Costory CEO Kim Han-kyun Grows in China with Korean EMBA
August 23, 2016

Kim Han-kyun, CEO of Korean cosmetics developer Costory, says he started to dream of becoming a global businessman as soon as began studying the CKGSB Korean EMBA. That’s according to a recent interview he gave to CKGSB’s official Korean blog in which he says he gained broader ambition to expand his business to the global market as he got to know China better.


Kim (above) pictured during a recent CKGSB Korean EMBA China module


Kim is one of the first students of CKGSB’s Korean EMBA, a joint program run with the Seoul School of Integrated Sciences and Technologies (aSSIST) since December 2015 and caters for CEOs and young entrepreneurs from Korean companies with great interest in either doing business with Chinese counterparts or taking their businesses into China.


Kim, who started out his career as Korea’s first male cosmetics blogger while he was in college, founded his own business called Costory in 2012. Launched with just a handful of employees, Kim gradually gained popularity by marketing products online. However, he felt it was almost impossible as a small company to break into the local cosmetics market, which had long been dominated by cosmetics conglomerates and foreign brands.


But his success in China with the company’s flagship natural brand “Papa Recipe” and its famous facial mask pack “Bombee Honey Mask Pack” has changed the fate of Costory – as well as his own – also gaining popularity at home. The company’s annual revenue has exploded, breaking the 50 billion won (USD 44.75 million) mark in the first half of 2016, up from 15 billion won from the whole of last year.



Awed by the potential of the Chinese market, Kim applied to the CKGSB Korean EMBA program last year to learn more about China, its business culture and consumers there.


Kim Han-kyun (white shirt, fourth from right) poses with Dean Xiang Bing (center),

Professor Cho Dong-sung (fifth from right) and other Korean EMBA students


Kim says CKGSB’s unrivaled business network through its alumni and the professors’ objective insiders’ view about China are two of the school’s largest strengths.


“I was given the opportunity to learn insights from CKGSB’s professors and local opinion leaders throughout our Korean EMBA curricula. It helped me to stay up-to-date about the rapidly-changing Chinese market and society,” Kim said. “Additionally, since CKGSB professors provide objective and balanced views about the Chinese market and the government, students can gain a most accurate understanding about the country.”


The following contains edited excerpts of the interview:


Q. You started studying at the CKGSB Korean EMBA program since last December, right after graduating from a master’s program in cosmetics. What led you to choose CKGSB over any other options?


Kim: When the company was still small in size, I focused on knowing more about hands-on knowledge about cosmetics. But as our business grew so rapidly after entering China, I started to feel the need for expertise about business administration. In particular, I came to choose CKGSB’s Korean EMBA program as our business hoped to keep expanding in China. Out of many Chinese EMBAs, the unrivaled alumni network was the key reason why I chose CKGSB.


CKGSB means a lot to me. Even if I don’t work with other CKGSB students or alumni, CKGSB is considered prestigious among most Chinese businesspeople for having been established with the support of the Li Ka Shing Foundation and for its great alumni including Alibaba’s Jack Ma. If I tell my business partner that I’m studying at CKGSB, he or she immediately acknowledges my passion and interest in trying to learn about China.


Q. What does China’s market mean to you, and what business visions do you have for China?


Kim: The Chinese market means a lot to small cosmetic developers from Korea, like us. I think that Costory’s success in China, which is due solely to our product quality, helped us develop the power to compete against bigger players domestically. 


In the future, I hope to do a multi-channel network (MCN) business in China by joining hands with a big video-sharing platform like Youku or Tudou, as well as local beauty content creators. As the beginning of the initiative, Costory plans to produce a 12-episode web drama that tells our brand stories. I hope I can find a great partner at CKGSB who can join me in the content business!


To read the full interview in Korean with Costory CEO Kim Han-kyun, please click here.

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