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Young-Min Kim: The DLG - South Korea connection

By Erminia Ciarleglio

For over 10 years now, this DLG member and senior manager with the Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry has promoted Agritechnica and EuroTier in his Far East homeland. Not only that, Young-Min Kim and his team organise and guide groups of agricultural industry experts to these major events, his organisation being official DLG travel partner in South Korea. The aim: achieving a good selection of specialists - engineers, academics, advisors, government officials, and not forgetting farmers – to network and share knowledge, not only at trade fairs but also during associated visits to farm businesses, food processors  and machinery manufacturers. Back home in South Korea, Young-Min Kim and colleagues also help with a continuously updated database on the European markets and trends with Korean products in mind. Meantime, plans for guided tours to Agritechnica 2021 are already underway, including far-reaching solutions for Covid-19 safety.

Young-Min Kim, what are the main tasks involved in preparing for these travel groups and who are the participants?

My work since 2010 involves developing awareness of events such as EuroTier and Agritechnica amongst potential exhibitors, visitors and related organisations. Among the group visits I have organised is a business delegation at the request of the Rural Development Administration, affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Most exhibitors from our country involved in Agritechnica, for example, are manufacturers producing everything from small components to complete tractors and other machinery. The aim is also to learn about the differences and strengths of European agriculture through organised visits. In this respect our team is continuously and ably supported by the DLG. We are also always welcomed by DLG colleagues when arriving at Agritechnica.

Are DLG events in Germany popular amongst agricultural experts in South Korea?

Yes, in fact there is usually a rush of requests to participate! My first delegation abroad through the Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry was concerned with the food and beverage sector. I then organised a visit in association with agricultural machinery manufacturers and this attracted great interest in subsequent visits. Last year I organised a delegation at the request of my country’s Rural Development Administration for overseas training in Australia and New Zealand, the success of all tours being helped by everything I’ve learnt from the DLG.


Please tell us more about market conditions and trends in South Korea.

Despite the economic recession and COVID-19 pandemic, the Korean agricultural machinery sector has maintained business at a better level than most. The trade balance has increased on the year, helped by a continuation of active agricultural machinery imports and exports in 2019. With food and beverages, 2019 exports totalled around 6 billion USD (78 % thereof processed agricultural products, the rest fresh produce). Imports in this sector were valued at 29.6 billion USD. This imbalance is influenced by consumption trends in my country with the young favouring quality western food products, leading to high levels of imported goods.

Comparatively small, our country covers around 100,000 km2 with farmland area continually decreasing. In 2019, only around 15 % (1,589,700 ha) was cultivated for agriculture. Some 4.3 % (2.24 m) of the population is involved in farming (2019) compared with 3 m 2010. The situation increases pressure for efficiency and Korean farmers are interested in the high-tech approach to crop and livestock production e.g. digitisation, using drones or developing urban food production (vertical farming), with government and other organisations supporting appropriate R & D.

What other ideas are being considered for Korean agricultural production?

We realise that we must adopt many Agriculture 4.0 concepts because of our limited farmland area (mountains and uplands cover 70 % of the total), but also because of measures to reduce climate warming and encourage environment protection. Will our 5G network help efficiencies in the farming sector? We hope so. The concept of urban (vertical) farming by private households for own food supply already interests us and is seen as an ultimate goal, at least for vegetable production.

Without a doubt, you are planning your next group visits to DLG Agritechnica in 2021. How are you preparing for Covid 19 conditions?

One solution that is on everyone’s lips now is the creation of hybrid events: a concept featuring both live and digital approaches for trade fairs. It’s an idea proving valuable for events where in the past large numbers of people met and mingled. Many exhibitions are already trying to organise various platforms to appeal to their clients through new effective marketing strategies, a global trend that cannot be avoided, unless entirely new marketing methods are developed.

Online webinars represent a new norm. We are already getting used to working with such online platforms as a result of the pandemic. I will definitely offer my clients group tours featuring the hybrid approach more often and hope to introduce the first “hybrid” event visits as soon as possible.