Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Korea Technopreneur Study Trip - Day 02


This is PART 2 of a  7-part series of blog entries written by our DBIT / DIT studentsabout their experiences on a recent Study Trip to Korea.

Nine Diploma in Business Information Technology (DBIT) and one Diploma in Information Technology (DIT) student participated in a Technopreneurship Study Trip to the cities of Seoul and Daejeon in Korea from 14 September to 22 September 2014.

Stayed tuned to each part of this series of articles to find out where we went / did!

Greetings everyone! I am Law Yong Wei, a first year student from the Diploma in Business Information Technology (DBIT)!

I was very fortunate to be selected to be part as part of the group of 10 students to go on a Korea Technopreneurship Trip from 14 September to 22 September and I am here to share with you the highlights of Day 2 of the trip.

Day 2 started extremely early, we had our breakfast at 6am (Korea Time), before taking a 2.5 hour bus ride from May Guest House in Seoul to another city in Korea, Daejeon.

Before moving on, I would like to give a special shout out to our tour organiser aka our Korean friend, Mr Budher Song for waking up 2 hours before us to get us breakfast from a Korean fast food chain, Lotteria.  Many thanks to him for driving us safely to the various places for the entire day!


The first stop of the day was at Gyejoksan Mountain Red Clay Trail, where we went on a guided trekking tour conducted by the founder and CEO of Mackiss, Mr Cho Wung Rae.

The Gyejoksan Mountain Red Clay Trail is a 14-kilometer long eco-healing walking trail situated at an altitude between 200 meters and 300 meters above sea level on Mount Gyejok, with a barefoot walking theme. In 2008, it was considered as one of the ‘33 travel destinations to go back to’ by travel journalists. The trail also claims to help to restore one’s health of the body and soul, giving visitors a therapeutic and unique experience.

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The whole trekking trip lasted for about 2.5 hours, as we only trekked almost 5km, which is much less than the actual length of the trail. But we were already much more tired than the other Koreans.  In fact, the Koreans were the more energetic ones, they climbed the mountain faster than us and some of them even did their running training up and down the mountain! In contrast, most Singaporeans like us have not built ourselves to be ready for mountain trekking.


The effort we put in was paid off, as we got to enjoy the beautiful and peaceful environment in the deep fresh aroma of pine trees, with the view of downtown Daejeon from Gyejoksanseong Fortress!

It was definitely a great getaway from the hustle and bustle city life. Time to let go of our stress!


At the same time, we were given a special lecture about entrepreneurship by Mr Cho Wung Rae. He first gave an introduction about his company, The Mackiss Company.

The Mackiss Company brings joys to many people through various CSV (Creating Shared Value) activities such as Red clay road of Mt.Gyejok, Fun Fun Classic concert of Mackiss Opera. As the brand actually wants to be a connecting and communicating mediator between companies and customers. That is why they want to be known as: Between Human And Human – Mackiss.  They also believe in helping others and they will benefit at the same time.


Even the logo of The Mackiss Company has significant meaning behind it. As stated by the company: The first spelling ‘M’ of the company is artistically expressed to symbolize the corporate philosophy, connection between human and human, human and nature, and human and society. The curve that connects the two axes means the infinite connection between human and human, and also presents the company creating full of contents and stories at the same time.


Mr Cho Wung Rae then told us the story why he came out with an idea about barefoot trekking on red clay road. It was in the year 2006, when he was climbing with his close friends, he saw one woman climbing on high heels. He took off his shoes to give her and walked on barefoot. That night he slept well and deeply. After that, he could never forget the first experience of barefoot walk. He felt that the happiness in him must be shared with the community. So he started to spread the good quality of Red clay over gravel path on Mt. Gyejok.



I would say Mr Cho Wung Rae is a happy-going guy with a lot of creativity. He wears his unique smile everywhere he goes, and cracks some jokes every now and then, spreading happiness to the people around him.

