Few Americans realize how very different the Korean way of doing business is from the Chinese approach, or Japanese methods from the Koreans'.
One person who has an understanding of these economic superpowers, and 20 years of experience to back it up, is the host of "One World," Yue-Sai Kan. The striking Kan, a television producer and former importer, is the centerpiece of the PBS series, "Yue-Sai Kan's Doing Business in Asia."
The first of four 30-minute installments will air on WHMM (Channel 32) beginning Wednesday at 9:30. The following three parts also air on Wednesdays at 9:30 on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 and 12. WNVC (Channel 56), which has been airing the series, concludes it Thursday at 9.
The four shows deal with doing business in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Each program addresses social and business customs of the country. Kan focuses on entrepreneurial opportunities and explains how American business practices need to be adapted for success in Asia.
"You have to learn what works, rather than teach what has worked for you," she tells her audience. "You can make 10 trips to Japan and you may not get as much as we are giving you in a half hour."
Kan emphasizes the distinctiveness of each country as she examines its cultural and human realities. In Japan, patience is paramount. In Taiwan, smaller business act much faster. In South Korea, there is a great impatience to make deals even faster. "They're making money and spending it," Kan points out.
The 43-year-old Kan is executive producer of the series, which KCTS/Seattle put together for PBS syndication. The series has already been shown in several major markets including Seattle, Los Angeles and Detroit, where it garnered positive reviews.
The programs were gleaned from four one-hour videos produced by Kan and underwritten by Northwest Airlines, which also underwrote the television series. The videos sell for $425 each, or $1,500 for the set.
Born in China and raised in Hong Kong, Kan lives in New York City where her television production company is based on swanky Sutton Place. She is equally at home on both sides of the Pacific and almost effortlessly bridges the gap between vastly dissimilar cultures.
She established a television record with her show "One World" when it aired on China Central Television in 1986, giving Chinese viewers a first look outside the Bamboo Curtain. They loved it and her. Her visits to China saw her cheered in Tiananmen Square and mobbed at The Great Wall. Women told their hairdressers they wanted a "Yue-Sai bob." CCTV estimated that an average of 50 people watched her in front of each of the country's 80,000 television sets, giving her an audience of 400 million, more than any other television personality in the world.
She also persuaded CCTV to leave in the commercials of her American sponsors (another first) such as Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, General Foods, Gillette and Xerox. Her "Looking East" series, which aired on The Discovery Channel, is currently being shown in China.
Yue-Sai Kan bridges two vastly dissimilar cultures.