Mr. Kim's factory is located just outside of Quing Dao. The name of his factory is La Mode and he specializes in making sweaters as well as other items of clothing. Because of the lack of communication between us, there was only so much that we could learn about his company. We do know that he as about fifty or more workers. After hearing about the poor quality of life and lack of pay for factory workers in China and the rest of Asia, Kim and I were not sure what to expect. Fortunately, nothing that we saw would leave us to believe that the workers are treated unfairly.
The entrance is gated so when ever Mr. Kim gets close, he honks his horn and a guard runs out to open up the gate. The Chinese, Korean, and La Mode flags are all displayed in front.
The picture below is the actual factory. There are machines going on all three floors.
Located on the premise was an apartment for the employees. I noticed younger kids running around so I assume that Mr. Kim allows his workers' families to live there also. I am not sure how many live there and how many commute. Like the rest of the city's population, everyone seems to own a motor bike.
During the factory's lunch break, the son of one of his employee's came up to visit her. He was about 2 years old and was with his grandma. Mr. Kim went up to the baby and smiled. He pulled some money out of his pocket and put it in the kid's hand. His worker tried to refuse the generosity, but Mr. Kim insisted.
I notice that two dogs live on the factory grounds. I do not know who they belong to and neither did SangKwun. I never saw anybody playing with them. I attempted to approach the dogs and pet them, but I was met with fierce growls and barks. Randomly, there were also two pet rabbits in a separate cage.
In the picture below, SangKwun is looking through different articles of clothing that the factory either produces or is planning to make in the future. I am not sure which.
The next three photos are from inside the factory. From what we gathered, the machines do most of the work by producing the material. Then, the workers collect them and sew them together by hand. We were told that the machines run 24 hours a day, while the employees only work during the daytime. The third photo gives you a sense off how big each floor is and I was only able to capture half of the area. I am not sure on average how long it takes the machine to produce one piece of clothing or what the output is per month. Maybe someday in the future if my Korean gets better I can ask.
We were told that the machines used were designed by Mr. Kim. When SangKwun first told us about this, I thought we were probably misunderstanding his English. When we looked closer, the name on the machine is K&C, which we think would be too big of a coincidence. I wonder if he plans on selling the design to other factories?
It is always nice seeing the "Kims" together. We are so busy with teaching at Poly, I sometimes forget why we decided to make the trip over here in the first place. I think that the time with we got to spend with Kim's Korean family was much needed.
The next morning, Kim, SangKwun, and I caught a 8:00 AM flight to Guangzho. Though brief, our stay in Quing Dao was very nice and relaxing. I wanted to end the post with a quick story about the hotel Kim and I stayed at during our visit. SangKwun informed me that the owner of the hotel runs the local mob. He has his hands in all types of illegal businesses including prostitution and gambling. Despite the questionable character of its owner, Mr. Kim claimed that it was the nicest hotel in the area. Our next post will highlight some of the different food that Kim and I experienced.