Kang Tae Sun is not only the owner of BLACKYAK he may also be one of its best costumers. Being an avid climber he has been to the Himalayas several times to climb some of the world’s tallest mountains. Photo courtesy BLACKYAK
For Kang Tae Sun, climbing and business are the same; they are means of survival. For one of Jeju’s most successful businessmen, Kang’s vision started in 1973 with the opening of the first store of its kind. Today, Black Yak is one of the leading climbing and mountaineering clothing companies in Asia.
A native of Jeju, Kang attended Ohyun High School and graduated from Tamna University in Seogwipo. With roots embedded deep in Jeju’s nature, Kang began climbing on the island forty years ago. It was his inspiration for the company. Black Yak began making exclusive outdoor equipment and clothing designed by mountaineers for climbers.
Kang, a Masters of Business Administration graduate from Dongguk University in Seoul, is more than a mere businessman; he is also a known philanthropist. Kang’s company philosophy is to “help out those who need help, especially climbers.” Black Yak sponsors many charity events, as well as most recently Korean climber Oh Eun Sun. Oh was the first woman to climb 13 of the world’s 14 highest peaks and was recognized globally for her success.
Being a climber himself, Kang has been to the Himalayas as a leader several times. One of his accomplishments is reaching the Cho Oyu Mt. Cho Oyu Mt. is located 20 kilometers west of Mount Everest, bordering China and Nepal. Its Mt. ranks as the sixth highest in the world, standing at 8,201 meters. Kang’s climbing expeditions inspired him to write his book, “The Mt. is in My Heart.” He believes that everyone has a mountain and it is not related to education or physical geography, but it is the goal within the heart. It is the value in pursuing one’s ultimate goals, without ever giving up. According to Kang, without challenge there is no value in life.
Song Min (second from the right) accomplishes one of his life goals that he thought would never be achieved due to being physically disabled. He stands atop a Himalayan mountain after climbing 4000 meters with friend and BLACKYAK founder, Kang Tae Sun (far left). Photo courtesy BLACKYAK
The philanthropist businessman often sponsors outdoor charity events, especially for children with physical disabilities. One of his events was attended by 300 disabled children and 600 staff. A young boy who participated in the camping event had a request Kang could not refuse. Song Min wanted to climb the Himalayas. Kang trained the 17-year old amputee for a year and then helped Song reach his ultimate goal. Song’s life changed after he reached 4,000 meters; he had reached the peak in his heart.
As an explorer, Kang feels ultimate contentment when he climbs. Over the years, he has learned the true value and meaning of life through the mountains. So much so, that he always encourages young people to climb.
Black Yak, a name Kang came up with after seeing a black yak carry a load for a sherpa in the Himalayas, is a household name in Korea and China. The company has expanded its Asian market, opening stores in Beijing. This year, Kang’s focusing on business competitiveness. He recently hired a brand consultant, Danabe Hidenori, to improve and expand the company name. With several lines developing, and the production of new outerwear, the company is now emphasizing on fashion and marketing. On local television and radio stations in Jeju and across the country, Black Yak advertisements are on regular rotation. The multi-million dollar company continues to diversify and grow and Kang hopes to expand globally in the near future.
As he continues to broaden the company, Kang always has time to maintain his relationship with his home, Jeju. After visiting over 100 countries, he has realized that the beauty and potential of Jeju is beyond imagination, and hopes to promote the island globally.
Black Yak is located in Jeju-Si near Si Cheung on the CGV Theatre block. The company’s website offers online shopping (in Korean). Visit it at http://www.blackyak.co.kr.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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