Ep. 7 – John Lee on running a convenience store, what it means to be ‘Korean Korean’, and cutting taxes

John Lee is a former gyopo who was born and raised in Brunei and spent his college years in the United States. He is a small business owner who runs his own convenience store. When he has time, he is also a freelance columnist and a blogger. You can follow his columns at NK News (nknews.org) and his blog at The Korean Foreigner (thekoreanforeigner.blogspot.com)

Show Notes

01:15               how to open a convenience store in Korea

03:58               different types of convenience stores

05:05               dealing with corporate

07:14               why so many convenience stores in Seoul

09:50               most important thing about running a convenience store

10:38               difference between imported and domestic products

12:46               on zoning and regulation

16:30               what’s the first thing John notices about other convenience stores

17:49               what does WithMe do very well?

20:09               how convenience stores make the most money

23:00               how convenience stores keep their locations stocked

25:40               surprising things about running a convenience store

26:52               on crime

28:30               staying competitive

30:18               mom and pop stores vs. corporate convenience stores

32:26               growing up in Brunei

35:10               Korean community in Brunei

42:09               on speaking Malay and Korean

45:30               viewing Korea from afar

47:09               acclimating to life in Wisconsin

50:00               where is home

52:50               serving in Korean military without Korean language skills

56:30               how ROK army accommodates non-Korean speakers

59:40               acclimating to Korean life

01:01:04          on politics and small business regulation

01:06:31          what policy would be most helpful to convenience stores

01:08:15          on missing Brunei

01:08:56          what John buys at a convenience store

01:09:11          worst part of living in Seoul

01:09:32          best part of living in Seoul

01:09:46          is a hotdog a sandwich?

01:10:15          what business would you open in South Korea?

01:10:53          would you recommend opening up your own convenience store?

01:11:09          advice to Koreans living abroad who want to return

People, Places, Things Mentioned on the Show

Ask A Korean (blog)


Brunei independence

Conscription in South Korea

CU (씨유)

Daejeon Expo ’93 (대전엑스포 ’93)

Dangogae ()

Financial crisis of 2007-2008


H.O.T. (에이치오티)

Haitai Calbee

Honey butter chips (허니버터칩)


Korean diaspora

Korean fried chicken (치맥)


Minimum wage in South Korea

Moon Jae-in

Radio Television Brunei


Solid (솔리드)

South Korea in the Vietnam War

Triangle kimbab (삼각김밥)

University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

With Me (위드미편의점)