South Korea’s Park Tells ‘Gangnam Style’ Boss to Go After China

South Korean President Park Geun Hye urged South Korean executives, including the owner of “Gangnam Style” singer Psy’s record label, to do more to court China’s growing middle class.

South Korea should be more “aggressive” breaking into the world’s second-biggest economy, Park told dozens of South Korean executives, including YG Entertainment Inc. (122870) Chief Executive Yang Min Suk, who joined her state visit to China, according to a statement released by her office.

The conversation was part of Park’s effort to build on agreements signed yesterday with President Xi Jinping to work toward a free trade agreement as she seeks to boost economic growth that slowed in 2012 to the slowest pace since 2009. The two sides pledged to boost trade by 140 percent to $300 billion by 2015, and South Korea’s success depends on China, Park said.

Yesterday’s agreements “will have a huge trickle-down effect in accelerating and better facilitating negotiations on the free trade accord,” said Chung Hwan Woo, research fellow at the state-run Institute for International Trade in Seoul.

Park also met 300 Chinese business leaders and officials at a forum today, calling on the two nations to open their consumer markets to each other. A self-taught Mandarin speaker, Park cited a Chinese proverb about “the importance of becoming friends before doing business.”

While China’s role as a production base has been significant to South Korean businesses, “such a method of commerce will soon hit a wall,” Park told the executives. “I urge you to take note of China’s expanding middle class,” Park said, which she added will quadruple to 400 million people by 2020.

Samsung Factory

Tomorrow, Park will visit Xi’an, the location of a memory-chip factory that Samsung Electronics Co. has scheduled to complete in 2014. YG Entertainment plans to open an office in China this year after opening up YG e-Shop CHINA, a website that sells merchandise from South Korean artists including Psy, 2NE1 and Big Bang, the Seoul-based company said in a June 24 statement on its website.

Ties between the two countries are currently at a “new, historic starting point,” Xi said yesterday in a joint press conference with Park, after a three-hour summit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at syoon32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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