The other day I walked into a Costco warehouse to do some shopping. While walking through the aisle I was offered a sample of cold café latte. What got my attention was not only the palatable taste of the drink but the people who presented it, all seemed to me to be Japanese, Chinese or Korean. But I could not tell. So I asked and they told me they were from South Korea.
My interest in what they do grew because I drive a Hyundai car, a South Korean made car, and because of President Trump, who recently stepped with his 2 feet into North Korean territory. President Trump broke the isolationism tradition that North Korea “enjoyed” since the end of the Korean War 25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953.
I spoke with Scott Yoon, the company’s sales team manager, here from his home country promoting the sales of his employer’s café latte.
Maeil Dairies, established in 1959, owned by Mr. Kim, with 2000 employees, today isconsidered to be the number one South Korean dairy company and proud of its $10 billion annual turnover.
In 1997 the company ventured into the ‘My café Latte‘ business.
“No one thought of the idea of a cold cup of coffee, packed into a creative design cup that poses shipping challenge to keep it cold and fresh, due to its milk content,” Scott told me.
The popular ‘Mild Caffé Latte’, made with whole milk, packed in a distinctive design cup sealed with a foil lid, topped off with a plastic cover and a straw attached to the cup, has been in the South Korean coffee-drink business since 1997.
Selling in the United States began in 2017. First it became available in stores in the Korean community while approaching other markets, among them the Costco chain.
It took a year and Costco gave Maeil Dairies the opportunity to present its Mild Latte to its patrons.
I asked Scott how the sales are going: “Branding is a challenge; we are unknown in the USA while in Korea all our drinks are well known and sell very well,” he replied.
The most popular blend is the Mild Caffè Latte, now being introduced in Costco. But the Maeil Dairies, with 7 manufacturing plants, headquarters in Seoul, right in front of the Blue House, which is Korea’s White House, selling in supermarkets and convenience stores, offers a variety of products: Matcha Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha Latte, Caramel Macchiato, Chocolate Latte and Milk Tea Latte.
Born in 1973 and looking much younger than 46-years-old, married and a father to 2 boys, Scott speaks English well.
I wanted to know much more about South Korea.
“Our country is dynamic. We invented the Ppoli–Ppoli culture, which means everything is fast. Koreans are impatient and hate to wait. We deliver anything and everything. For example, food to people who decided to spend time in the park and did not bring food along.”
“Our Internet service is the fastest in the world. South Korea is the first to provide 5G with the speeds beyond what the current 4G can offer – 5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems, denotes the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards.”
“South Korea is changing politically. Mr. Moon Jae-in, the country’s current president, is moving the country to Center-Left politics, which gives him the support of the younger generation while the older generation remain conservative. Moving the political needle to Center-Left means, social issues are on the table, minimum wage is up and tendency to be slightly friendlier to North Korea, while the older generation still thinks war.”
The one nation who became two due to the war may share a border but are miles apart.
In 2017, South Korea population counted 51.47 million. In 2017, North Korea population counted 25.49 million.
While South Korea’s economy is the 4th largest in Asia and the 11th largest in the world. North Korea, the upper half of the Korean Peninsula, is a nation under a one-man dictatorship. He directly controls the economy, with a command-type economy. This type of economy is also referred to as “socialism,” “centrally planned economy,” “state-run economy” or “communism.”
While drinking several more samples of the tasteful and cold Mild Café Latte, I could not stop thinking about President Trump’s efforts to make North Korea’s dictator realize that the South Korean life style is so much better and rewarding.
But for now, in North Korea some 30 million people are suppressed, disconnected from the world, living in a roofless jail, believing that Kim Jong-un, their dictator with the funny hairstyle, is as powerful as God. They are denied any opportunity to have a better life, a life that is offered just a step away over the border to the south.
I am told that South Korea, Japan and the United States are all democracies Kim Jong-un sees as his foes. Due to the country now possessing nuclear weapons, it is the first time the North Korean dictator has been willing to sit and talk with an American President. He has his finger on the nuclear button which he may never give up.
I sipped one other Mild Café Latte sample and could not let go of the thought what 30 million North Koreans are missing out on having a sip of both Mild Café Latte and freedom.