President Cho Hyeonju of Green Care
Start a business by looking into the future rather than immediate benefits
President Cho Hyeonju was introduced in the 71st issue of ‘Dongposarang (loving compatriots)’. Six years ago, he first stepped into the cleaning industry in Gwangju Metropolitan City as a one-man business. Being curious of his business’ change since then, we hopped on the KTX to seek him out.
President Cho Hyeonju seemed busy even while he was greeting the reporting team. He shared that a characteristic of the business was that there was no differentiation between night and day. A white board showing the tightly packed schedule showed just how busy his life is.
A small start
After graduating from Hanawon (the settlement support center for North Korean refugees) at the age of 25, he started his settlement with hardship as he worked as a laborer in papering, wall cleaning, construction sites, and more. Then after an associate’s proposal, he took over a cleaning business and started a one-man business in 2017. In the beginning stages, since it was his first time running a business, he suffered more losses as a result of his inadequate business methods. He didn’t have enough funds so he had to take out loans to pay out salaries.
Achieved 500 million KRW in annual profits from a generous heart and trust
Having started in a difficult environment, President Cho gradually grew his business with diligence and sincerity. In his third year of operation, he was able to steadily operate his business, and now, as it is reaching its 6th year, his firm enjoys over 500 million KRW in annual profits.
He thought of expanding from just cleaning to disinfection and so he has been able to bring in profits even in a difficult time such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Cleaning profits showed a downfall but disinfection work to prevent contagious diseases has been so popular that 24 hours in a day is not enough.
He emphasized that a ‘generous heart’ and a ‘mindset of service’ is important in the service industry. “It’s not an overstatement to say that your conscience is at stake with your work because you’re cleaning things that cannot be seen. If you want to clean out air conditioners, you just take it apart to clean it then put it back together and that’s it. No one ever opens it. But if you lie to your conscience, it makes you uncomfortable. So for me, even if it’s for a one-time customer, I provide my service with a sense of calling toward my work and with ethical standards.”
Currently, he’s running the company together with 5 employees. Four of them are North Korean refugees. When asked about future plans, he answered, “Taking into account the overall economic slump, I plan to run the current company more solidly and stably rather than expanding it.”
For North Korean refugees who dream of starting their own business in the initial stages of their settlement, he shared, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you try as if your life depended on it. I think it’s better to take on the challenge of starting a business not just for greed but while having the peace of mind to see the far future. Throw away the prejudice that there’s not enough room for you to stand in because you’re a North Korean refugee, and you’ll start to see things you can do when you think you must find a place to stand because you are a North Korean refugee. Don’t give up. Opportunities come to everyone but it’s up to you to grab them.”