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British Chamber in Korea | Interview

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Linguaphone Group Ltd recently worked with the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea (BCCK) to successfully appoint a new, exclusive English Language Master Franchise for their Direct English program across Korea. In this article, Sean Blakeley, Chief Executive Officer of the BCCK, based in Seoul, shares his thoughts on the English for kids market in Korea, and offers tips for any potential Master Franchisee interested to act as our Pingu’s English School Master Franchisee across Korea.

british chamber in korea


What is the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea responsible for?

The British Chamber of Commerce in Korea (BCCK) is an organisation that represents the business interests of its members in Korea. The Chamber represents a broad spectrum of British, international and Korean companies, which all share significant commercial interests in the country.

The Chamber works together with the Department for International Trade (DIT), offering more export support to UK companies in high growth markets. The initiative aims to increase the range of practical, business-to-business support on the ground where businesses need support the most, starting in a number of high-growth and emerging markets, including Korea. The BCCK is supporting Linguaphone Group Ltd in finding the right partner to launch its Pingu’s English business in the market.


Why should an investor consider Korea for developing a business?

Korea is an appealing market for UK companies for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is the world’s 13th largest economy by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It also has a GDP per capita (PPP) of GBP 27,687 – three times that of China and almost equal to that of Japan’s. There are already over 150 British companies currently doing business in Korea, including well-known brands such as Standard Chartered, Jaguar Land Rover, British Airways, Bentley and Burberry. This may be largely in part due to Korean consumers’ taste for British culture and  goods.

South Korea is a designated high growth market for UK exports, and have increased year-on-year since 2009. What’s more the country has a close proximity to the wider Asia-Pacific region, and has the highest level of broadband penetration in the world. Highly-educated, affluent and upwardly-mobile, the Korean people are fast-paced and globally-minded, making Pingu’s English a great brand for the right partner in Korea.

 british chamber in korea

What is the potential for a quality English language training business for children in Korea at the moment

South Korea is one of the highest spenders of private education, and has one of highest rates of university attendance among all OECD countries. English is a required subject from early primary to secondary school and English education is a huge market worth GBP 12 billion. Currently, about 20% of Korea’s annual university entrance exam is comprised of testing students’ English ability; and as the value placed on entering a good university is so high, an ‘education fever’ surrounding the English education market in Korea has grown as parents seek to find the best teachers, schools and materials for their children. As part of their obsession in mastering English, many parents send their children to private English language schools and academies. Thus, there will be always a demand for a quality pre-school English language training business and kindergarten curriculum program in Korea.

How is the franchise market in Korea at the moment?

Currently, the franchise industry comprises 7.8% of Korea’s GDP. According to the Korea FTC (Fair Trade Commission), the franchise industry was estimated to be worth GBP 68.8 billion in 2016. The Korea Franchise Association (KFA) reported that 1,240,000 employees work within the franchise industry in 2014, with 20% working in service industries like education. Korean consumers are very familiar with franchise brands, and value the consistency of product and service that such businesses provide.


What tips would you give any potential Master Franchisees looking to secure the rights to Pingu’s English across Korea?

For those looking to secure the Master Franchise rights to Pingu’s English in Korea, I would give the following tips:

First, be creative. If you already have a franchise business or existing business which is not necessarily in the English education space, but connected to it, then look for those synergies and how Pingu’s English might augment that provision and the opportunity will be all the more appealing.

Second, be ready to invest not just capital but also passion. Whilst a route to a successful franchise business requires an initial capital investment, a significant factor in the appointment of the Pingu’s English Master Franchisee for Korea will be your enthusiasm and belief in the brand and business. With your commitment and drive, coupled with Linguaphone Group’s support throughout the journey, it’s a win-win situation.

Third, value the brand and the provision of high-quality educational content. Pingu is a global character and a hugely valuable brand asset which is very important to the franchise. This popular pre-school brand, along with the course, the materials and the new extended kindergarten offering make Pingu’s English a uniquely holistic offering in the market. Both are equally powerful assets.

british chamber in korea

As a British company, how have you found working with the Linguaphone Group?

We have the opportunity to work with hundreds of companies who are exporters, franchisers or licensers of brands, products or services and I would class Linguaphone Group Ltd as amongst the most professional, hard-working and enjoyable companies to work with.

