By Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik, VCs Jang Chang-yong, Joy Cho, Reporter Ms. Jeong Da-jeong
On July 21, a number of ambassadors and other members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps visited the BBQ University in Icheon City, Gyeonggi Province, about an hour’s run southeast of Seoul, in a Diplomat Feminization Tour at the invitation of the chairman of the BBQ University and Company (Chairman Yoon Hong-geun) organized by The Korea Post media.
It was a good tour where the ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps had a rare first-hand opportunity to have a look into how one of the leading non-Jaebeol Korean businesses was doing.
The bb.q, according to BBQ company officials, stands for “Best of the Best Quality,” and they emphasize, “That’s exactly what you can expect from every one of our BBQ restaurants.:
BBQ officials say: “Our fried chicken is crispier, juicier, and more tender than anything you’ve tasted before, and our sauces provide an eclectic mix of flavor. Every dish is the result of both longstanding Korean tradition and modern research and development from our very own Chicken University. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but it’s all worth it when you take that first bite.”
According to the BBQ officials, Chairman Yoon founded bb.q chicken in Seoul in 1995 with one simple mission: “Serve great-tasting, high-quality Korean fried chicken to the world--as well as Korea. It’s safe to say that mission succeeded, as bb.q now operates in thousands of stores across the globe.”
They said: “Our secret is simple. We’re passionate about chicken, and we’re passionate about Korea. We established Chicken University in Korea to keep us on the cutting edge of quality and flavor, and all our stores, whether it’s in Korea or Kansas, champion Korean culture with authentic recipes, exciting flavors, and superior customer service.”
There are many things special about Chairman Yoon.
To attract talented people, he raises the salary of new employees to the level of Jaebeol business companies, which is unconventional for a non-jaebeol business organization. If he needs talent, he hires him regardless of the pay demanded. Chairman Yoon has declared a "new talent management."
It stems from the management philosophy that in order to make excellent products, the highest quality raw materials and excellent human resources must be used.
Yoon’s behavior is reminiscent of that of the late Chairman Lee Byung-chul, who built Samsung into what the Samsung Business Group is today.
Samsung in the 1950s conducted the first public recruitment test in Korea under the slogan "Talent First, Build the Nation!" to gather talented people.
Their talents became the foundation of today's Samsung Group and a force behind the ‘Miracles of the Korean Economy.’ Samsung's talented employees were later recruited by various companies, establishing Samsung as a training center for talented people and a ‘military academy’ for great business managers.
Chairman Yoon's prioritization of talents and raw materials is reflected in the quality of his chicken products. By providing the most delicious and cost-effective chicken, BBQ quickly dominated the domestic market and grew to become the number one company.
Genesis BBQ's management philosophy is: "To do whatever the customer wants," and to “Provide the highest-quality welfare to its employees. This philosophy embodies Chairman Yoon's goal to be the best in the world and the spirit of respect for people.
Chairman Yoon's unconventionality is evident everywhere.
When he was president of the Korean Ice Hockey Federation in 2022, the following incident occurred.
When one of the Korean athletes, who was expected to win the Gold Medal at the Olympics, finished the second place, Chairman Yoon personally visited and met with the disappointed athlete, encouraged him, and asked him what he wanted.
When the athlete told him that he wanted to eat BBQ every day for the rest of his life, Chairman Yoon immediately agreed and helped him win the Gold Medal. Other athletes were also given chicken pensions.
A world where everyone eats well. According to a survey by the American restaurant magazine Nation's Restaurant News, Korea's Genesis BBQ ranked 332nd in brand value among 110,000 companies surveyed and second in terms of growth.
This means that BBQ chicken is more popular overseas than in Korea. The company also won the Overseas Pioneering Award at the 100 Best Franchise Awards held by the Maeil Business Newspaper (Maeil Gyeongje) last spring.
Chairman Yoon, who graduated from Chosun University and started his professional life at Miwon (now Daesang), is said to use "motherly sincerity" as his management strategy. He loves his company, cares for his employees, and embraces his customers with a mother's heart and care,
Yoon dreams of creating a world where everyone in the world can eat well and live well.
It is interesting to see how far Genesis BBQ will go as a representative of Korea’s Hallyu food culture in the global market
BBQ, which has already established itself as a top company in the domestic franchise industry with more than 2,000 stores, plans to increase its global stores to 50,000 by 2030, making it the world's largest franchise group.
Therefore, for the next six months, the company will strengthen overseas promotion by inviting foreigners, including diplomats, to visit Chicken University in a feminization tour.
The ambassadors and other senior diplomats, with their spouses, who participated in the first tour, departed from the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Seoul by a super-deluxe limousine bus at 9 a.m. and arrived at Chicken University at around 10:40 a.m. After receiving a brief briefing on the company's current status from Vice Chairperson Yoon Kyung-joo (sister of Chairman Yoon), the ambassadors and other diplomats proceeded to take a first-hand chicken-cooking experience at a large BBQ Chicken kitchen.
In her greeting, Vice-Chairperson Yoon said, "Chicken University is not a place that serves chicken, but a university that teaches how to make a good barbecue chicken."
Moving to the chicken cooking room, the ambassadors and other diplomats had a hands-on cooking experience for more than an hour receiving the guidance of the company's chef on the entire cooking process, from frying the raw chicken in oil to the finished product. The participating diplomats were presented with their own finished chicken to take back home as a gift.
The ambassadors and other senior diplomats then toured the chicken production facilities and moved to an auditorium for a 1.5-hour lunch of various types of chicken made by the company with draft beer.
At 3:20 p.m., the visiting ambassadors and other diplomats took a commemorative photo with Chairman Yoon Ho-geun in front of a natural-colored sculpture of Korea's largest chicken before departing.
Chairman Yoon seemed to have fondness for the mighty animals of heaven and earth: tigers, eagles, and dragons. At the BBQ Company, the visiting ambassadors and other diplomats saw three tigers.
The tigers were said to be the guardians of the school, warding off bad clouds from the sky, ghosts from the ground.
There also were statues of strongest animals carved out of expensive jade and placed in front of the building's entrance.
Visiting members of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps to the BBQ University:
Ambassador Ileka Atoki of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Mrs. Mzamu Kanema, spouse of the Ambassador of Congo
Ambassador Datuk Lim Juay Jin of Malaysia
Mrs. Mzamu Kanema, spouse of the Ambassador of Malaysia
Charge d’Affaires Mrs. Agnes Mbayo of Sierra Leone
Mr. Charles Mbayo, spouse of the Charge d’Affaires of Sierra Leone
Counsellor Antonio Henriquez of the Republic of Panama
Republic of Panama
Mrs. Patricia Castillio, spouse of the Counsellor of Parana
Counsellor Hassan Usman Abubakar of Nigeria
First Secretary Joseph Machina of the Republic of Zambia
Mrs. Catherina Besa, spouse of the First Secretary of Zambia
First Secretary Shakhrizod Kurbanov of Uzbekistan
Mrs. Dilnoza Kurbanov, spouse of the First Secretary of Uzbekistan
With their children, including:
Miss Shakhrinoz Kurbanov