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McDonald's Korea Set to Expand

McDonald’s Moves on Korea

McDonald's Korea Set to Expand

The Ronald McDonald invasion continues as the fast food icon’s familiar face will become easier to spot around Korea as McDonald's Korea is set for a major expansion — both in number of restaurants and around the peninsula’s waistline.

With nearly $500 million in the next five years, McDonald's hopes to boost the number of outlets here to 500 by 2015. Zoning codes permitting, they also hope that 80% of the new stores will have a drive-thru. Currently, there are 233 of Ray Kroc’s golden arches around the country.

After enjoying two-digit growth for five consecutive years, the restaurant giant has its sights on cutting into home grown Lotteria’s industry leading profit line. Lotteria runs about 900 stores across the country, as well as extending its franchise to Taiwan, Japan, China and most recently, Indonesia.

McDonald’s Korea Managing Director Sean Newton, told a press conference last week, “When you compare Korea to our other markets, you can see that we have a lot of opportunity here. Our penetration so far is less than one-third of our other markets.’’

McDonald's has recently been cashing in on its innovations ahead of the rest of the market, such as becoming the first 24-hour fast food delivery franchise in Korea — and they have English phone service, too. (1600-5252)

And in the fashion of America’s car culture, they plan to open some of their restaurants in rest areas, as well as gas stations around the country.

Like many foreign businesses trying to get a foothold in Korea, they have a competitive disadvantage in number of locations, but their efficient business model puts their profit margins among the top domestic players regardless. The expansion is sure to force homegrown franchises to strengthen their offerings.

Tough year to get a Kim Jong-il birthday present
As reported by the Associated Press last week, it was a tough year to be invited to Kim Jong-il’s 69th birthday party.

In past years, the elite have received gifts ranging from rice to Rolexes, and according to an ex-soldier, houses, Mercedes-Benzes, Audis, Toyotas, and other luxury goods were doled out to important officials.

It appears this year, however, times are tough. With new sanctions, a cold winter and foot-and-mouth disease spreading across the country, North Korean officials have been buying fake goods, including fake Armani and Gucci suits to handout from Beijing’s Silk Market.

The North is preparing and stockpiling for next year’s triumphant 2012, the centennial of the birth of Kim's father, Kim Il Sung.

Korea’s 2011 F1 Race Again in Turmoil

Rumors are gaining steam in the Korean media about the possible cancellation of this year’s F1 race, at the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam, South Jeolla Province, which is scheduled for November.

Mounting financial problems, as well as internal firings of key figures has led to speculation that the race may be cancelled. Last year, the race lost 40 billion won, though they had projected a 7 billion won profit.

Though last year’s event was eventually staged after much worry over the lack of preparations, an F3 event scheduled weeks later was cancelled because of money problems and issues with the track.

Though the Korea Grand Prix somehow won the trophy for best promoter at the 2010 FIA Prize Giving Gala, they suffered massive embarrassment by the international press by putting them up in rather “unpleasant” accommodations.

Busan I’Park Schedule is Released

For football fans (or soccer fans to the North Americans), the Busan I’Park return to the pitch March 6th, in an away game in Jeju. Their first home game will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 13th versus Sangju.

Coached by Ahn Ik-soo, they are led by Brazilian Felipe Azevedo. Last season, the I’Park finished tied for eighth place in the K League with 8 wins, 11 losses and 9 draws.

The I’Park play 30 games over the season, which runs until November. Games for the I’Park are played at the 53,769 seat Busan Asiad Stadium in Sajik-dong.

The four-times champion I’Park are looking to win their first championship since 1997, when they were known as the Busan Daewoo Royals.

You can check out Busan Haps I'Park Page with schedule, standings and updates when the season kicks off, here

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About Jeff Liebsch

Jeff Liebsch has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Eurobasket, Tribal Football and Yonhap News. He can be followed on Twitter at @chevybusan.

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