Mrs. Kim Youn-hee runs one of Korea’s most successful advertising printing companies with her husband. Mrs. Kim is now President and CEO of Hankook Cutting and her husband, Kim Ju-jung serves as Vice President.
The Korea Post interviewed both CEO Kim and her husband. Mrs. Kim said she met her husband in college and fell into love with him. After graduating from college, they worked at a Seoul printing company together. Soon after, she moved out of the company and started her own business. Later, her husband joined the firm which has grown into Hankook Cutting which is located in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province.
Following is a summary of the interview:
Question: Hello, CEO Kim. My impression is your business is quite big with a lot of employees. Most of all, it is more interesting that you two are a business couple. Did you meet first while working at a printing firm?
Answer: Thank you for coming. We met as senior and junior at the same college. In 1992, I was a student of the printing department of Singu College in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. On the first day of lectures after summer vacation, I met Kim Ju-jung, our husband.
After graduating from college, we entered into Samhwa Printing Co. Ltd. My husband was in charge of advertising, while I belonged to the scanner room. Then I moved to an advertising agency first, and my husband also moved to a new, water-free, printing technology venture company four years later. I already started my own business when my husband moved out. After weighing his working experience and capability, I proposed to work with him. First of all, I recruited my husband as I hoped for creation of great synergy. I want to attribute our company’s impressive growth to my husband’s intelligence as well as his hard work.
Q: While you majored in printing, I think you started your own business early. Did you have any special reason?
A: I was working for a printing firm when Korea faced the financial crisis. My company went bankrupt and shut down. There were some pieces of equipment that the boss preferred at the time. The equipment included a cutting machine that was used to make advertising sheets, car seats, and product exhibition stickers. The boss may have thought I could make good use of the machine compared to other staffers. Obtaining the machine, I started what I call a one-man business. This was how today’s Hankook Cutting evolved.
Q: CEO Kim, where did you start at first?
A: Most of my fellow Koreans have settled down in Chungmu-ro (downtown Seoul) but I have found a place in Yangjae-dong, which is very far from there. At that time, I thought it was good to target niche market rather than a place where there was a lot of peerages because the economic conditions were bad. I think it was an excellent choice.
I couldn't afford to rent an office at first, so I got a corner and started small. Fortunately, the number of customers has increased as they have been satisfied with the results. We have come all the way here by scaling up and increasing equipment. I think it is a case of eye-opening progress.
Q: I think you upheld a special management principle to achieve today’s great growth. Could you tell us what it is?
A: “Trust.” I don't think it is too much to say that it is all about our company. We have achieved growth since we have done our best to meet the needs of our customers. At that time, a majority of our peers were out of business by 6 o'clock, but when we had urgent orders from our customers, we were ready to satisfy their needs.
My husband and I alternately stayed up all night trying to keep our promise to our customers. When I put printing materials in a delivery van at dawn, I was tired, but was in good spirits. I think our efforts to meet the requirements of our customers are the key to our growth.
Q: Vice President, what surprised me a little when I came into this office was the size of the printing equipment. I am sure this is a very special and very large piece of equipment. What is the main function of this equipment?
A: The large UV flat printer you are looking at is a new machine that was purchased for about a month. I visited a printing machine store in Belgium, where I saw a UV flat-panel printer. In view of overall market trends in Korea, I decided to buy the machine early this year.
The first feature is that the UV equipment is able to produce unlimited output on materials and media (e.g., glass, metal, fabric, tile, sheet metal, paper, ceramic corrugated cardboard, vinyl, leather, etc.) The equipment can also express the details that are so subtle and delicate in visual aspects.
The second feature is that the printing technology uses the effects of 3D lenses to create a more three-dimensional and recreate the space of the lenticular. In addition, the equipment can turn out distinct products of Hankook Cutting by combining the brand protection of common security printed materials, such as gift certificates, documents, cards, labels, and packages, with security programs to prevent unauthorized copying.
Mrs. Reinhilde Alaert, marketing manager at a Belgium printing equipment firm, once said she was impressed by CEO Kim and me when we met for the first time in Belgium two years ago. Since we are both majors in printing, I think we have special feelings for the printing sector and future market trends. Mrs. Alaert visited Korea directly from Belgium to support us when the equipment was set up and consolidated a partnership that allows us to work together under the best conditions for supplementation of equipment or support of software. As a leading advertising printing company that reads the trend, you will see that Hankook Cutting is equipped with advantages in talent, environment, machine, solution, and differentiated specialty.
Q: Vice President, I understand you teach at a university. What field do you cover?
A: I am a professor of graphic art of Singu College in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. I was admitted to Singu College in 1989 to study printing, but now the printing department has been changed to graphic art media. I specialize in digital content production and color management. Because printing has greatly improved and changed from analog to digital, I teach students to focus on acquiring practical knowledge and skills needed for the future.
Q: CEO Kim, can you tell us about the exceptional works that you have performed so far?
A: We have produced a lot of products and exhibited various types of works. All the results, small or big, are precious, but if you recall the moment you were impressed, one is a large print installation on the outer wall of Blue Square in Hannam-dong. In 2012, there was a contest called Theater Artwall at Interpark, and Lao Mei's work won the competition. They asked me to print it out and install it on the outside wall of that big Blue Square. It was 60 meters by 10 meters.
It was huge. Not only the output but also the processing was very difficult. The material used in the product was very different from the existing materials. It is a T-Bag from DuPont, and it is a new material for recycling. The day that I was printing out and installing the wide graphics work, I failed to calculate the load properly. It was a very frustrating and embarrassing. So we reworked immediately, and our team, who was back at the scene that evening, worked 26 hours. We gathered at 10 p.m. the night before and we didn't get to work until midnight the next night. At the end of the day, artist Laomi and all of us on the scene cheered each other and I was so moved by tears.
Q: CEO Kim, I understand many of your customers are global firms. What's interesting is that you have a lot of major brands. Could you explain?
A: Like all customers, the major brands always throw in just drawings and concepts. It is up to us to understand and implement them. A lot of the finished products may be regarded as simple things that anybody can do. However, being recognized by many large companies and small and medium-sized advertisers is the passion and responsibility of our meticulously solving details based on the full understanding and prior knowledge of handiwork. We also handle every work with rich experience of various materials, and try to provide better results based on trust built through accurate delivery compliance and perfect construction.