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Akli Hadid States the [Painfully] Obvious

In a very nice editorial submitted to JoongAng Daily, former English teacher and Kyung Hee University student Akli Hadid states the obvious fact that Korea, Inc. underutilizes English speaking skills within its borders by over relying on locals with “questionable” English language capabilities and psychologically beating forcing many native English speakers to merely be glorified translators and proof readers.  The potential costs?  The lack of important perspective and creativity, and thus a big, giant gaping hole of an abyss lack of global Internet, media and business service companies in Korea, Inc.’s portfolio of world class businesses.

Google, Facebook or Avast could have been Korean companies. After all, Korea has all it takes to create giant multi-billion dollar Internet companies. It has high speed Internet connection, excellent connectivity rates and an educated and talented workforce.

[...]

Why don’t Korean Internet companies try to set a global vision? After all, such Internet companies refuse to hire foreign staff, are not attentive to foreigner’s suggestions for improvement and eye an exclusively Korean market.

[...]

Some expat scientists and engineers hired by Korean companies end up proofreading documents and typing e-mails instead of doing research and participating in the innovation process. Koreans should cultivate western minds by taking advantage of their creative skills, rather than simply viewing them as a linguistic asset.

Speaking of foreigners and creativity, I like what Peter Schreyer (formally with Audi) is doing with Kia’s car designs.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Speaking of foreigners and creativity, I like what Peter Schreyer (formally with Audi) is doing with Kia’s car designs.

    Well, let’s see how long Schreyer lasts before he he quits in disgust after discovering that he has no real authority to lead/drive the Kia design process and that his real job is to bring Korean deisgn to “world class” status by the oxymoronic means of following the orders of his know-nothing Korean superiors and coddling the fragile egos of his ostensible Korean juniors to comport with the “Korean way”.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Sperwer,

    I think it helps that Pete usually manages from Frankfurt. If he was in Seoul more often, I think he would be, ahem, a lot more frustrated.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936
  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    WK: I guess THAT will make it easier to rest content with his pay package and occasional trips to room salon central. ;)

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Talent is expensive… ;)

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Think he returns the favor and takes his boys to the Hessian and North Rhine Westphalian FKKs when they visit?

  • Rambutan

    Facebook could have been Korean.
    Truly a wrong turn for civilization. Everyone on FB would have had a “mini-hompy” to decorate.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Well, I wouldn’t put it beyond an ajooshi type to try out a German nudist colony… but it’s hard to imagine.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Ah, you don’t know what FKK really means nowadays.

  • cmm

    If I recall, Cyworld TRIED to go global in I believe English, Chinese, and Japanese (although a bit late), but that didn’t go to well. It was discussed somewhere in the MH’s past. If you dig the post up, I recall that there are some entertaining predictions from ihbb.

  • seouldout

    Korea’s Saehan had one of the first portable mp3 players too, didn’t it? Would an intrusion of the foreigner given it the ipod? Singapore’s Creative NOMAD had command of the portable mp3 player market, but now it doesn’t. Did Sony need the foreigner to think up the Walkman?

  • seouldout
  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Did Sony need the foreigner to think up the Walkman?

    No; so what; we’re not talking about general laws of nature here, but socio-culturally specific dominant predispositions.

  • cmm

    This doesn’t just apply to under-utilization of foreigners’ English skills. If someone wants to talk about Korean companies severely underutilizing the talent of the foreigners whom they employ, just give me a call. Or give almost any of my highly educated and capable foreign coworkers a call. Reserve plenty of time for the call.

    I should say though to be fair, it isn’t/hasn’t always the case. When I joined the company, my talents and competencies were utilized much much more than now.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Ditto.

  • Minjokjuuija

    What are “a global vision” and “world class businesses” and why does Korea need them?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    I dunno. Ask a Korean company; they are the one’s trumpeting these phrases all the time.

  • Minjokjuuija

    they are the one’s trumpeting these phrases all the time.

    That’s a good point.

  • aaronm

    What are “a global vision” and “world class businesses” and why does Korea need them?

    1. The ability to adapt to different cultural aspects of the world market and provide service accordingly.

    2. To sell shit.

    Next.

  • Minjokjuuija

    1. The ability to adapt to different cultural aspects of the world market and provide service accordingly.

    2. To sell shit.

    Next.

    Well currently no Korean companies have “a global vision” and “world class businesses.” So will they not be able to sell anything in the future unless they quickly acquire “a global vision” and “world class businesses”?

  • YBT199

    Lotte’s first overseas shop has bombed out very nicely for certain cultural reasons. Here’s a nice quote from the head of Lotte Russia:

    Even the head of Lotte Russia admitted that this cultural difference was tough to overcome. “It took months to train Russian sales staff to bow their heads to customers,” said Kim Sun-kwang in a recent media interview.

    What a surprise!

    A merchandiser for one of the tenant businesses in Lotte explained that Russian shoppers are traditionally used to fancy buildings and a laid back atmosphere, so they don’t feel comfortable in Lotte’s “extremely simple structure, in which they are constantly followed by excessively polite sales staff.”

    “We did thorough market research and we’re planning to keep consistent with our `Korean-style’ shopping center scheme,” said Lim Hyung-wok, a Lotte spokesman, who added that this agenda is at the core of the company’s expansion.

    Extensive market research to build something that jars with Russian sensibilities?

    Global vision?

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2009/10/123_27333.html

  • Granfalloon

    My only inside experience with Korean management comes from Korean universities. And I can say this: for a people who supposedly place a high value on advanced degrees from respected overseas universities, Koreans sure don’t seem to give much of a fuck about what people holding said degrees have to say.

