Commemorative Book 120/20


The commemorative book officially launched!

Draft of the commemorative book: personalized box, book and CD Rom

After the steering commitee chaired by the French Ambassador to Korea H.E. Philippe Thiébaud on February 9, the commemorative book for the 120th anniversary of the relationships between France and Korea and the 20th anniversary of the FKCCI is moving forward, with the support of 14 Platinum sponsors and 11 Gold Sponsors.


Platinum Sponsors

Accor Group
Air France
BNP Paribas
D.P.J. & Partners
Groupe Seb Korea
Hanbul Energy Management
Libra Conseils
Renault Samsung Motors

Gold Sponsors

Air Liquide
Clestra Hauserman
Crown Relaocations
Kim & Chang
Samsung Total
Société Générale
Schneider Electric
Veolia Water


Why a book ?


From the first Trade and Friendship treaty in 1886 to the Global partnership decided by the two Presidents Roh Moo-Hyun and Jacques Chirac in 2004, a commemorative book to celebrate 120 years of bilateral relationship.

This prestigious book will mark this exceptional year and promote bilateral economic relations.

For more about the commemorative book :
Article about the commemorative book by Charles Duerden (
Source: Invest Korea Journal (
"The year 2006 will mark two important anniversaries in Korean/French relations."

Firstly, it will be the 120th year since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries through the signing of treaty concerning commerce and navigation on June 4th 1886. Since that time, the two countries have maintained diplomatic links that have remained unbroken to the present.

The anniversary will be observed at a governmental level by a number of joint economic and business seminars plus a program of cultural events that the Korean and French governments will stage in each other's countries beginning in March that will run to the end of the year. Although there will be no presidential visits, President Roh Moo-Hyun having made a state visit to France as recently as December 2004, a series of ministerial exchanges has been planned, For example, French foreign trade minister Mme Christine Lagarde will visit Korea while Korean prime minister Lee Hae-Chan and finance and economy minister Han Duck-Soo will visit France.

Two thousand and six will also be the 20th year since the founding of the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), the premier organization for the promotion of French business interests in Korea.

To celebrate these twin anniversaries, the Chamber will publish a commemorative book entitled the 120/20 An-niversary Book that will serve to detail the origins and current status of the French presence in Korea, the contribution that France has made to the country, the background to the success of French corporations in the Korean marketplace, and the direction that they see themselves taking in the future.

In explaining the origins of the project, Philippe Li, president of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry and attorney at law with Kim & Chang said that in view of their significance, his organization deemed it fitting to create something lasting as a permanent memento of the anniversaries and the events that will attend them.

"We at the chamber we thought it would be a great opportunity during this year of commemoration to produce something to remember it by once it is over, as a kind of keepsake," he said. "We also believed it would be of value to have something that documents the relations between the two countries and the history of our chamber as a reminder of events and developments that have been forgotten or are not talked about very often."


Among these events, the book will cover the signing of the treaty in 1886, give an explanation to its background, and contain an image of the document itself. It will also detail the long history of French missionaries in Korea, some of whom distinguished themselves as biologists or botanists in their country of adoption or who had contributed to compiling French/Korean dictionaries or Korean grammars in French. The book will also portray one of the most significant French contributions to Korea, the French Battalion that served under the flag of the United Nations during the Korean War. "It's time for us to pay tribute to the young French soldiers who came here during the War and who fought for the sake freedom and South Korea," said Mr. Li.

Prominent in the book's contents will be the story of the development of French business in Korea, how corporations established themselves, how they evolved to become leading players in Korean market and their outlook for future.

"We don't wish to focus solely upon the past," explained Mr. Li. "An important aspect of the book will be the relationships that French companies currently enjoy in Korea and how they might evolve in the future. We also want to highlight Korean and French products that are popular in each other's country."

In this context, Korean cars are becoming steadily more popular in France as are electronic products such as MP3s and flat-screen TVs. One little known product that has made a big hit in the French market and beyond is the perfume Lolita Lempicka. Manufactured in France by the Korean cosmetics company Pacific Chemical at its factory in Chartres, the perfume is also exported worldwide.

Indeed, the Franco/Korean commercial relationship is vital and of increasing significance.

Bilateral trade in 2004 amounted to 5 billion euros, composed of Korean exports to France worth 3 billion euros, and French exports to Korea worth 2 billion euros. Notably, Korean exports to France grew by 50 percent in 2004 on the back of intensified demand for automobiles and cutting-edge electronics products from companies such as Samsung and LG.

