Changing Fortunes for a Korean Entrepreneur in Taiwan
Chen Keren was an only child, whose father owned a canteen business. When he was around 12 years old, his father had a stroke and became partially paralyzed. The family’s sole breadwinner could no longer work and the family experienced great financial hardship. Chen’s mother had to work to support the whole family and after finishing primary school, Chen also began working.
When Chen was 18 years old, his father passed away from illness, and mother and son had only each other to depend on. Through great hardship, his mother managed to send Chen to a special university in Australia to pursue a course in business management. After finishing his studies, Chen went back to Korea and found a job in the overseas marketingdepartment of an online games development company.
In November 1997, when Korea had a financial crisis, Chen’s company closed down and he lost his job.
Short Lived Success
Through his previous job, Chen had many friends and business associates who had helped him in overseas sales. At the young age of 30, he saw the potential profitability of online games and raised 3 billion KRW to set up a company to develop them. In less than six months, the company attracted more than a million users, becoming a leader in the South Korean online leisure games industry.
Chen capitalized on his success, quickly expanding his business and setting up branches in China, Taiwan and Japan. But because of careless investment decisions and the fact that the business model for online games was still in the beginning stages, within three to four years, the three billion KRW initial investmentwas nearly gone. In the end, Chen was left with only the branch in Taiwan.
In January 2002, Chen decided to move to Taiwan. But, upon arriving, he discovered that the branch there had accumulated massive amounts of debt. He had no choice but to dissolve it.
“At that time, I was in so much debt I could not sleep and my neck was so stiff I could not move it,” he recalls. “I went everywhere, seeking treatment from qigong masters but the symptoms kept coming back. I felt as if I was in a living hell.”
Stepping on the path of cultivation
In January 2003, Chen started his new company “Iwanzi” in Taiwan, using shares in the company to pay off debts. As the company’s proprietor, he often personally took customer calls after office hours, sometimes until as late as midnight. In 2006, the company’s performance took a turn for the better, and a year later, it started reaping profits.
It was around this time that Chen began practicing Falun Gong. His wife, a Korean of Chinese descent, is a Falun Gong practitioner. In 2003, she had given Chen a Chinese-language copy of ZhuanFalun, the practice’s main book of teachings. Chen read a few pages, but because of his weak Chinese reading ability, gave up and put the book in a drawer.
At the end of 2006, Chen went to Korea on a business trip. A consultant for his company was very interested in Falun Gong and wanted to buy a book about it. Chen went with him and bought a book to bring back to Taiwan. To his surprise, his wife told him he had gotten the wrong book. Nevertheless, he resolved to find a Falun Gong book to read.
He went onlneand downloaded the Korean language version of ZhuanFalun. Once he started reading it, he could not stop and went on to download other lectures. He read one after another. Then, he decided to try reading in Chinese. Within one or two months, Chen overcame his previous reading obstacle. He could read Chinese faster, and his understanding of the language was deepened. Those who knew him were all amazed. “How did your Chinese pronunciation get so good?” they asked. “It’s because I practice FalunDafa!” he replied.
“Master [Li] speaks in simple language but, in fact, his teachings have deep and profound meaning,” says Chen. “I have been deeply moved by the teachings.”
“I used to be an atheist. But, once I read them, I’ve never doubted what is taught in these books. I know everything Master [Li] says is true, and reading the books broadened my mind. Every time I study the Fa, my character changes and elevates. I now understand that I should be a kind person and that the meaning of one’s life is to return to one’s true origin.”
An unexpected bump in the road
Just as things were starting to go well for Chen’s company, in April 2007, a shareholder betrayed his trust and cheated Chen out of NT$60 million, throwing the company into a financial crisis. Chen explained the situation to his employees and left it to them to decide if they wanted to stay or leave. Those who opted to leave would receive severance pay. Several employees chose to stay and worked hard to revive the company.
Chen sacrificed his own wages to ensure that the employees who stayed on would not get a pay cut. Within a month, sales had doubled and the company overcame the crisis. Over the following year, sales grew seven times. Even the employees said this was a miracle! “Actually, we did not implement any special marketing strategies but sales just rapidly went up,” says Chen.
As for the shareholder responsible for the company’s misfortune, Chendecided to forgive him.
“I had been practicing Falun Gong for about five months at that time,” says Chen. “If not for the practice, I would have pursued the matter to the very end, bringing a lawsuit against him or even resorting to drastic measures to resolve the problem. At that time, however, my only thought was how to compassionately handle the financial crisis. I did not think too much of other matters. I sincerely wanted to try my best to do what I should do.”
Taking a turn for the better after reaching the extreme
Before practicing Falun Gong, Chen used to be very materialistic. He smoked, drank, and gambled. He was short tempered and kicked tables or threw his cell phone to vent his anger. He became physically and mentally drained and suffered from stomach and intestinal problems. His neck was stiff and he often had trouble moving it. These tribulations made him even more exhausted and he became even more easily worked up.
After practicing Falun Gong, his temperament improved. His physical discomfort and fatigue vanished. “I used to be rather assertive and disliked listening to other people’s opinions,” he says. “Since taking up Falun Gong, I strive to act in accordance with the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion and Forbearance. Now I feel physically and mentally fit.”
“Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance form the spiritual basis for my company,” he adds. “I ask my staff to treat one another with kindness and if they see a problem in someone, they should kindly point it out to them so that the other party has a chance to improve.”
At job interviews, he explains the spirit of the company to interviewees, “If they do something wrong, they will be given several chances, but if they keep making the same mistake, then they will be fired. I think this is an opportunity for young people to truly grow and mature. There is no rivalry between staff and the different departments. The company is stable and growth is maintained at a steady pace.”
Being in business, Chen often encounters situations testing his attachment to fame and gain. A shareholder who had invested a large sum in the company that went into liquidation in 2002 heard that Chen was going to make a comeback in Taiwan. He demanded compensation from Keren. When the company closed down, Chen compensated all the shareholders in accordance with the legal requirements. However, after practicing Falun Gong, he decided to offer further compensation to this shareholder from a moral perspective. But the shareholder was not satisfied and demanded a compensation equivalent to the value of his initial investment.
Chen said, “I struggled in my mind but then I thought, what’s yours is yours. If you are not meant to have it, then you won’t be able to take it away.” He decided to give one-third of his personal shares to this shareholder.
The shareholder was very happy with the way things worked out and all previous grievances he had were resolved. He learned that Chen practiced Falun Gong and seeing the changes in Chen, his own attitude changed for the better. He introduced Chen’s company to many friends and when the company increased its investment holdings, he also joined in as an investor. As a practitioner, Chen let go of his attachment to gain, yet he did not expect that this would benefit his company in the future.
“After practicing Falun Gong, I changed my habit of constantly worrying about this and that,” says Chen. “I give my staff sufficient authority and trust them to carry out their duties. So, nowadays, I seldom get involved in the mundane affairs of the company. On the contrary, the company’s performance is getting better and better. I spend my time clarifying the facts about [the persecution of Falun]Dafa [in China] to tourists at tourist attractions as well as [assisting] projects validating the beauty of [Falun] Dafa. I feel that I am leading a very enriching and meaningful life.”