Interview with Chairman Choi Young-joo of PANKO Corp.
"PANKO Corp., a global clothing manufacturer, is a Korean company without labor disputes for 12 years since its establishment in Vietnam in 2002, despite the different culture and social environment," said Choi Young-joo, chairman of PANKO Corp.
"We are currently operating three local subsidiaries, including PANKO Vina, in Vietnam, but we are proud to have maintained good relationships with workers based on mutual trust and no labor disputes," PANKO Chairman Choi, who is also the third chairman of the Korea Vietnam Friendship Association, told The Korea Post Media.
The following is a summary of an interview with PANKO Chairman Choi, who is actively engaged in clothing manufacturing business in Vietnam as part of a special feature to commemorate Vietnam's 46th anniversary of the Unification Day on April 30, 2021.
Question: Would you tell me about the background and activities of PANKO Corp.?
Answer: PANKO Corp. started as a small clothing manufacturing and exporting company in 1984 and has grown into a global company with a total of 16,000 employees at home and abroad, six production bases in Vietnam and Myanmar and annual exports of some $350 million.
The Vertical Production Base, built in Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang, Vietnam, boasts the world's best status in terms of size, production capacity, and technology by having state-of-the-art production systems that handle knitting/dyeing/sewing processes.
Q: Please introduce the current status of the company's business.
A: PANKO is a global apparel manufacturer with state-of-the-art vertical systems (weaving, dyeing and sewing processes) in two Asian countries (Vietnam, Myanmar), five local subsidiaries and a total of seven production bases.
PANKO secures external competitiveness and pursues customer satisfaction by focusing on research and development, quality enhancement, cost reduction, and compliance with delivery deadline through continuous promotion of QDCS movement, which is a core competency of our company from the beginning of its business
PANKO supplies various knitwear products such as sweaters, jumpers, dresses, blouses and pants, as well as technical clothing such as sportswear, to major SPA companies and clothing brands at home and abroad through OEM or ODM methods.
Since its foundation in 1984, more than 300 employees of the PANKO headquarters in Seoul and 16,000 workers at overseas production bases have been working hard to explore the Japanese market and other global markets, producing and supplying various and excellent clothing products around the world.
Q: Please introduce your business philosophy.
A: Based on the management philosophy of " 敬天愛人 (Respect Sky and Love People)," PANKO actively helps needy people and contributes to local development funds every year, as well as actively practices eco-friendly management and ethical management, and actively conducts CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities for alienated neighbors in the community.
To this end, we are emphasizing the following 10 points as PANKO staff.
1. Set a high goal and make sure to achieve it.
2. Abandon the idea of no.
3. Learn from mistakes and enjoy new challenges.
4. Think positively.
5. Be curious.
6. Be humble and kind.
7. Listen carefully and listen carefully again.
8. Cooperate with each other.
9. Don't hide the problem and share it as soon as possible.
10. Read, learn, and record.
Q: What are your future business plans and visions?
A: We want to bring about positive changes in human life through our business. Under the PANKO’s belief that we exist to learn, challenge, make a difference, go beyond ourselves, we will make strenuous efforts to become a leading global clothing maker that provides unique value to customers. Related to this, we will secure competitiveness and realize customer satisfaction by focusing on research and development, cost reduction, and keeping delivery deadline.
Q: Tell me about the key awards you received from the government and major institutions in your company's operations.
A: PANKO, Korea's leading clothing manufacturing and exporting company, currently has six local corporations (6 production bases) in Vietnam and Myanmar, and based on this, it has become a global company with annual sales of $350 million.
We are actively exporting to Japanese buyers, including Uniqlo and MUJI, which are known for their meticulousness, and employs 16,000 executives and employees at home and abroad, contributing brilliantly to creating stable jobs.
At the same time, I am serving as the chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association since 2009 and was awarded the Gold Tower Order of Industrial Merit, the highest honor of a businessman, at the 32nd Textile Day ceremony last year.
Q: Please introduce your company’s social contribution activities.
