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SEOUL-Although Goldstar Co. is the leading marketer of refrigerators in South Korea, its customers were unhappy.

A series of ongoing surveys indicated that Koreans wanted a better way to preserve kimchi, a traditional appetizer or side dish of spicy pickled cabbage generally eaten with rice.

Housewives traditionally stored kimchi in special pots buried underground to maintain a certain temperature, but as more and more families live in high rise apartment buildings, preservation of kimchi at the correct temperature levels, which affects the taste, has become more difficult.

Enter Cheol-Hoo Jeong, 37, general manager of Goldstar's refrigerator domestic marketing department.

With research in hand, he and a team with representatives from planning, design and operations came up with the idea of the Goldstar Kimjangkok (meaning kimchi pot). The refrigerator contains a special compartment replicating the features of a traditional kimchi pot, including a separate temperature control.

Introduced in January 1993, the refrigerator has been such a hit that half of Goldstar's total sales of 823,000 units are now the Kimjangkok model. (Goldstar holds about 47% of the market.)

"Consumers can enjoy kimchi in any form-raw, hot, sour, very sour, according to their taste," Mr. Jeong says. Customers can now make the right tasting kimchi overnight instead of waiting three or four days until it is properly pickled, he added, noting it's important not just to preserve kimchi but to maintain the right taste.

The refrigerator offered such a desired benefit that Mr. Jeong had an easy marketing job, but he went ahead with a full-fledged $4.8 million marketing program.

Prior to the refrigerator's introduction he distributed five-minute video tapes to Goldstar dealers and rented hotel rooms to give seminars to these dealers as well as consumers.

Because of the important role of the housewife, Mr. Jeong and his staffers went door-to-door distributing 6,000 brochures, called "Sales Point." Inside was information about the refrigerator, its price and special features, including the kimchi compartment and recipes.

Advertising that broke in January 1993 ran on TV and in major dailies. The ads, created by LG Ad, carried the theme, "The most Koreanized refrigerator is the most international."

The TV spot featured well-known actress Won Mi-Kyong, who walks out and shouts, "Like to buy a kimchi pot?" in the manner in which traditional kimchi pots were hawked on the streets. Back in her kitchen, she takes some kimchi from her refrigerator, and her expression shows how delicious it is.

Mr. Jeong is proud of his accomplishments, but he says it's the teamwork that's his biggest reward. "That's where I find the joy of marketing," he says.

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