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G-Tep in Dongguk university: a global trade group for donggukians

92.3%! What does this numerical figure refer to?  The answer is:  South Korea's trade dependency ratio.  In short, Korea's economy is heavily dependent on exports.  This shows that trade is the key to Korea's survival in the global economy.  In light of this, The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) is pushing forward a special business plan called "The Global Trade Experts Incubating Program (G-tep for short)".  G-tep is a group-setting agenda for achieving high trade benefits. To ensure its success, 1 trillion won has been put aside for the training of trade experts and the expansion of human infrastructure.  It also aims to train experts who are not only well educated but endowed with the requisite background knowledge for day-to day business practice.  27 universities are participating in G-tep, Dongguk University (DU) included. DU was selected for G-tep by MKE in June 2007.  The groups chosen for G-tep are selected on a year-by-year basis.


The G-tep in DU has a particular interest in domestic agricultural markets, and endeavors to make a concerted effort in attracting overseas buyers to its products. This activity aims, also, to help revitalize small and medium enterprises.


One of the second term groups has just reached a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the following companies: Uiseong Black Garlic Farm Corporations, Applicom, Inc, Lacasa and Med-Means.  G-tep in DU recently participated in the Beauty Asia 2009 exhibition in Singapore, catching the overseas buyers' eye with that passionate enthusiasm peculiar to university students.  As a consequence, G-tep in DU secured a $ 3,280 export contract in Singapore as well as a $2 million contract for 200 black garlic-condensed liquid.


In addition, G-tep in DU became the first domestic university to open an exhibition (2009 Korean Week) in Ulan Bator last May.  The aim of this exhibition is to promote Korean enterprises and their goods.  7 out of the 20 foreign companies participating reached an MOU with G-tep in DU. 


To learn more about G-tep in DU, The Post interviewed some of its members:


What has prompted students to join this program?
Park Eui-kyun, a DU senior majoring in International Trade, answered: "I have always been interested in trade; but, in my opinion, the hands-on-approach is better than theory nowadays.  That's the reason why I applied for G-tep."  He added that, the G-tep activity he felt most proud of was his team's securing of the $2 million black garlic contract in Beauty Asia 2009.


Do Hee-jung, a junior majoring in International Trade, said that he began to understand the way the world operates thanks to G-tep.  Another International Trade major, Song Ji-hoon, commented wryly that  management of grades is not easy while engaged in G-tep work.  For example, when he went to Mongolia to take part in an exhibition, it was the day after a midterm exam, so he didn't have enough time to study. The exhibition, however, with the help of G-tep leader Prof. Kim Joong-kwan, a professor in the Department of International Trade, proceeded without difficulty. The professor encouraged students and provided good leadership throughout.


Prof. Kim said that, through G-tep, insight into the international situation will help improve business acumen.  In his opinion, G-tep won buyers' confidence with their open and above-board management style. This is because G-tep is composed of honest university students.  Moreover, unlike other school activities, the G-tep program emphasizes the acquirement of job-skills. This is of an immediate concern to most students. 


However, nothing is ever perfect.  The thing that G-tep is deficient  is its ability to advertize itself off-campus. This might be due to a lack of sufficient funding.  Furthermore, even though a room for G-tep exists, the space is too small. Whenever G-tep members are in conference or are meeting buyers, they have to borrow Prof. Kim's office. 
Nevertheless, Prof. Kim has set his sights on making DU a hub university for international business & commerce; one that awards full tuition scholarships to G-tep members and provides other benefits.


G-tep has made a good showing on exporting uiseong black garlic, but this still isn't enough to satisfy.  Now they are preparing to step forward by looking for more subcontractors.  Kang Dong-oh, a chairperson of the third term groups said that they are interested in makgeolli, soju, green tea and sansamju. They also hope to reach an MOU with companies such as haetchawon, andongmyoungju and sansam.  With the above-mentioned subcontractor's products, they plan to participate in the Shanghai exposition in December, 2009, the Japan food exhibition and the Singapore alcoholic beverages exhibition in 2010.  Although blazing a trail to a new path can sometimes be rough and difficult, the Post expects G-tep in DU to fully live up to its ambitious slogan: "Go for Trade, G-tep is coming!"

Choi Deok  manasa1147@dongguk.edu

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