Han Duk-soo visits Ocala.

Han Duk-soo visits Ocala.

Eleanor Hancock

South Korean Ambassador Visits Ocala

South Korean buyers were particularly active in 2010, spending $2.6 million at OBS.

By Mike Compton

Courtesy The Florida Horse

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, in partnership with Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce, Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Council and the College of Central Florida, hosted a visit March 29 for the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Han Duk-soo.

The Korean delegation visited the offices of the FTBOA and the sales facility at OBS before traveling to Tallahassee for meetings with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Gov. Rick Scott.

“We’re blessed with Korea’s interest in our horses here in Florida,” said Richard Hancock, executive vice president of the FTBOA. “Their involvement is particularly rewarding during these tough economic times. The bottom line in this business is that the horses they acquire here have to continue winning in South Korea for the buyers to keep coming back. I want to thank Tom Ventura, who traveled with us to Korea on our inaugural trade mission in 2003, and everyone at OBS for all their efforts.”

Buyers from South Korea have proved especially important to the success of OBS auctions in recent years. Their 2010 spending at OBS was almost $2.6 million on 137 head.

“FTBOA’s trade missions have certainly been successful in attracting buyers to our area and our sales,” said Ventura, general manager and director of sales at OBS. “And the buyers from Korea have been very important to our 2-year-old sales.”

Other members of the delegation included Jongho Kyun, secretary, Korean Embassy; Kyung Kyu Kim, Korean agriculture attaché, Korean Embassy; Chul Chung, chief economist, KITA; Leslie Schweitzer, senior trade adviser, U.S. Chamber; Stefanie Westerman, director for international policy, U.S. Chamber; Taylor Sholler, programs coordinator, U.S. Chamber; and Dana Gray, government relations, IBM.