Why is he creative? He was able to transform an ordinary mountain into a special mountain that is able to connect people together and bring awareness of his company at the same time using a simple concept.

Here is a picture of us with the friendly founder, who was always ready to pose for photos.


After our strenous trek, we were really hungry! Mr Budher brought us to eat traditional Korean Bibimbap ("mixed rice") at one of the local restaurants.  Some of my friends were fans of this dish, and they started adding alot of chilli to it as they like it very spicy.

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After lunch, we moved on to our next stop – Daejeon Center for Creative Economy & Innovation.

Daejeon Center for Creative Economy & Innovation (KAIST Creative Economic Centre) was the place where we met student entrepreneur  Mr Yeo Soona, the CEO & Founder of Chalk Academy.


Chalk Academy ( is Korea’s first smart online education donation platform, specialising to Korean education, and benchmarked Khan Academy. It utilizes collective intelligence by collecting contents and manages lecture qualities using crowdsourcing. The number of video content on the website is currently approximately 450, reaching around 10% of those in Khan Academy, where the lecture donors are students from prestigious schools.

I feel that Mr Yeo Soona was very inspiring to me, as he is still an undergraduate in Korea Advanced Institute Of Science and Technology (KAIST) University and yet, he is able to successfully run a business at the same time.

His company had won the Donation for Education Award 2013 and he appeared on national newspaper (The Korea Times) next to the current Korea President together with the headline “KAIST student seeks education revolution”.


Another reason why I look up to Mr Yeo Soona as a role model, because I can see the perseverance, capabilities and passion in the work he has done. Like many other businesses, funding is a perpetual problem, but despite the obstacles he encounters, he is still persistent to continue running Chalk Academy as a social enterprise.

He even went the extra mile to participate in various start-up competitions to win prize money and invested the cash into Chalk Academy. This also shows that his works/ideas were of quality and well-liked by others.

His passion had also driven him to keep on improving his company website, it has already undergone a change of 6 times and he plans to redesign his website again in 2014, to introduce a system that recommends tutorials to each visitor, using Big Data.

I would say a great takeaway point for me is the exposure of how the Korean entrepreneurs do their presentation (both the way they do their slides and pitching), as I would like to be an entrepreneur one day. This also got everyone interested and gave their fullest attention to the speaker as seen in the picture below.

The next speaker of the day is Professor Jang Hyo-Yang, a senior researcher from KAIST.


He gave a brief introduction of The Miracle Of Han River and shared with us the different programmes that Daejeon Center for Creative Economy and Innovation in KAIST offers for the start-ups.

The Miracle on the Han River is a term referring to South Korea's post-war export-fuelled economic growth, including rapid industrialization, technological achievement, education boom, large rise in living standards, rapid urbanization, skyscraper boom, and modernisation.

A fun fact to all the readers out there: There are 28000 start-ups in Korea with and average revenue of US$7 million dollars, adding 20% increase in revenue and contribution of 1.5% Korea’s GDP growth! Apart from that, there are more than 400 start-up companies in Korea with US$100 million plus in revenue!
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Let’s move on to the start-up programme that is being offered by KAIST. It is called the StartupKaist. StartupKaist is an entrepreneurial movement in KAIST to change the world by activating entrepreneurship culture, growth ecosystem, and global sustainable start-up.

It is done through connections with Venture Capitalists, angels, entrepreneurs, and professors that create and operate a business for funding and incubation services. Some of the other programmes being operated include entrepreneurship lectures, lunch talks, KAIST Venture Forum and etc.

What’s more, StartupKaist is also open to foreigners! All you have to do is to set up and base your company in Korea!

I would say the facilities at KAIST Creative Economic Centre makes it one of the coziest places to work in. Their entire 3rd floor of the Education Support Building (W8) was just recently renovated in 2014 to carry out start-up activities. The area is spacious, relaxing and bright, with many meeting areas and comfortable furniture to host forums and conferences. There is even a room known as Econovation, used as a Smart App Test Bed, for wanna-be technopreneurs to perform testing for their product ideas.

