Archive for Belmar

The Korean Business Toolbox 2017

I’d like to share a new Korean business Toolbox that provides solutions to a recurring and deep concern by western management of South Korea-based companies. I find this issue surfacing often and so draw upon what I have found to work best to overcome and move forward.

Here’s the Link.

In crafting the Toolbox over the past month and sharing sections as drafts, it’s received considerable feedback and positive reviews. These are always much appreciated.

As always we look for your comments and thoughts, too. So please share.


Korean Global Dining Leader Looks to the Americas

This week, I’d like to share three popular South Korean chef-inspired restaurant concepts that are moved into the second phase of international expansion. Successful launched in South Korea and Asia, Seoul-based SUN AT FOODS now plans to bring their handcrafted artisanal cuisines to the U.S and the Americas.

One of my longtime personal favorites, which I have talked about often, is Mad for Garlic that first opened in 2001. They are known for their garlic-specialized Italian cuisine served in rather unique restaurant settings.

I feel their secrets are Mad for Garlic’s method of removing the garlic’s pungent smell and unique way of cooking Italian cuisine with a Korean twist. In Korea and Asia they have won the hearts of both garlic and non-garlic lovers.

mad for garlic America

Building on the success of Mad for Garlic are two new concepts Modern Nulung and Bistro Seoul.

Inspired by 1930s Shanghai Renaissance era, Modern Nulang is the combination words of ‘Modern’ and ‘Nulang’ –the latter meaning ‘woman’ in Chinese. They have reinterpreted the era’s ‘modern women’ in their dishes, which guests describe as ‘Sophisticated’ and ‘Romantic’ Chinese Cuisine. Best of all, folks love indulging in an exotic Shanghai dining and cultural experience captured so well in Modern Nulang.

Modern Nulang America

A third concept is Bistro Seoul. Here they offer authentic Korean cuisine made with fresh ingredients and seasoning prepared in a traditional but modern interpretation. Savory dishes include Grilled Short Rib Patties, and their ever popular Korean style pancakes that include Kimchi & Seafood pancakes, Crispy Potato pancakes and Minced Shrimp & Seafood pancakes.

Bistro Seoul America

SUN AT FOODS plans are now underway targeting top regional U.S markets as well as meeting with industry leaders and potential regional developers. In fact, I am their market development consultant and we’re eager to meet with potential partners to share the three concepts—each with their unigue appeal.

For more information on the brands, please contact Stacey my assistant at, and she can schedule a time to meet or chat by phone.


For all urgent matters, text me at 310-866-3777






A Favorite Lesson


I share much on business norms and expectations with Korean, American, and global teams and management.

I, too, have learned much in exchange.

In fact, I’ve been fortunate to have a number of senior Korean leadership share their opinions and thoughts.

For example, I was asked by a Korea client to find out if a successful and high profile American brand was interested in the Korean market. If so, the Korean firm would like to be considered as a potential partner.

After talking to the American brand’s Founder and CEO, a legend in the QSR industry, he politely shared that their plans were to focus on the US market. Any Asia expansion would not be for at least years away.

A few months later while they were visiting the US, I hosted the Korean client’s Chairman and his wife at a VVIP lunch meeting with an iconic American restaurant.

Over the meal, the Chairman’s wife quizzed me on my progress with the American brand. I explained that the US brand’s Founder and CEO was polite, but they were not currently looking at Asia and Korea.

Pausing a moment, the Chairman’s wife expressed that their Group was still very interested in the brand for Korea.

She then hoped I’d keep trying and not take “no” for an answer; adding firmly that sometimes we need to “Knock on the door a 100 times!”

My Korean client’s success was evidently rooted in their perseverance and not taking “no” for an answer. A trait we find in many of the leadership the top Korean Groups.

Take away

When challenged with an issue, situation, or problem…we need to “Knock on the door a 100 times, “ not give up at the first impasse.

Questions? Comments?



Korea 101 On-line Launched

Building teamwork and cross-cultural understanding is paramount to success. Misunderstandings and stress created by the differences in culture impact productivity and smooth business operations. Cross-cultural education is recognized as the chief solution to cultural challenges in the workplace.

Bridging Culture Worldwide (BCW) provides a wide range of Korea-focused training, coaching, and consulting services beginning with Korea 101.

What is Korea 101?
Korea 101 is a timely overview approach to Korean culture, modern history, norms and business culture. The goal of the program is to foster a better understanding of Korea and its business culture.

What are topics covered?
Business and social etiquette
History and economy of Korea
Culture (music, art and cuisine)
U.S./Korean relations including North Korea
The Korean workplace, management structure, and decision-making
Popular culture
New trends
Cross-cultural insights

Tell me more
For the first time we are offering Korea 101 in an on-demand online learning format. The intent of each of the five lesson sessions is to build upon the current experiences, while providing new knowledge and insights.

Korea 101 has been offered in corporate Live and Webinar sessions both in the United States and internationally for more than a decade. Thousands of participants have benefited from training and the insights it shares.