Always keen to support whatever work is at hand and constantly striving for the best, Linguaphone Group Ltd is passionate about education, committed to its partners and relentless in its pursuit of excellence. I would recommend working with Linguaphone Group Ltd if you ever were to have the opportunity!english for kids korea

For those interested in the opportunity to franchise Pingu’s English across Korea, please contact

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We at the British Chamber of Commerce worked with Linguaphone Group to find them a new in-market partner for the Korean market. Throughout the engagement we had with Linguaphone Group, we found them to be passionate about education, supremely professional in their approach to business and both responsive and personable in their interactions with ourselves and Korean partners. Korean investors were attracted to the best-in-class program which Linguaphone Group offers, the strong reputation of the company and the heritage with which it is associated. These are qualities that resonate globally.

British Chamber Korea

 Sean Blakeley, BCCK CEO

Our Experience with Pingu’s English has been profitable and positive from the first year. We relied on their professionalism and heritage, their staff is always prompt to assist with the latest trends and ideas on the market. We were looking for a brand who can guarantee us quality and a solid method but at the same time would leave us the freedom and flexibility in order to succeed in our challenging and competitive market like the Italian one. We built Pingu’s English project in Italy by mixing their huge international experience in the English training with our knowledge of the Italian market. All this enabled us to do the right decision for our winning investment. Today we have over 40 Pingu’s English centres and thousands of happy children learning English.

Daniele Arboit

Pingu's English Master Franchisee Italy

From our first training session in London 2009- from the academic side to customer service -we felt confident and well equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful Pingu’s English Master Licensees” At the moment, our services to all 23 networked schools across the country are effectively and efficiently backed by Pingu’s English.  No doubt that we see no limit to expand our business to cover 30,000+ schools in the near future!

Nipat Ungpakornkaew

Pingu's English Master Licensee Thailand

I knew about Pingu’s English School through a friend. After research about the school, I decided to enroll my daughter and it was one of the best things I could do to her. She loves studying at Pingu’s English and she cannot wait to the day of the class. I also love Pingu's English School, because there she learns by playing and I can see her progress day by day.

Léia Rodrigues

Pingu's English Student's mother / Brazil

Now she is studying at Pingu’s English School, my daughter only wants to talk to me in English and she is always singing the songs.

Cristiane Doimo

Pingu's English Student's mother /Brazil

Regarding the teaching method they use a figurative storytelling way of starting the lesson,  trying hard to involve the child and make the them curious about the situation. Tom is very happy to go to Pingu’s English because he perceives the School as a playful moment and not just as a learning moment while at the same time he is learning a new language


Pingu's English Student's Mother /Italy

We love Pingu’s English School because the school gives my son the opportunity to learn and develop different skills, especially English skills. He is excited every time to go to school and is always happy when he comes home.

Sapavoot Preedawipart

Pingu's English Student's Mother/ Thailand

Pingu’s English School is not just a school; it is as a second home for my kid. I like it when I see my kid growing and learning in a friendly and safe atmosphere. Most of all, I can see a lot of improvement in his English listening and speaking skills

Piyatida Tudteam

Pingu's English Student's Mother/Thailand

I have being running my own school for 15 years. When I met Pingu’s English, it was love at first sight. Now I am offering the best English Course available to my students and they are loving it as well as their parents. Thank you Pingu’s English!

Giedre Paula

Pingu’s English Unit Franchisee in State of Mato Grosso do Sul

Brazil is a huge Market and the preschool english education industry is growing very fast. All our franchisees are happy with the Pingu’s English methodology as well as the operational manuals Liguaphone offers to Unit Licensees. They feel very well assisted.

Ronaldo Vieira

Pingu's English Master Franchisee in State of Sao Paulo

Abbas always tells me that Pingu's English is the most fun he has all day. I am very glad that this place makes him feel that way and noticeably develop his language skills too


Pingu's English Student's Father/Bahrain

Our students are very enthusiastic in studying at Pingu’s English. They always tell us how much fun and how much they learn here. Parents also keep saying how proud they are with the knowledge and improvements their children are making.

Willian Veloso Rocha

Pingu’s English Unit Franchisee in State of São Paulo

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