Puns, Colombia’s Relationship to Korea and Chaebols

…Juegos de palabra, la relacion entre Colombia y Corea y sus Chaebol

(version español)

TLC entre Colombia y Correa

Speaking of Relationships...

It’s Valentine’s Day week so let’s talk about relationships. Free trade commercial relationships. 😉

In this post, we’ll take another look at puns and some great articles on South Korea, one of  Colombia’s new free trade partners.  This commercial relationship will gain more importance over the next several years and now is the time to get ahead of it or prepare ourselves for future deals between Korea and Colombia.

The language of international business is English.  That’s why Bogota Business English is such a great way to improve your professional prospects by getting your English to the next level. Prepare yourself!

We’ve bolded some words or phrases that we’ll explain below.  Also try to determine which words or phrases are puns  Forget what a pun is? Review here.  The following excellent article comes from the Economist’s SEOUL desk and discusses the Chaebol or conglomerate problem in South Korea.

Bakers and chaebol in South Korea

Let them eat cake

A half-baked effort to curb the conglomerates

SOME parents give their children cakes. A few give them cake shops. The hot topic in South Korea is the trend for daughters and grand-daughters of chaebol families to open bakeries and other small food outlets. The chaebol are the conglomerates that dominate the Korean economy, so these plutocratic pâtissières have deeper pockets than any of the little bakers they compete against.

Their baking has provoked outrage. Lee Myung-bak, South Korea’s president, calls it a “hobby” business for rich girls that threatens the livelihood of poor shopkeepers. Lee Ju-young, a member of the national assembly, likens it to Park Ji-sung (Manchester United’s Korean midfielder) lording it over amateurs in a backstreet game of football. A restaurateur in Seoul puts it more plaintively: “These families already control everything else in Korea. Why can’t they leave something for the rest of us?”

The chaebol families have decided that this is not a battle worth picking. Scions of the Samsung, LG and Hyundai dynasties are all hanging up their aprons. Artisée, a chain of swanky pastry shops run by Lee Boo-jin, whose dad is the chairman of Samsung, is to close. So is the Hyundai-affiliated Ozen.

Whether this will help small bakers much is open to question. Artisée has only 27 shops; Ozen a mere two. Both are cupcakes in comparison to SPC Group, which operates more than 3,000 Paris Baguette shops in Korea. Buns have always been SPC’s bread and butter—and its boss is not an heiress.

Some say all this pie-throwing distracts attention from the real problems that overmighty chaebol cause. Entrepreneurs complain that if they have a good idea, the chaebol show up with their chequebooks and poach their staff. Small firms that supply chaebol complain that they are ruthlessly squeezed, though few dare say so publicly.

Consumers also suffer. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) detected over 3,500 cases of price-fixing in 2010, but only 66 led to fines. The average penalty amounted to just 2.3% of unfairly earned revenue. Samsung and LG were fined in January for fixing the prices of notebook PCs and flat-screen televisions between June 2008 and September 2009. Samsung was ordered to pay a fine of 25.8 billion won ($23m); LG, 18.8 billion won. LG’s fine is to be waived, in return for co-operation with the FTC. This is the third time the two firms have been caught price-fixing in the past two years.

Politicians follow the same old recipes when dealing with the chaebol. They lean on banks to lend cash to small firms. And they lean on the chaebol to stay out of a few minor businesses, such as baking or tofu-making. However you sugarcoat it, this is not serious reform.

Wow.  This article was full of puns! I counted 7 puns. And you?

We’ve learned a little bit more about Colombia’s new trading partner, now lets understand some of the vocabulary.

Let them eat cake – famous quote attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette that implies socio-economic divisions (PUN b/c references food) [que coman pasteles]

half-baked – badly planned or executed (PUN b/c references food) [mal concebido, medio cocinado]

curb – slow down or stop something. [refrenar, poner freno a algo]

chaebol – Korean word for the conglomerates that control much of the Korean economy. French word for pastry. (English borrows many words!) [conglomerado en Corea]

pâtissière – French word for pastry. (English borrows many words!) [confitería]

battle not worth picking – an argument or fight that is more trouble than it is worth [no vale la pena la molestia]

scion – descendent [descendiente]

hang up something – give up something or quit some activity [colgar algo, renunciar participar en alguna actividad]

Peyton Manning is hanging up his pads and giving up football.

apron –  a garment or clothing article covering part of the front of the body and tied at the waist, for protecting the wearer’s clothing. (PUN b/c used to make food) [delantel]

swanky – fancy [elegante y lujoso, tal vez ostentoso]

bread and butter – core area. (PUN b/c references food) [pan de cada día]

Bavaria’s bread and butter is beer.

pie-throwing – a silly and messy fight [pelea con pasteles]

chequebook – British  English for checkbook. [chequera]

poach – to illegally hunt and kill. Used metaphorically it means to break rules in order to gain something or someone. [cazar furtivamente]

price-fixing – illegally setting a price between several parties so that the consumer pays more than is normal [pacto ilícito para fijar artificialmente los precios ]

same old something – an often repeated something that is not desired [el mismo algo de siempre]

Most institutes have the same old format with standardized content. Nothing is personalized like Bogota Business English!

recipe –list of ingredientes and steps to achieve something, usually a dish or food item (PUN b/c references food) [receta]

lean on – pressure (politically) or threaten [presionar a alguien]

sugarcoat – make a bad situation seem better with positive words. (PUN b/c references food)  [disfrazar, endulzar]

You can’t sugarcoat what is happening in Greece.

Interested in understanding the Chaebols further? See this other great Economist article.

Need to improve your English to trade with Korea? Talk to Bogota Business English.


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