The program is conducted by noted author, strategist and lecturer, Don Southerton CEO and President of Bridging Culture Worldwide. Don works closely with many of Korea’s top Groups such as Hyundai Motor and is an experienced specialist in bridging cultures between Korean and non-Koreans. His firm, Bridging Culture Worldwide, is a Golden, Colorado, Irvine, California, and Seoul, South Korea, which offers programs and consulting to help management and employees appreciate and understand Korean culture and business relations.

Noted Korea expert Don Southerton

Noted Korea expert Don Southerton

Don has authored numerous publications with topics centering on culture, new urbanism, entrepreneurialism and early U.S.-Korean business ventures. Southerton also extensively lectures and writes and comments on modern Korean business culture and its impact on global organizations. He is a frequent contributor to the media (WSJ, Forbes, CNN Fortune, Bloomberg, Automotive News, Korea Times, Korea Herald, Yonhap, Korea Magazine, eFM tbs Koreascape and FSR) on Korea facing business and culture.

Outcomes include:
A strong understanding of Korean cross-cultural differences and their relevance to Korean workplace culture.
Reduce tensions and frustrations rooted in cross-cultural issues.
Better morale and team spirit.
Support for interacting with Korean teams assigned to local operations.

The Cost for the 5 web-based on-demand learning sessions in $495.00.

To learn more, CLICK.


Korean Business Expert Don Southerton Releases Ground Breaking Book

Korea Perspective offers a road map to avoid common pitfalls while overcoming challenges, addressing issues that frequently surface with Korea.


Golden, Colorado (PRWEB) February 02, 2015  Korean global business consultant Don Southerton has released his latest publication, titled Korea Perspective. Southerton notes, ” As a result of my interacting with Korea facing business on an almost daily basis, Western overseas teams, as well Korean leadership and teams, have openly shared their challenges and pressing concerns. In turn, I have worked to provide them with a framework, strategy, and solutions. This book is based on these daily interactions.”

The intended audiences, the author points out, are Westerners employed by Korean-based companies outside South Korea, firms providing services or products to a South Korean overseas subsidiary or operations and global companies that have significant business with a Korean company.

Southerton adds, “All in all, this book offers a road map to avoid the pitfalls, navigate around the roadblocks, and thrive.”

Korea Perspective is available through Amazon Kindle, Nook and most popular booksellers.

About the author Don Southerton has a life-long interest in Korea and the rich culture of the country. He has authored numerous publications with topics centering on culture, new urbanism, entrepreneurialism, and early U.S.-Korean business ventures. Southerton also lectures extensively and writes and comments on modern Korean business culture and its impact on global organizations.

He is a frequent contributor to the media (WSJ, Forbes, CNN Fortune, Bloomberg, Automotive News, Korea Times, Korea Herald, Yonhap, Korea Magazine, and FSR) on Korea facing business and culture. He heads Bridging Culture Worldwide, a Golden, Colorado based company that provides strategy, consulting and training to Korea-based global business. An avid martial artist, Southerton has pursued the study and practice of Korean traditional arts for more than forty years.


The author is available for media interviews.


68 Story Songdo NEATT Opens

Pleased to see Songdo’s NEATT ( The North East Asia Trade Tower) open. I recall over the years peeking out from floor after floor as construction moved ever upward.  Last time i was in the Tower it was a chilly February morning hosting BBC Click.


NEATT ( on right)

Songdo in the News–Incheon and Songdo: Sub-National Economic Integration Efforts

As a longtime supporter of the Songdo project, we always have seen the Songdo International District ( the core of the greater Songdo FEZ which NY-based Gale International has developed) as a Hub for East Asia business…neat idea the area could be hub for eventually N-S commerce.

Songdo Peterson Institute

North Korea Blog

Incheon and Songdo: Sub-National Economic Integration Efforts
by Marcus Noland | May 13th, 2014

A few years back I was invited to participate in some activities sponsored by Gangwon province in northeastern South Korea, the traditional boundaries of which were split by the division of the peninsula. Officials were hoping that a reconnection of the east coast rail line would give the province an economic shot in the arm.

On the west side of the peninsula, officials have also been eyeing inter-Korean integration and the economic benefits that it could bring. According to a newspaper story passed along by Tom Murcott of Gale International, the developer of the Songdo “smart city,” back in 2008  local officials pushed for a traffic network expansion plan that would connect Incheon International Airport to Gangwha and Gaeseong Industrial Park as part of the Gangwha development plan. That integration would seem to make sense, especially if the October 2007 North-South summit vision of redeveloping Haeju ever came to pass.

With President Park’s renewed emphasis on unification, Incheon officials are dusting off the old plans. According to the report in the Incheon-based Kiho Ilbo, Incheon City has announced it will push ahead with the construction of an expressway from Yeongjong to Haeju of North Korea, the so-called “West Sea Unification Expressway.” Incheon City estimates KRW2.7 trillion of project costs will have to be spent on the 112km-long expressway.

Presumably the city doesn’t have that kind of cash laying around, and one would think that the national government might have something to say about opening up direct transportation links with the North, so don’t hold your breath.  Nevertheless, it’s a reminder that local officials have their own eyes fixed on North-South possibilities, and if North-South relations calm, Incheon and Songdo would be ideally placed to become the hub of North-South exchange.


