There is No Textbook for Changing The World: Social Impact in South Korea

“There is no textbook for changing the world. But I can find the right people with the right missions and provide them with the resources to solve the most difficult problems.” -Kyungsun Chung (’19)

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Luis Acosta (’19) and Sebastian Brunal (’19) at the Heyground entrance

“I was thinking of going into my family business for twenty years or so,” Kyungsun Chung (’19) explained to us, “and then find a way to make a difference. But then I realized I am more of a channel. My purpose is to provide stable infrastructure for the social entrepreneur.”

Kyungsun Chung is one of the trip organizers for Chazen South Korea. He is also the founder of Root Impact, a non-profit that builds capacity for social innovation within his country. On Thursday, he brought us to visit Heyground, the co-working space he created for Korean social ventures. The building just opened in August 2017 and already has 500 employees across approximately 40 non-profit organizations. The nine-story building operates with community as its foundational principle; organizations interested in residency at Heyground must be equally as committed to building cross-organizational relationships as they are to driving their individual company’s success.

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Kyungsun Chung (’19) sharing his journey of founding Root Impact and Heyground

In addition to hearing Kyungsun speak about Root Impact, we also heard from a panel of three entrepreneurs-in-residence.

Enuma: Enuma is a mission-driven, for-profit company focused on providing digital learning for students in Korea with special needs. It also serves children in developing countries who do not have access to effective education. “This is the potential of digital,” said founder Sooinn Lee. “We can scale at large adaptability to serve every child.”

KOA: KOA is innovating in the landscape of sustainable fashion. The company seeks to push beyond traditional “do-gooder” fashion models, namely profit sharing and one-for-one strategies, by helping rural communities turn their raw materials and natural resources into targeted brands, like le cashmere.

Dr. Kitchen: Dr. Kitchen is a local Korean business that operates as the “Blue Apron for diabetes.” It provides subscription Korean-style meals with a low-carb approach. For example, the company mixes up the traditional Korean white rice by providing rice with complex grains, vegetables, and other protein sources mixed in.

After hearing from the entrepreneurs and getting a tour of Heyground’s space, we moved down to the ground floor to eat dinner in Health Club, a restaurant designed by Kyungsun’s sister.

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CBS students eating dinner at Health Club, Heyground’s public restaurant

As a CBS student, it was incredible to see my friend and clustermate Kyungsun already have such a direct and positive impact on the social landscape of Korea. We all left the evening inspired by his leadership and excited to see the continued results of his work when he returns to Root Impact after graduation.

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Lindy Gould (’19) is an MBA candidate at Columbia Business School.

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