Park In-gu, Vice Chairman of Dongwon Group
With over 50 years of rich tradition in Korea, Dongwon has become a globally diversified food production and food service business – now delivering its food culture to over 35 countries worldwide.
As part of its vision, Dongwon prides itself as a company that contributes to society by always putting people first and developing as a firm based on this principal.
The firm’s connection with the Kiwi Chamber over the years has been strong and Dongwon and its leadership have always played an important role in supporting New Zealand through chamber-, trade-, and embassy-related events.
“We are grateful to Dongwon and Vice Chairman Park In-gu for their steadfast support over the years as a sponsor of the Kiwi Chamber,” said Dr. Tony Garrett, Chairman of the Kiwi Chamber. “With an aim to develop and strengthen the Korea-New Zealand relationship, Vice Chairman Park’s enthusiasm is evident as he regularly participates in our events, especially our Year-End Grand Hui event which regularly draws VIPs from both countries.”
As part of its Inspire with Innovation Series, the Kiwi Chamber conversed with Mr. Park to gain a deeper understanding of the company, its key business areas and its connection to New Zealand.
Vice Chairman Park (on right) poses with VIPs at the Kiwi Chamber 2019 Year-end Grand Hui
Please tell us a little bit about Dongwon including when it was founded.
Dongwon started as a fisheries company in 1969. It has grown by entering the food manufacturing and food service business, logistics, packaging and other business areas. Since 2000, the company has been actively making acquisitions in domestic and overseas markets and has become a global company.
Global food company Dongwon Group
What is the company’s connection with New Zealand and what are the main products you import from New Zealand?
Kim Jae-chul, founder of Dongwon, was appointed honorary consul by the New Zealand government in 2010 and has been engaged in various activities to develop relations between Korea and New Zealand.
He assisted with the Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2014 by taking advantage of his long experience as president of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), and was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit by the New Zealand government and the Queen in 2017.
Dongwon imports about 2,000 tons of cheese annually as a key import item from New Zealand and processes it and sells it in Korea.
New Zealand’s cheese has excellent quality and freshness, so imports will continue to increase in the future.
Dongwon Group hopes to continue developing trade relations with New Zealand as much as possible.
Chairman Park (on left) poses with celebrities and VIPs at 2018 Year-end Grand Hui
Since the signing of the Korea-New Zealand FTA, have you seen growth in the relationship between Dongwon and New Zealand in the F&B/fisheries sectors? What has changed?
Since the Korea-New Zealand FTA was concluded, cheese imports have continued to increase, especially last year’s imports which increased by 54 percent compared to the previous year.
This has been a challenging year due to Covid-19. What impact has the pandemic had on Dongwon globally and domestically?
Recently, COVID-19 has increased interest in high-protein health foods worldwide, and demand for inexpensive yet nutritious canned tuna continues to increase.
According to the Wall Street Journal, sales of canned tuna continued to rise in the U.S. last year due to the prolonged COVID-19 situation. Sales of canned tuna were even limited in some U.S. stores for a while. In fact, sales of canned tuna and tuna pouches in the U.S. grew 29.6% year-on-year in the first half of last year based on on AC Nielsen data while StarKist, an affiliate of Dongwon, saw sales grow 17.47% during the same period.
Domestically, Dongwon Group’s business has not been impacted by COVID-19 as our main business is food related.
Dongwon Group acquires StarKist Corporation
Dongwon has been a long-term Gold sponsor and supporter of The Kiwi Chamber. What connects the firm to the chamber and what do you get out of the relationship?
Dongwon maintains a relationship with The Kiwi Chamber because it sympathizes with the efforts of The Kiwi Chamber to protect and promote the commercial interests of companies and individuals in both Korea and New Zealand.
Dongwon expects the chamber to contribute to the development of bilateral relations through positive communication with Korea and New Zealand in the future.
Vice Chairman Park and his band perform at 2018 Year-end Grand Hui
Please tell us a little about yourself and your hobbies. Your band performed for our audience at the Year-end Grand Hui in 2018 – will you perform for us again?
I like soccer so much and play soccer every morning before going to work. Soccer is a secret to health and a source of management philosophy beyond being a hobby.
The management philosophy I get from soccer is cooperation and speed. The similarity between soccer and management I think is that people need to cooperate and move at a rapid pace to produce results.
The answer to the question about my band is yes, of course. If you invite my guitar team, we would be happy to play.
Vice Chairman Park plays soccer
Is there anything else you would like The Kiwi Chamber members to know about Dongwon?
Dongwon will continue to strive for individuals and society as a ‘social enterprise that creates new values’ and will also contribute to maintaining positive relations between Korea and New Zealand.
Vice Chairman Park proposes a toast at 2019 Year-end Grand Hui