Banner design by Helena, portrait by Eva


Monday, July 30, 2007

Conversations with Koreans

The more people I meet abroad, the less interesting my life story seems. But don't worry, I'm inspired!

Last Saturday a new student entered in my adult class. He was fresh from mountain climbing in Nepal. He has worked for volunteer organizations in South Africa (Cape Town) and Scotland, making milk and cheese on farms to feed the disabled. He has been on business trips to London England, Paris France, he once meditated with Tibetan monks.

Life is what you make it. Anyway, I want to digress. Talk of traveling and life's opportunities lead to a discussion about the workforce in Korea.

One of my adult students has worked 15 years at Korea Electric Power Corporation. My friend Hwan, an engineer in the making, said it's one of those jobs that's impossible to get; a dream job with security, benefits, big money and high profile projects. He did the planning for KTX and Seoul's Inchon airport.

In Korea, it's important to secure a job at a major company. Men are always name dropping. "I work for Samsung." "Yeah well I work for ...." It's important to hold a job for an extended period of time because the hierarchy of respect in the Korean workforce pertains to length of job holding. Age, usually the meter of etiquette in Korea, doesn't play much of a role.

Having a variety of experiences is more important in the West than it is here. 3 jobs that showcase a diverse skill set isn't as good as 10 years with your necktie caught in Samsung's conveyor belt.


Yoo-yong said...

yeah having recently arrived in korea from sydney, it's something that i've noticed - people tell me who they work for and then pause waiting for the "wow really?" that never comes but then i don't think they get my "i'm not my job philosophy"

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...

Exactly Yoo-Yong, hahaha.

Lan-Anh said...

Really? That's too funny. Something I haven't noticed yet but then again I have not had the opportunity to spend more time in Korea like you do. I have been to Seoul 3 times for business and I have started to learn the language. I truly respect and cherish the Korean culture alot.

By the way Eva. Eastcoastlife has tagged me so I thought I would tag you. Read my latest post.


MUD said...

There is less and less of a corporate job attitude in the USA. My dad worked for Beech Aircraft (now Raytheon) and I spent 30 years in the Military. The average job span is now closer to 5 years and you had better be saving for your own retirement. MUD

Eva Karrin McKinnon said...


Okay, I'll be sure to do it. Looks like fun.


I am, I already have a fund. Unfortunately that is sound and sobering advice! Also you're right about the corporate job attitude.

WangKon936 said...

You have to remember that Korea is a recently developed country so it's corporate culture is similar to what it was in the U.S. back in the 50's and 60's. Remember, IBM or Big Blue was omnipresent in American corporate life just as much so as Samsung is today in Korea.

I noticed you are a fellow Nikonian!

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