Business / Economy

South Korean soft power to make Chinese products snazzy

By Xu Jingxi (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-05 08:13

South Korean design firms are expanding in China.

A delegation of 27 firms has displayed the power of "Korean design" at the biannual Canton Fair being held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province.

One of the fair's divisions, the Product Design and Trade Promotion Center, has included a design exhibition as a side show to the main event.

The exhibition has put on display intriguing, wide-ranging product designs ranging from an electric fan without blades to a cutting board sterilizer.

"Made in China 2025", the national strategic plan to encourage industrial upgrading and innovation across the country's manufacturing sector and creative industries, provides business opportunities for South Korean designers, according to Hong Min-seok, head of the China office of the Korea Institute of Design Promotion and the leader of the delegation.

"As the growth in China's manufacturing sector and creative industries gathers pace, demand for design services is expected to surge. We are confident about the prospects for closer cooperation between Chinese manufacturers and South Korean design firms," Hong told China Daily.

Ethan Jeong, CEO of Goth Design, has been participating in the exhibition since 2012 and established long-term partnerships with 50 Chinese companies.

"South Korea and China share similar cultures, so it is easy for South Korean designers to understand Chinese clients' needs," said Jeong.

Since the start of this millennium, a hallyu, or a wave, of South Korean TV dramas and pop music has been sweeping China. "Korean design" would mark an extension of the wave.

Founded in 1970 under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of South Korea, the KIDP aims to improve design education and help its design industry to develop at home and abroad. It set up an office in China in 2013.

"Design is part of a nation's soft power. I hope the Chinese government will also vigorously promote Chinese original designs overseas to correct some foreigners' misconception that all Chinese products are copycat versions," said Alan Yip, chairman of the Hong Kong Design Trade Association.

In addition to design companies, many South Korean manufacturers showcased innovative products at the fair. Contraptions like mini high-pressure tooth sprays caught the eye of buyers from across the world.

"Design is key to adding value to products and is the secret of South Korean manufacturers' rise in the global marketplace," said Hong from KIDP China.

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