A: PANKO is actively engaged in social contribution activities based on the management philosophy of respecting customers, employees and others. Through the donation plan every year, we continue to contribute to the community, including helping the needy, rehabilitating the disabled, and sponsoring the elderly living alone.
In January 2020, a volunteer activity for "Briquettes Sharing of Love" was conducted to convey warmth to neighbors in winter in Gayang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul. About 30 PANKO executives and employees participated in the volunteer work and delivered 1,500 briquettes in person to practice sharing.
In addition, PANKO donated 10 million won. It will be used to support winter fuel for families in basic living conditions and elderly people living alone who need help.
Previously, PANKO raised the donation last year by implementing a matching grant, a system in which the company pays as much donations as executives and employees.
Q: I’ve heard that you also appeared on Vietnamese national television. What is it about?
A: It's about my life story and the secret to business success in Vietnam. As a child, I lived a fierce life on the life front and in the business field through turbulent times such as the Korea’s liberation from the Japanese rule, the Korean War, and later political and social transformation.
I was born in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do, in 1943, at the end of the Japanese colonial period, and the Korean War broke out and the whole family was evacuated. It was a life-threatening period, so I had to take refugee without even taking a spoon.
I had to work hard part-time during the day, and I had no choice but to study at night. I had a very difficult growth period like this. At that time, I had a great sense of responsibility because I was the eldest son and had such a hard and difficult time, so my desire for self-fulfillment is always strongly latent deep in my heart.
After graduating from high school, I worked for a knit fabric company until graduating from Dong-A University in Busan. In 1984, I started to operate PANKO with eight employees in Dongdaemun, Seoul. At that time, I jumped into the knit field, which was almost barren, and was recognized for my ability by using special materials and achieving shortest delivery period that others could not follow. Japanese businesses that are picky about quality are also giving thumbs up to PANCO products.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add?
A: Recently, the global economy is very unstable and corporate management is rapidly changing, making it difficult for our company to remain complacent. It is time not only to keep the initial commitment to achieve new goals, but also to take the lead in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
PANKO operates advanced vertical factories that verticalize knitting, dyeing and sewing in Vietnam's Binh Duong and Quang Nam Provinces, which are major production bases. More than 10,000 workers produce 51 million pieces of clothing a year at the Ho Chi Minh plant, while more than 6,000 workers produce 21.6 million pieces a year at the Quang Nam plant.
In addition, PANKO END is carrying out a project to create a 1,000-member sewing factory in PANKO Myanmar and a new industrial complex in Tamky, Vietnam.
He has been the chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association since 2009 and was awarded the Gold Tower Order of Industrial Merit, the highest honor of a businessman, at the 32nd Textile Day ceremony last year.
Biographical history of PANKO Chairman Choi Young-joo
- Department of Economics, Dong-A University
- CEO course of Seoul National University Business School
- Highest degree in journalism at Korea University
- Director of the Korea University’s General Alumni Association
- Honorary Ph.D. in Business Administration at Dong-A University
- Working for Wonlim Industry Co.
- CEO of Samwon Textile
- Chairman of PANKO Corp. (currently)
- CEO of Qingdao PANKO Apparel Co., China (currently)
- Chairman of PANKO Vina Corp. in Vietnam (currently)
- Chairman of PANKO Myanmar Corp. (currently)
- Chairman of PANKO Tam Thang Co. in Vietnam (currently)
Experience in external activities
- Former Chairman of the Korea Apparel Testing & Research Institute (KATRI) (Ministry of Knowledge Economy)
- Chairman of the Korea-Vietnam Friendship Association (KOVIFA) (currently) (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Prime Minister's Commendation on the 19th Trade Day
- Order of Industrial Service Merit on the 19th Businessman's Day
- Merit for Promoting Friendship between Vietnam and Korea
- Bronze Tower Industrial Medal Merit on the 47th Trade Day
- Order of Friendship Merit of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
- Gold Tower Industrial Medal Merit on the 32nd Textile Day
- 40th Junghun Textile Industry Award