With such good facilities and support, who know I might just base my start-up in Korea in the future? Haha.


We ended the visit to KAIST Creative Economic Centre for the day at 4pm, with a group photography session with Professor Jang Hyo-Yang.


The second last stop of the day was a factory visit to a Korean Alcohol Drink (Soju) Factory. The factory is owned by none other than Mr Cho Wung Rae, whom founded the “Barefoot Trekking Concept” that we experienced earlier in the morning!


We went on a factory tour of MacKiss conducted by the general manager of the company. She explained to us the manufacturing/packaging process of Soju and the range of products that MacKiss offers.



I feel that this is a very educational and relevant tour to the DBIT course because through this tour, we learnt about business operational processes of the alcohol industry as well as the marketing strategies deployed by them, which can also be applied to other industries.

So let’s share a little about what I learnt!  From the tour, I learnt that Mackiss Soju is produced by the patented technology of dissolved oxygen through a three-stage process. This makes their Soju contain three times more oxygen and hence, 30 minutes faster to hangover-free!



We were really fascinated by the vast variety of alcoholic drinks that the company sells! For example, besides the normal Soju, Mackiss also manufactures an alcoholic beverage made from mature barley with the extract of sesame leaves to give a really refreshing and hangover-free feeling.


Besides coming up with unique alcoholic beverages, MacKiss also pays alot of attention to branding and market segmentation.’

For example, here is a bottle that has a very unique and artistic design. The bottle was designed by JonOne (John Perello), a famous Graffiti-influencer based in Paris. His Graffiti works are one of the highest-bidded and most sought-after in the world.

From this design, I can tell that this particular drink is targeted towards the youthbecause of it is colourful and vibrant packaging design, giving them a more excited feeling with the drink.


A group photo with the general manger who brought us around the factory, before moving on to the next stop.

Last stop of the day was recreational time at a dance studio. Guess what? It is Tango Dance time!

At first, I thought Tango Dance would be a rather boring thing to do.

But I was wrong! Tango dance is actually a very relaxing activity to release all your stress!

The lesson first started off with a demonstration by the two professional tango dance instructors, before they taught us the 5 basic moves step by step.

Next it was our turn to have hands on practice with the music being played in the background.
I was a little confused with the steps at the beginning, but soon I picked up the moves.

Some of my other friends were fast learners and were happily dancing away. I guess some of my friends would be excited to continue their new affair with tango!

Needless to say, I enjoyed the lessons and picked up new skills. I had so much fun learning to dance the tango from a very talented teacher and along with a great group of friends!
After the tango dancing session, it was dinner time. We went over to Mr Budher’s house to have a sumptuous dinner prepared by his mother! There were side dishes (banchan), smoked duck, soups, Korean Vermicelli, and lots of vegetables!
I could sense his mother was a talented cook and prepared the meal with sincerity to welcome us. It was a great experience of the Korean meal culture at a local home, where our Korean friends taught us the Korean way of eating the smoked duck and vegetables together.
It was already almost 10pm, after we finished our dinner, and it was time to check in into Innopolis Guest House to conclude the day.

This blog entry is written by Diploma in Business Information Technology (DBIT) Year 1 student, Law Yong Wei.
Yong Wei has strong interest in Sports and he is currently an active member in SP Taekwondo Club who is constantly trying to achieve the different colors of belt levels and joining competitions such as POL-ITE!

During his free time, Yong Wei goes for long runs and plays street soccer to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He also likes travelling to different parts of the world to be exposed to different cultures.

His ambition is to become a police officer and an entrepreneur at the same time. He believes in this saying “Difficulties in your life don't come to destroy you, but to help you realize your hidden potential”!

Connect with Yong Wei at his  Facebook profile to talk to him! :)

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