Korea Herald: Author Southerton calls for new growth approach from Hyundai Motor


Southerton Korea Herald


2014-04-30 20:51

“Speed” is the key to explaining Hyundai Motor Group’s stunning growth over the past decade. The rapid decision-making under the charismatic leadership of chairman Chung Mong-koo has been crucial for its global expansion.

But Don Southerton, author of the recent book “Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed,” says a more cross-cultural approach is now needed for the Korean auto giant to keep going at its current speed.

He recalled a 2005 training session he held at Hyundai Motor’s newest plant in Montgomery, Alabama, where tensions were mounting between the American and Korean teams ahead of the production of their first vehicles at the facility.

“The problem was ‘cultural’ ― Koreans not understanding and Americans vice versa,” Southerton, who is also leading a Denver-based consulting firm, Bridging Cultural Worldwide, wrote in an email interview with The Korea Herald.

According to him, many of the new American managers had been searching in earnest for the “Hyundai Way” ― documented policies and procedures that would guide them in decision-making and day-to-day work.

But not finding a set “Hyundai Way” resulted in some Americans feeling that there might be a communication and language issue. “More concerning, a few hinted strongly at trust issues and that Koreans were deliberately withholding vital information,” he said.

He wouldn’t say this cultural issue was limited to Hyundai. Other multinational companies like Coca-Cola and IBM that have a long history of dispatching expatriates worldwide have always experienced such difficulties.

“But unlike American companies like Ford, GM and Chrysler that have highly standardized and documented policies and procedures, at Hyundai these were acquired on the job and over time, shared informally through mentoring,” he said.

He pointed out even some Korean employees experience this issue.

“In the past … an employee joined the group as their first job and moved up through the ranks. Today, greater numbers of Korean team members are joining the group after years of employment with other firms. Like Westerners, it takes time for them,” he said.

“As more and more Hyundai operations and sales have shifted globally, the need to localize to each market has been crucial. I feel Hyundai is constantly evaluating what works best for each market. In some markets leadership is Korean, in others leadership is local.”

He suggested that what works best is when both the Korean and local leadership are strong collaborators. As for the hiring of non-Koreans for local leadership roles, like in any international operation, or in the case of Peter Schreyer, the group’s design chief, the decision would be based on the individual’s experience and reputation.

“I also feel one management change occurring is a shift from the top-down management to one of collaboration,” he said of the ongoing leadership transition from the current chairman to his son Eui-sun, the vice chairman.

By Lee Ji-yoon (


Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed, New Book Looks at Korean Corporate Culture

Global business expert Don Southerton has authored a new eBook, Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed, which shares insights into the one of the world’s top automakers.


Korea global business expert Don Southerton has released his latest publication, titled Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed. Southerton notes, “In the wake of the recent accomplishments of the Hyundai Motor Group and specifically the Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors brands a question is often raised, ‘What makes Hyundai so successful?’ I tackle this question from a cultural perspective.”

The author points out his objective for Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed is to share insights into the Hyundai Motor Group—a unique inside view of a unique corporate culture.

In addition to the growing number of Hyundai and Kia Motors enthusiasts wishing to learn more about the carmaker, Southerton sees several target audiences for the book. First for the global teams working for the Hyundai Motor Group and its affiliates, Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed will build upon their current experiences, while providing new understandings.

A second audience is firms and vendors providing services or products to the Hyundai Motor Group. This book will be beneficial in strengthening and maintaining the relationship.

A third readership is companies with significant Korea-based business. Although the book offers specific insights into Hyundai Motor, the broader content can apply to many Korean firms in sectors outside automotive.

The eBook is available through iBook, Kindle, Nook, and Amazon.

About the author

With over 35 years’ experience, Don Southerton is the definitive authority on Korean-facing global business, strategy, branding and market entry–from automotive, golf, retail, and QSR/ food sectors to New Urbanism and Green technology.

Building on a life-long interest in Korea and the rich culture of the country, Southerton writes extensively and provides commentary to the media on modern Korean business culture and its impact on global organizations. This is his thirteenth publication. 

LINK  PRWEB Press Release 


New For 2014: Strategic Services

A Note from Don Southerton

While my services have been well received and highly valued over the past decade, in 2013, I began shifting focus from training programs and coaching leadership to a deeper role with a few select clients.

In other words, rather than standing outside the organization and giving advice, counsel and perspective, I actively facilitated and supervised projects that addressed the companies’ pressing needs. This approach, built upon my understanding the nuances of Korean-based business and their companies, has proven to be extremely successful for my clients.

This new role was driven from ten years’ of listening to teams and leadership share (and, at times, vent) challenges. Frankly, after listening to this dialogue, I felt that this expanded value-added approach—one clearly within my skill sets —would serve my clients well.

As we begin 2014, I look forward to supporting you and would like to discuss how this new service can help you meet your firm’s strategic challenges.

Don Southerton Korea consulting







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