by Dr. Iain
Kim Schnyder is a director in the Casa Pascal fine
dining restaurant. She is a small Asian woman, but is one who has managed
to rise well above traditional Asian concepts to follow her own dream as a
Kim was born in Korea, in the capital Seoul, a country
of some 45 million people, with seemingly 50% of the inhabitants having
the surname ‘Kim’. Kim Schnyder is no different, with Kim being her
previous family name, and only taking it as her nickname after she married
Her father was a very successful Korean businessman,
while her mother was the traditional Korean housewife who stayed at home
to look after Kim and her two sisters and brother.
At school, Kim excelled. "I was always at the top.
I am still proud of that," she said. She nurtured the hope of
becoming a teacher, a field of endeavour that received the approval of
both parents. However, this ambition was thwarted when her father
developed cancer and died, while Kim was still a teenager. Family fortunes
and family finances reached such a low ebb that university dreams after
high school had to be put aside. Despite the loss of the father figure,
there was one teacher who was to instil some ‘fatherly’ advice for Kim
and that was just to never give up on your dreams. "This teacher was
my spiritual supporter," she said.
Security was the need, and Kim joined a bank, the
bastion of security throughout the world. But Kim did not stop there - she
had further dreams to be followed, and she enrolled at university, doing a
four year course in International Business, while at the same time working
for the bank.
Working and studying day and night leaves little time
for boyfriends, and by the time she was 25 and still unmarried, her family
began to get worried. This was still a country of matchmakers and arranged
marriages, and much pressure was brought to bear on the young Kim.
"There were not so many opportunities for young women in business in
Korea, so I began looking for something else, as I wanted to further my
That ‘something else’ was to be an advert for a
hotel management school in Switzerland. Despite the lack of maternal
approval (mother wanted her to find a man and settle down), she went to
Switzerland for the three year course. The decision was not easy to make,
and the work was not easy either - tuition was in English, a language in
which she was not fluent at all. "I had to work at 150% of the
others. I would wake up at 4 a.m. to study my English, while the others
woke at 7 a.m."
During practical experience in her first year she also
had a chance meeting with a young Swiss chef, Pascal Schnyder, who turned
out to be an adopted Korean orphan. He noticed the young Asian woman and
asked if perhaps she were Japanese! She had been told that the young chef
came from Korea, so she replied in Korean, a language Pascal could not
understand at all.
From that unlikely beginning, Kim and Pascal’s
romance slowly grew, culminating in their marriage in Switzerland during
Kim’s last year of her management course. A traditional wedding in Korea
was also on the agenda, so Kim took six months deferment and took her
non-Korean speaking ‘Swiss -Korean’ husband to the land of his birth
for their second wedding and a honeymoon through Asia.
When Pascal was offered a job in Hong Kong, while they
were travelling, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and Pascal
returned to the kitchen life. However, Kim still wanted to finish her
training and she returned to Switzerland to complete her deferred course,
which she did successfully, and then rejoined her husband in Hong Kong.
Hotel offers came her way, but the offer that
interested her most was the post as administrator with a Korean
international school. She was not teaching as per her teenage ambition,
"It was very challenging and it was close to teaching."
After two years, they returned to Korea, ostensibly for
Pascal to understand more about his own culture and to learn the language,
so he could speak to his in-laws! Kim knew the language so looked around
for jobs that would satisfy her own career development, turning down a
well-paid job with Intel to take a posting with a Korean investment bank,
an enterprise that she still works for today, her work requiring her to
travel to Hong Kong, Korea and Europe, becoming involved with
multi-million dollar bond issue deals.
While this sounds like a dream of a job, Kim still had
an unfinished dream, and that was to open a restaurant. Husband Pascal
shared that dream, and the end result was Casa Pascal here in Pattaya, a
country that they both enjoyed, having been here on holidays, and Pascal
working here in a 5 star hotel.
With studying, working, travelling and giving birth to
a new restaurant, Kim has not had the time for having her own family, and
will probably not have any children, despite her mother’s exhortations
to do so, in the traditional Korean mould.
Previously she was a very sporty girl, enjoying
bowling, table tennis and athletics, but these days, after the restaurant
and the investment bank travelling requiring her to be away for weeks at a
time, there is no time for the active hobbies.
Kim Schnyder is definitely a woman who has kept her focus on her career
and where she is going in life and has been called upon by young Korean
girls for advice. Her counsel is simple: "Know what you want to be -
just don’t follow others; and work to make it happen - don’t just
dream about it. Life is not a movie. You have to study, work and put in
the effort." Kim has done just that, and continues to do so. Very