Among the best-known French products imported by Korea are machinery, luxury consumer goods and chemicals.

On the investment front, the Korean commitment in France is limited with big conglomerates tending to make investments of a non-manufacturing nature. However, they are steadily strengthening their presence. For example, in December 2004 LG Electronics opened its European R&D center specializing in third-generation cell phones in Villepinte, just north of Paris. Representing an initial investment of 4 million euros, the project will eventually employ 100 persons.

In terms of French investments in Korea, France is the fourth largest investor. The capital stock of the 180 French corporations operating in Korea amounts to US$6 billion that in total generates an annual turnover of 9 billion euros. With regard to employment, some 27,000 Koreans have jobs with French companies.

"The French corporate presence is significant and has expanded severalfold since the financial crisis," said Mr. Li. "A lot of French companies took advantage of the new laws and regulations, the opening of the market, together with merger and acquisition opportunities that came about at that time to take substantial positions in the market. We have now have French companies represented in Korea such as Total, Renault Samsung Motors, Thales, Lafarge and Hanglas that rank among the major corporate entities of France and which are the most active in the local market since the crisis."

Against this backdrop, Mr. Li said the book represented an opportunity to enhance the image of France in Korea, by describing the activities and accomplishments of the Chamber's membership, while at the same time it would increase and enhance the exposure of Korea in France.

"I believe that in order for them to be effective, it's necessary to ensure that all forms of national promotions work in both directions," he said. "For example, if you want to stimulate the interest of French companies in the Korean market, then people in France have to know Korea better or gain a greater interest in Korea while the same is true on the other side." For Korean companies to have greater interest in the French market, continued Mr. Li, it is essential that they understand it better.

Despite the fact that the onset of the digital era means information is increasingly transferred and stored electronically and is accessed by downloading, Mr. Li said he considers the concept of a book as a commemorative item retains great merit.


"I believe that a book in this context still has a strong value since it enable us to commemorate this anniversary year in a material way," he said. "Once published, the book would also provide an opportunity for us at the chamber and our members to present it as a gift to customers and associates, when we meet dignitaries from either of our countries or the representatives of French and Korean companies in general."

Given the scope of the chamber, Mr. Li said that rather than detail the entire history between Korea and France, the book would strive instead to convey something of the "flavor" of Korea where the pace of change is fast and where incoming foreign companies must understand that pace.

Mr. Li said the book would focus too upon the role of the chamber and how it has changed in the 20 years since its founding."We wish to show the evolution of the chamber over the last 20 years and to show how this has occurred in parallel with the evolution of Korea, in the light of major advances such as the hosting of the 1988 Olympics, the process of democratization, the gradual opening of the market to foreign companies, the financial crisis and the country's recovery," he said. "All these steps we will describe from a French point of view and in tandem with the development of the chamber and its members, and explain how they have gained footholds in the Korean market as a direct consequence of the country's economic development."

He stressed that the role of the chamber has changed significantly."Twenty years ago it was more like a social club for French businessmen living in Korea," he said. "This is still a core role for the chamber, to provide an information network and act as a coordinator and facilitator for French companies in Korea."

At same time, though, he pointed out that the chamber has opened its doors to Korean companies that have business links with France while over the last three years the FKCCI has striven to become more involved in Korean business and financial circles in an effort to maximize its exposure in Korea.

"We're also strengthening our activities on behalf of French companies that don't have broad knowledge of the Korean market or that are attempting to get a foothold here," he said. "One of my goals is to monitor what's going on between the two countries, and act as a catalyst to spur bilateral projects."

The book will be written in the Korean and French languages and written by two main authors among the chamber's membership who have been invited to contribute by a steering committee struck by the French ambassador. Chamber staff members will also make contributions and certain members of the journalistic community are expected to assist in its presentation.

A sponsor program is in place to enable chamber members to promote their companies or tell the story of their achievements in Korea and their goals for the future.

The audience for the book is somewhat targeted in nature, notes Mr. Li. "The most important targets are our members and their business networks composed of their customers and suppliers," he said. "We also want to attract the interest of opinion leaders in France and Korea in business and political circles, too." Part of this plan was to distribute the book through the French embassy and the Korean embassy and circulate it among all companies and related bodies that have an interest in the Franco/Korean business relationship.

"For those who do not have this interest, we would like to trigger interest through the book," Mr. Li said.


 Léon C. ROCHOTTE : février 2006


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