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Spreading hydrogen energy in Korea

In 2016, Somie Kim took on a new role as Head of the Hydrogen Energy activity in South Korea. Her mission: "to change the face of the Korean automotive industry through the deployment of hydrogen stations." Since then, she has been working in partnership with Hyundai and represents Air Liquide in a public-private consortium dedicated to this matter.

Could you tell us a few words about your mission to develop hydrogen mobility in Korea?

My objective is to expand the hydrogen mobility market, contribute to developing hydrogen in the automotive market, and spread it as an alternative in other energy sectors. Korea is a high potential country, thanks to the presence of Hyundai (the fifth global carmaker) in particular and the government's strong interest. Both are looking for new growth drivers and sustainable energy sources.

In this context, what are Korea's distinctive characteristics?

In Korea, meeting the goal of reducing CO2 emissions and fine dust is both an economic and a public health challenge. If hydrogen proves to be successful in the mobility area, its expansion into other energy sectors would be much easier and faster! As a reminder, Korea was the fifth largest energy consumer in the world in 2016. More than 95% of energy resources are imported and ensuring stable long-term supply is essential. But things are already changing: at the beginning of 2018, the Government announced the deployment of 310 hydrogen stations by 2022.

Korea is a high potential country

How does your mission illustrate the pioneering spirit that sets Air Liquide apart?

For me, being a pioneer is having the courage to persevere in the face of a failure. I believe that the pioneering spirit is an indispensable factor for a Group like Air Liquide to grow. Not every attempt to develop a new business will be successful. However, regardless of the potential for difficulty and failure, Air Liquide and its employees must continue seeking new areas of business to generate growth and maintain a leadership position in the markets where it operates.

In your opinion, how does your activity contribute to change the Group and the world we live in?

A group like Air Liquide must step up its efforts to develop new businesses and contribute to a positive transformation. This is what I am trying to accomplish at my own level. There is a fitting proverb in Korea: if people want to make the world peaceful, they should cultivate themselves first, look after their family and then they will be able govern the country properly. I think it’s like a ripple effect. Likewise, if I do my job and carry out my project with passion, by learning and collaborating every day, then I will contribute to the success of my team, and to Air Liquide, Korea and eventually the world we live in.

This interview is part of a series of five interviews with pioneering Air Liquide employees who are helping to move the Group forward and build the world of the future.

Article published on January 30, 2019