Korea Thinks Small

With giant conglomerates cutting back in Asia, one of its ailing major economies struggles to build a culture of small, upstart entrepreneurs

After spending five years as a construction-site manager at Korea's giant conglomerate Samsung, Chung Hwan Oak was used to giving orders, not taking them. So making sales calls for his new catering business was hard on his pride. After bowing deeply, Chung, 49, would pitch his hot-pot lunches--steaming vegetables with shrimp and fiery pepper sauce--then explain how he had lost his Samsung job. Often people slammed the door in his face. Those who listened didn't offer him a chair. The frosty treatment stung, but Chung knew that in status-conscious Korea, Samsung is at the top of the job heap, and catering...

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