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Korean networking: No clubbing during downturn, please


"More business is done here in the sauna after a good round of golf than is ever done in meeting rooms," says a senior manager at a top investment bank in Seoul, perhaps a touch wistfully, when Euromoney’s correspondent asks for advice on networking on a recent visit to Korea.

But those halcyon days of golf, sweat and handshakes could be over, or at least put on hold as long as the economic downturn in Korea lasts. An official at the president’s residence in Seoul was quoted this month as saying that government officials ought to lay down their clubs for the time being, since overt golfing could be seen to be insensitive during times of financial hardship.

"Golf is not bad but... as prices are unstable and the economic situation is not getting better, president Lee thinks they need to consider public sentiment," said the official according to a local news agency.

Other more pernicious habits might be springing up in depressed Asian financial hubs: "I didn’t know you smoked," said one asset manager to another during a recent convivial gathering in Tokyo. "Only in a prolonged bear market," came the somewhat morose reply.

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