Korea’s Richest 2019: Self-Made Billionaire Behind Jellyfish And Snail Masks Sees Profits Surge 3000pct

12-Jul-2019 Intellasia | Forbes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Liu Jing, 32, is visiting Seoul from China’s eastern seaboard. Other tourists might spend their day taking in the capital’s sights. Not Liu. She’s lining up behind at least a dozen compatriots in a duty-free shop, waiting her turn to buy JM Solution facial sheet masks. Each box of ten will cost her about $30, but Liu won’t walk away with just one. For the equivalent of $18,000, she and the others buy three refrigerator-sized palettes of cartsso big they have to be wheeled away on dollies.

Liu isn’t buying them for herself. She’s a daigoua Chinese term for surrogate buyers who venture abroad to stock up on popular products and resell them back home. To say JM Solution masks are popular is an understatement. Between its Honey Luminous Royal Propolis Mask, the Lacto Saccharomyces Golden Rice Mask, and the Active Pink Snail Brightening Mask, JM Solution’s owner, GP Club, has sold over a billion skincare masks, mostly in China, since launching them in mid-2017. “It’s the No. 1 seller in China,” says Liu, who says she can earn as much as 20 percent selling JM masks back home in Shandong province. “I’ve been coming here once a month for the past six months.”

Daigous like Liu are partly responsible for catapulting Kim Jung-woong, GP Club’s founder and CEO, onto our list of Korea’s 50 Richest at No. 30 with an estimated net worth of $1.15 billion. Kim, now 44, started his own videogame store in high school, and within a decade had earned enough to venture into China’s gaming accessories market; a decade after that he pivoted to cosmetics in the mainland. But after a diplomatic dust-up which began in 2016 sparked a boycott in China of Korean products, Kim cultivated a following among the mainland’s social media influencers, triggering an invasion of daigous determined to bypass the boycott and ship GP Club’s masks from Korea to sell back in China themselves.

The daigous not only blunted the boycott’s impact, but also helped GP Club grab market share from big-name Korean brands such as Amorepacific and LG Household & Health Care. Driven largely by demand from China’s consumers, sales at GP Club rose nearly tenfold last year to 514 billion won ($460 million), while net profit rose more than 30 times, to 170 billion won. “I rode the wave well,” says Kim in his first major interview since becoming a billionaire. To cope with the growth, he quintupled his staff to 170 last year. “But if you asked me to do it again, I probably couldn’t,” he says.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/gracechung/2019/07/09/south-koreas-richest-2019-self-made billionaire-behind-jellyfish-and-snail-masks-sees-profits-surge-3000/#10775ec559ab


Category: Korea

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