Korea’s Dong Seon Kim’s Goals in Wellington Beyond Bohemian, Rossetti
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar 21, 2023–When Dong Seon “Peter” Kim came to the Global Dressage Festival it was with more than two horses that were among the best in the world but also with an ambitious plan to grow a boutique dressage development and sales business in Wellington to partner with his German stable.
Newly appointed as executive director for future strategy of the hotel and resorts and department store businesses in the Hanwha Group controlled by his father, Peter wants to expand beyond South Korea to Wellington, the South Florida community that he describes as a “beautiful place” compared with anywhere in the world.
“Peter” as Kim is known in America, bought Bohemian, now with the prefix Galleria’s for his stables. Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour developed the horse from 2017 to ride at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2021 European Championships where the partnership led Denmark to team bronze as well as individual bronze and Freestyle silver medals. Galleria’s Bohemian competed in Wellington as a 13-year-old Westfalen gelding to place in the top three in three of the four starts for the partnership.
Rossetti, now also with the prefix Galleria’s, a Danish Warmblood gelding was bought by Peter at the beginning of this year at the age of 15. Henri Ruoste of Finland competed Rossetti at the 2019 Europeans.
Peter Kim is the youngest of three sons of Kim Seung-youn, chairman of Hanwha Group, one of top 10 companies in South Korea. His two brothers operate the chemical and financial divisions of the group.
However, he has spent much of his life in the United States, including Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Although he tried low-level jumping in Wellington, he quickly focused on dressage, riding out of a barn in Vermont to compete through New England while he was at Dartmouth. He competed in his first international Grand Prix at Wellington in 2008.
He rode Bukowski, a Swedish Warmblood gelding bought from Anders Dahl, a Dane based in England, at the World Cup Final in 2014 as well as the World Equestrian Games in both Normandy in 2014 and Tryon in 2018 as well as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He rode the former U.S.-owned Belstaff at the Tokyo Games.
Why acquire some of the world’s top dressage horses?
“I’m only an amateur rider,” Peter said, “not a professional. They ride 12 horses a day, just breathing and thinking horses. I’d love to at one particular show where I might be lucky and able to do that but to consistently ride like a professional is unrealistic. I don’t even want that. I’ve got a business to run.”
He’s serious enough, though, that when living in Germany for three years he trained with Hubertus Schmidt.
He set up the Sportpferde Galleria stable about 18 months ago of 40 stalls near Dusseldorf with 35 horses in training for sale. Other horses are with German team rider Helen Langehanenberg and Holland’s Diederick van Silfhout.
“We want to do a boutique sales business,” he explained, “just top quality Grand Prix horses, buying them when they’re young and not selling them until they are FEI (international) level–good quality and rideability. We want to do a maximum of 50 to 80 horses at one time, keeping a select few, really boutique. We want to spread the image our company as where the best horses are, not in terms of numbers but quality.”
He has a team searching for top horses, some off the beaten path in countries like Belarus where few dealers go.
“I think if you search hard enough and have a team that’s willing to do that you might not get 50 or 60 top horses but every year manage to find three or four. If we don’t want to buy horses we don’t like the quality we don’t have to.”
The idea is not to compete against the big horse dealing businesses that, he said, oftentimes have to buy prospects because they need volume–“I don’t want to do it that; I want to do it very small and good horses and give time for the riders to really develop the horses.”
Horses are his hobby, an amateur riding only up to three horses a day, and a break from business.
The Wellington area has horses, golf, shopping, lifestyle and climate that makes him comfortable.
“I want to do a lot of things here,” he said. “I want to have a stable here. Do some real estate business as well as interested in the restaurant business, perhaps quality Asian foods.” And to live here with his wife for months each year and have his son go to school in Wellington.
Peter laughs when asked whether he wants to be an Olympic gold medalist.
“Of course I do,” he responded. “I would like to be just a medalist before I die.
“But a more important goal I want is to have trained one horse to international Grand Prix. I want to continue to train young horses by myself. That’s where it’s the most fun. It’s fun buying these super nice horses from top riders and riding them in here, but it’s more fun when you have a nice young horse that you click with really well and you can train it up the levels.
“Bring them here, show them. That’s a goal, something I always want to do. If that one could be an Olympic horse that would be even better. It would be much more rewarding.”
And having lived in America for a long time, he’s admired the New England Dressage Association master classes where riders like Carl Hester and Hubertus Schmidt participated.
“One of my real goals before I die is to be a clinician there,” he said. “That would be amazing for me. To do that I really need a lot of horses to show the dressage world that I trained these horses by myself. I think it’s very possible.”