"To me, GIC is more familiar than Seoul"
- President Hwang Woo-seung, Shinwon Ebenezer(Gaeseong)
|At 9:00 a.m. near the front gate of Shinwon Ebenezer factory. There is someone who politely greets North Korean workers. He is
Hwang Woo-seung, a president of Shinwon Ebenezer. Shinwon
Ebenezer is the second largest company in GIC.
On September 22, 2004, when an autumn breeze blew softly,
President Hwang stepped on Gaeseong. He remembered GIC of the
past as ‘waste land’. Although factories were in operation, electricity
supply facility was not available that Hwang had to operate temporary generator to use electricity. Also the power needed to be replaced at fixed hours. “South Korean workers including myself did shift work to replace the power. Waking up in the early morning was just normal.”
Not only electricity but telephone was also precious. Phone was only at Hyundai Asan's office. Therefore, he had to walk for 20 minutes to make a phone call.
Hwang compared the present to heaven considering the past. “But I miss passion in the past,” said President Hwang with smile. “People from the two Koreas were very passionate about GIC project. Their eyes were shining that pure intention was even delivered without words."
North Korean workers mastered beginning course about learning company culture, inspection training and OJT in 2 months. It is three times faster than others who learn the same course for 5~6 months. “North Korean workers were passionate and smart that most of them completed secondary education,” said President Hwang.
However, not all things went smoothly. He thought that there would be no communication problems because Koreans share the same blood, history and cultural roots. When he asked workers how they were doing, he got hurt because they answered ‘일 없습니다(Il up seup ni da)’, an awkward expression to South Koreans that sounds ‘it’s not your business’. It technically means ‘I am okay’ in North Korea.
As some small communication problems got piled up, President Hwang contrived a special way to deal with; he started to greet workers in front of the gate in the morning. This is Shinwon Ebenezer’s unique communication method to deliver sincerity to workers.
President Hwang who feels more comfortable in Gaeseong than Seoul is taking part in many different programs. Most of them, he is into studying Chinese these days. He is studying Chinese two hours a week with 5 other workers from Elgo Gaeseong and K-Water, etc. by forming a study group.
"If a person has a will, there is nothing that he/she cannot do in GIC. The vocational training center provides diverse technical training programs and courses for self-improvement. Club activities such as badminton and futsal are very active too."
However, he thinks that uncomfortable entry and exit system is one of GIC's problems. “I regret I could not be present at my mother's deathbed this early November. If 3C (Come-and-Go, Communications and Customs) gets improved, there’s no problem in globalization of GIC.” He waits for the day when Shinwon Ebenezer stands side by side with world-class companies in GIC. Also he is expecting to learn Chinese from expatriates from China.