I returned from my trip to China and Korea yesterday evening. The trip was a lot more rewarding and exciting than I had imagined. I must start by telling you about Shanghai.
We opened our first branch school in China one year ago. We picked Shanghai as the location for our first China branch, and I saw firsthand what a great city Shanghai is. Shanghai is a modern cosmopolitan city of 23 million people. If you count those who are not yet registered officially as Shanghai “residents”, the number grows to over 30 million. That’s about five times the population of Massachusetts in that one city, Shanghai.
The number of students at our Shanghai school surpassed 220 at the end of our first year. This means we will end up with roughly 450 to 500 students within three years. It seems pretty clear that our high quality content and the international image gave our Shanghai school a great advantage in attracting students. And, there seems to be no other such school anywhere in that city. I think we have a huge potential in Shanghai. Just during the few days I spent there, I gave my approval for a second school in that city, and three other people approached me about opening additional branch schools in Shanghai. It seems everyone else recognizes our potential over there as well.
What is even more baffling is to realize that Shanghai is only one city in a country that has many more such cities. Our potential in China is just tremendous. If I were a bit younger, I think I would be seriously tempted to move to China for a few years so I can supervise the expansion of our network in that huge country.
Jin, Oh-Mee, Erika and Eric (Erika’s dad) came with me from the Boston area. Santos and his students came from Singapore, and David Horrigan traveled from Switzerland to join us in China. It was especially fortunate for us to have Jin there with us. I spoke in English during the one year ceremony and during my seminars, and Jin translated everything into Chinese for our Chinese students. Having Jin there with us was extremely helpful.
I also visited Korea to conduct promotion tests and seminars for our students and to train school owners and instructors from our affiliate schools. We are trying to help these schools establish adult classes in their schools as part of our effort to bring adults back into Taekwondo in Korea. The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) and the Kukkiwon World Headquarters all expressed their appreciation for my efforts in this regard during my visit. They asked if I could conduct additional seminars for them in the future, and I said I could do so if the timing can be worked out.
A news reporter did a story on our Korea school while I was there. He said our Korea branch has the most number of adult students in all of Korea, so it became a news story. It is a good accomplishment for our team in Korea (Seong-Hee, Jed, Instructor Choi and Instructor Sohn). I hope our example will motivate other schools to work even harder to establish successful adult programs in their schools.
All of these trips are wonderful and exciting, but my trip to China was extra meaningful as I was able to see our potential in that country firsthand. I have a feeling we will be training a lot of instructors who can teach in Chinese very soon. I am happy to be back, and I look forward to seeing you in class.
Jae H. Kim