A few years ago, Dr Kelvin Chan went on a business trip to South Korea. He was so inspired that he called his wife and told her that he wanted to start a B2B company focusing on Korean consumer products. Things moved quickly, and Chan founded the brand Korean Corner and GREEN Project in 2015.
“I did not have any capital or connections when I decide to do imports and exports of Korean products as a B2B business,” Chan said. Despite this lack of resources, the company has grown rapidly. It sells mostly to businesses and organizations, including schools and overseas government departments, and also has branches in locations including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and the United States.
Korean Corner focuses on seven key product areas – or “worlds,” as the company describes them: kitchen, living, kids, outdoor, paper, stationery, and food and beverage.
“These worlds each have their own wholesale markets,” Chan explained. “We select quality and creative Korean products for each of them.”
Being eco-friendly is an essential part of Korean Corner’s ethos. This can be seen in the company’s GREEN Project, which focuses on sustainability. It uses 100% recyclable paper for all its events and activities, including sculptures that have been used in public displays around the world. GREEN stands for Glamorous, Recreational, Environmental sustainable, Enjoyable and Noticeable.
“We built the largest cardboard sculpture for an exhibition in a Hong Kong mall in 2016,” Chan explained. Members of the public also had the opportunity to draw on the sculpture, and to play a part in creating the final artwork.
Besides such large-scale public events, Korean Corner’s sculptures have also been used in museums, galleries and as government promotional tools. This GREEN Project has led to collaborations with governments in Korea and Vietnam as well as Hong Kong, and with international companies including agnes b. and Sotheby’s.
Smaller-scale sculptures such as slides can be created for children’s birthday parties. There is no age limit to these products, Chan explained, as they are not only durable and compatible with high safety standards, but also anti-paper-cut and mildew-proof – so safe and fun for all to use.
Chan added that these projects also serve the purpose of helping consumers learn more about sustainable and eco-friendly products. In fact, Korean Corner has worked with the United Nations on its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and was the first SME to be invited to present its SDGs projects in UN headquarters.
The company has collected several awards over the years. Most recently, Korean Corner and GREEN Project scooped the Hong Kong Awards for Environmental Excellence, Outstanding HKAEE Promotional Partner and were recognized as a Green Organization.
But the company is not just about large-scale exhibitions and sculptures. It also has a huge range of practical everyday items.
“One of my most popular products is a small Mushroom Stool,” Chan explained. It is light and sturdy, has a loading of a maximum of 300 kilograms, and does not use any glue or screws in its construction.
Chan believes that we are now at a turning point in terms of reusing items and materials. People are increasingly aware of the importance of recycling, rather than simply throwing everything in the trash.
“I feel satisfied because I can extend the life of paper products by reusing them,” Chan said. “Giving back to society is another focus in my company, along with the importance of GREEN Project.”
Besides the paper world, toys are another key sector for Korean Corner. Among its big sellers are its wooden building-block toys, which are made from natural hardwoods and treated with plant oil. The patented locking system means they can be safely used by small children to create toys including dinosaurs and racing cars.
Another popular product sold by Korean Corner is VATOOL, an educational and upcycling toy that enables children and students to uses recycled plastic bottles to create toys, artworks and sculptures. The VATOOL pieces act as links to enable the users to connect plastic bottles in different ways. This encourages children to think creatively, and some schools have started using the VATOOL collection in their art lessons.
“We are planning to focus on cooperating with schools,” Chan said. “If we could explore more possibilities with other organizations, we can introduce more people to this meaningful invention.”
Chan believes that being environmentally friendly as a company is only the start, and he hopes that Korean Corner can help to spread its eco-friendly message to the wider community.
Company: Korean Corner
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