‘Come and see the way we work here’

Derek Long
Derek Long

A invitation to visit St Helens was delivered over 5,000 miles away by a Rainhill resident.

Cabinet Minister Suh Seoung-hwan, head of Korea’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry met up with management consultant Derek Long at the Korean government’s International Finance Forum in Seoul last week, who told him “Come and see the St Helens way of doing business!” .

The conference was convened in the five star Shilla Hotel to discuss solutions to the Asian republic’s deep seated housing challenges.

Sharing the platform with Derek, was President Obama’s head of the US government’s mortgage agency, Ted Tozer, otherwise known as the Trillion Dollar Man.

“It’s all about jobs,” said Derek, an Oxford-educated economist.

“In today’s global economy, the competition for business is fierce.

“So it’s vital that we grab every opportunity to build links with the growing Pacific-rim economies.

“I know Council Leader Barrie Grunewald will make sure the council will follow my invitation up.”

The Korean housing market is very different from that in the UK.

The big difference is that a rental deposit can be 60-80 per cent of the entire value of a home but tenants then live rent free for two years.

Owning your own home is currently not popular as prices are static and most renting is done from private landlords.

Due to limited land availability, a very large proportion of Korean residents live in small apartments, even in prosperous districts like Gangnam.