100 Next-Era CEOs in Asia 2013 -The region's best brightest, most promising-


CEO Kim BooGon

South Korea
Message to young people
You need to have an original identity in terms of products and style to be independent in any field. Please freely explore ideas without worrying about the Japanese style.

My family was not wealthy. I loved drawing pictures and singing from my childhood because my parents fostered my talent in the artistic field. I won awards at various events. When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a baseball player. Actually, I joined a children's baseball team. I tried to enter an art university, hoping to be a painter, but I failed the entrance exam. After entering a different university, I made money for school expenses by running a small design company. I hoped to be No. 1 in the design field.

I had no clear-cut idea about what the best designer is, but I remember I worked very hard all night. After I failed to get into an art university, I switched my goal to commercial art. There was no department related to interior design at any university around 1980. The architecture department was popular for students like me because it handles living space.

I hoped to start my business with a brand bearing my own name after I turned 30. I did not like to do jobs in a situation where people meddle in my affairs. I wanted to design something with a firm personal idea. I also had a will to get it done without fail. In 1992, I opened Corehands, a design office bearing my name, with the help of a friend.

The biggest challenge for me was to process everything by myself: fund management, personnel management, tax-related work and negotiations with banks. I was not very good at these jobs. To be honest, we had a hard time in 1997 when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stepped in to rescue South Korea from a financial crisis. I achieved success probably because I stuck to my original style. I personally meet our clients and talk with them about details. This may be another strong point for us.

My business has become a model company in the design industry. I would like to strengthen my business in terms of goals for design and leeway in management so that younger designers may obtain something useful from my business. We also hope to expand into other countries.

Company Profile

Seoul/South Korea
Architectural and Interior design