[THE INVESTOR] Park Se-bin, 29-year-old CEO of DICO, a Korean language service provider for Spanish speakers, is set to embark on a 10-month trip to Chile next month, during which he will be setting up his firm’s Latino base camp.
DICO, coined from the words Disfruta Corea that means Enjoy Korea, was selected by Start-Up Chile, a public startup accelerator created by the Chilean government, which is one of the top 10 seed accelerators in the world. The goal of DICO is to become the best in its league over the long-term.
DICO CEO Park Se-bin
Park will be setting up his first Latin America branch in Chile, and is gearing up for the startup’s expansion in the region, which he believes to be the next land of promise for hallyu -- a widely-used term that refers to the popularity of Korean entertainment and culture overseas.
“The Korean government estimates there to be around 78 million hallyu fans. Among them, 18 million are believed to be in Central and South America,” Park said.
Out of those 18 million in Latin America, Park said some 4 million are interested in learning Korean in order to inch closer to their favorite hallyu celebrities.
“I taught Korean language while living in Argentina for a year in 2014 but there was not enough material so I had to teach my students using an English textbook,” Park spoke of his motivation to found DICO.
“We provide Korean-language materials using K-drama or other K-pop related video contents from SBS so that learners can learn the language in fun ways,” Park said. In cooperation with Korea’s major broadcasting system SBS, DICO-- with 12 staff -- has offered 860 videos and plans to upload 100 new videos every month.
“We ran a beta service for three months from Dec. 1 and attracted more than 33,000 members from 87 countries. After launching a renewed version in July, we aim to reel in more than 400,000 by next year,” Park added. “I believe hallyu will continue to be popular. The Korean Wave has lasted 20 years in Japan and China but it’s just starting in Central and South America.”
The CEO hopes to attract investments from local investors there and make Latin America as its base camp while making Korea the research and development center.
“During the next 10 months, we will be learning and testing the market environment there, while also meeting with investors and potential partners.”
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)