot of free drinks of all kinds.
The sponsors for the food and beverage included: Jam by Andros, cheese by Bel Cheese, soft and water by Evian and Ocean Spray, delicatessen by France Gourmet, champagne by G.H. MUMM, beer by 1664 Blanc, crêpes by Le Monde des crêpes, soft by Orangina, cookies by Saint Michel, and cider by Sassy.
France is a very special country to Korea. France is a standing member of the Security Council of the United Nations and an important country who led the integration of Europe as well as a leader in the major global issues such as promotion of peace, human rights, climate change and development of cooperation through close cooperation at the United Nations, NATO, G and G20.
In addition, there was a 100,000-won gift for everyone. Someone said among the guests, “Wow! It got an ‘Online Premium Coupon’ for 100,000 won!” In fact, however, it was not only for him but for everyone at the party.
In addition to the ‘real-bargain’ goodies (too many things to carry) for the 60,000 won entrance fee, there was a sumptuous buffet dinner with all kinds of beverage—the delicious French fare and all.
According to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France is also a country of art and the Number One tourist destination country in the world with many world’s top brand products.
France is also the world’s best tourist destination country and the fifth top economic power of the world as well as a leader in various advanced industrial fields, including space and aeronautics, speed train, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and nuclear energy.
Korea introduced nuclear power generation technology from France in the 1980s and the French high-speed train in the 1990s.
Korea and France signed a trade and friendship agreement in 1886 and the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was established in the French Concession in Shanghai, China, shortly after the Samil Independence Movement of Korea on March 1, 1919.
During the Korean War of 1950-3, France sent a total of 3,241 soldiers to fight on the side of the Republic of Korea and the United Nations Forces for the defense of freedom and democracy of South Korea.
A regular member of the Security Council of the United Nations, France has been closely cooperating with the ROK and the international community for the promotion of security and peace on the Korean peninsula.
Q: Please elaborate on the details of the FKCCI, including its history:
A: Created in 1986, the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been evolving in response with the needs of Korea and the changes in both French and Korean economies towards a greater role of innovation, start-ups and SMEs recently.
Over the years, and especially since the 60s, France emerged as an increasingly important actor in Korea’s economic landscape. With 33 years of expertise, FKCCI became a key player in the French Korean business relationships and we have witnessed the diversification and intensification of French presence in Korea that can be summarized in 4 steps:
- the establishment of large French groups such as Airfrance, Airbus of Alstom in the 60s – 80s to develop infrastructures
- the diversification of French presence in the 90s, especially in consumption goods, as Korea started to get more opened and was in the spotlight due to the 1988 Olympic games
- From the end of the 90s and 2000, Korea was seen more as a partner: solid M&As and joint-ventures were formed such as Renault-Samsung, Shinhan BNP Paribas, ….
- After 2010, we are in the era of partnerships and SMEs triggered by the 2011 EU-KR FTA. From 200 members in 2011, the FKCCI jumped up to 350 members today and widened its network with Korean institutions!
Q: Please introduce outstanding activities to date and FKCCI, including its role for the strengthening the economic ties between Korea and France:
A: With 5 bn EUR French FDI in Korea, about 200 french companies in Korea which represent nearly 25,000 jobs and a 12,6 bn EUR turnover, the stakes of our presence here are significant. The FKCCI aims at representing the French Korean business community in Korea. Four keywords are important for the chamber: reactivity, visibility, networking and advocacy.
- We warn our members about the rapid changes of the Korean market and identify the right business opportunities. Thanks to our business consulting team, we help companies wishing to approach the French and Korean markets. We also created sectoral committees last year to gather our members by sector of interest (innovation, F&B, energy, luxury and so on…) so that they can share key market news and think about common interests and actions. Korea is a fast-moving market, so we need to move fast as well.
- Our members, which many of them are SMEs, don’t necessarily have the means to be visible. We provide them widely known communication channels: we have more than 25,000 followers on all our social networks and about 15,000 visits/months on our blogs and web platform, as well as publications (directory, business guides and economic news magazine) largely distributed.
- Beyond this, we are the node of the French Korean business network through many events such as economic seminars, luncheons with outstanding speakers but also the annual gala gathering 800 high-level guests!
- Finally, we are decrypting regulatory issues in the Korean market and represent French companies to gather their issues and share them with the relevant Korean authorities such as KOTRA, WTS, Korean customs and many ministries.
Q: What should be done to further strengthen the close economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries?
A: The context is favorable as France and Korea are like-minded countries: both are middle-sized democracies with strong economies focused on innovation. Many synergies are to be found in innovative sectors in the technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution. In the context of trade wars and unilateralism, France and Korea can lead a new business community, which can hopefully address today’s challenges of a more and more complex world organization. So, I do hope FKCCI will be an actor of creating this new business community. I’m quite optimistic, especially as the level of understanding and cultural exchanges between our two countries are quite high, as demonstrated during the French Korean cultural exchanges year 2015-20161.
1 https://www.pro.institutfrancais.com/en/programmes-and-projects/seasons-and-cross-yearsinthe framework of the cross-years of the French cultural institute
We can see as well that economic investments are becoming more balanced in between our two countries. For example, Korean conglomerates such as Naver have invested significantly in AI in France during the past few years. During Moon Jae-in’ s visit in France on October 2018, I also participated in the France-Korea business leaders and the France-Korea start-ups summit. During the latter, 7 French start-ups and 7 Korean start-ups made a pitch: I have never seen such vibrant desire for cooperation.
On the institutional level, cooperation is also well organized: all business support organizations between France and Korea have counterparts. For example, KIAT (Korea Institute of Advanced Technology) and Bpifrance (French investment bank) operate a program to financially support R&D projects mixing French and Korean technologies. I’m convinced that France and Korea can reach a new level of cooperation in strategic sectors such as aerospace, energy, agri-business, health and innovation for example.
Q: Please introduce your business objectives for this year.
A: One of our main objectives this year is to develop our offices to double the capacity of our business center. Indeed, we offer the possibility to host offices for French SMEs which minimizes the risks for them to invest locally. Beyond hosting, though our administrative support and access to our ecosystem, this business center operates like an incubator. We will develop more services linked to this incubator in the meantime.
Our second strategy is to develop our policy of inter-connecting FKCCI members with local authorities. That is why we have signed MOUs with Daegu, Daejeon or Incheon for example. France is a strong player in terms of decentralization, and I do believe that future French investors have to be well integrated with their local environment. In their daily business life, if they have an issue, they will need such interlocutor to help them.
That is why for our 30 years anniversary in 2016, we have designed a geolocalization web platform to visualize French business presence in Korea. This project is called “France in Korea XXI” (https://www.franceinkorea21.com/)2. Beyond the macroeconomic vision, it highlights in detail and practically the French presence in Korea, built by and for people. This human vision of doing business is a value that we cherish in our chamber.