  • non korean

    I know and talk to a lot of engineers. These guys are given loads of money to complete very technical projects. I’ve heard dozens of crazy stories about Koreans not listening to the very experts they hired to do the very technical job they could not do. Often they do it the Korean way, it doesn’t work, and then they do it the foreigner’s way. I’ve heard this story time and time again.

    I think there is a very deep unconscious distrust of foreigners in general. I don’t know how many times I’ve told my wife something, she doesn’t quite believe it. She then asks a Korean, they tell her it is true, and then everything is right in her mind. But if another foreign friend told her, she would still be skeptical. I also know many Koreans in America who don’t listen to traditional authority/expert figures who happen to be non-Koreans. But they believe their Korean friend with no knowledge or experience about the matter at hand. I find this very interesting. I don’t think it will go away anytime soon. It’s too deeply engrained.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    non korean,

    One thing I would say is that a lot of gyopos who have worked for a Korean company in American (be it a big conglomerate like LG, Samsung, Korean Air or a smaller company) come away with similar stories. Every time I ask one of my Americanized (or Westernized) gyopo friends of how was their stint at a Korean company I invariably get… “I’ll never work for a Korean again [if I have the choice].”

    However, having said that, it appears that foreign talent does better if they work outside of the corporate headquarters in Korea. Previously mentioned Peter Schreyer, who works out of Frankfurt, come to mind as well as Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik, who works out of Orange County, CA, also comes to mind.

    Also, Japanese engineers appear to do well in Korean companies. The rapid rise of LG and Samsung can partially be attributed by both companies’ ability to recruit and hire Japanese engineering talent away from Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc. It is my suspicion that Japanese engineers are probably better prepared for the Confucian ethos, pathos and logos that are pervasive in Korean companies than the typical foreigner.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    cmm and seouldout,

    I also didn’t think Cyworld USA had a chance:

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2008/09/25/cyworld-getting-punkd-by-myspace-and-facebook/

  • Jieun K

    Could a language barrier be a factor working to the disadvantage of foreign professionals in Korean business organizations when it comes to adding persuasive power to their say in important decision-making?

  • PineForest

    Well, this sounds like a piece of real western whining to me… or maybe you could say gloating. With Korean workers and managers being so helplessly thickheaded and unable to communicate across cultural boundaries, I’m afraid all Korea will be left with is dominance in steel, shipbuilding, semiconductors, cell phones, LCDs, a wide array of consumer electronics, and, increasingly, autos. What a bunch of losers! Hey, let’s all get together in Detroit and talk some more shit about those stupid Koreans.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    The problem here is that dominance in steel, shipbuilding, semiconductors, cell phones, LCDs, a wide array of consumer electronics, and autos may only get Korea to per capita GDP of $20-25k, which isn’t where they said they want to be, which is $35-40k per capita GDP.

    In order to get to the next tier more business service and media companies may be necessary.

  • robert neff

    #14 Cmm,

    Surprisingly, the more I look back at the early Joseon efforts at modernization the more I see what you described in your post.

  • tinyflowers

    That was a horrible article. Ask google and facebook how they’re doing in China… or Korea or Japan for that matter…

  • PineForest

    Wangkon, I see what you’re saying. But I still say the point stands that Korea Inc. has a powerful track record of succeeding and succeeding big in multiple foreign markets, in multiple industries.

    I guess my first response was a tad emotional. That’s because I see so many areas where American industry is just woefully incapable of adapting and succeeding in foreign markets. So many American are still monolingual. Anecdotes I ‘ve heard in the last few years about the auto industry from a friend who lived and worked on the GM contract for a top 5 IT vendor shocked me. He described real myopia mixed with arrogance.

    And if Korean firms need to get over the negatives of their culture as described in this debate, American firms are characterized on the whole with stunning officer-level greed and short-sightedness. Management arrogance for and contempt toward workers in the US is terrible. I could go on. We have a lot of housecleaning to do, no question.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    PineForest,

    It has always been my belief that the East and West can learn a lot from each other. If one was to take an economy that’s in Hong Kong and Singapore (both of which are what I would call hybrid East/West city state type systems) and multiply that out to a country that’s the size of a real nation state with a population of 50-100 million people, then that would be a formidable country indeed, economically speaking.

  • Ut videam

    tinyflowers, in re Facebook’s performance in Korea:

    Facebook has more than doubled its Korean user base within the last six months. I can attest to this anecdotally: based on friend requests, a ton of my Korean contacts have joined Facebook within the past couple months.

    While this still only represents a penetration rate of around 3%, Cyworld was acknowledging all the way back in 2006 that they had reached maximum market penetration (see page 84 of the linked report).

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    My experience working with LG leads me to believe that all corporations are as portrayed in Dilbert.

    The lefty habit of dissing one’s own culture notwithstanding, look around the world and see who doesn’t like Coka-Cola and McDonald’s. Then check out how free they are to admit what foreign or non-(insert religion name here)-approved products they like. I think you’ll see American products are available everywhere there is any small part of a free market.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    I agree with Hadid.

    My genius and my ability to single-handedly globalize the Korean university system and bring it into the 21st century has long been ignored . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Speaking of Koreans trying to break into foreigner markets, I thought this Zenkimchi post on CJ’s attempts to break into the American fast casual restaurant market was interesting:

    Bibigo: McBibimbap of the World

    Don’t dumb down your food. Be inventive. Improve. But taking what exists then taking some away because you haven’t even bothered to learn your market without adding anything more, that is some weak sauce, literally. If anything, CJ should be taking hints from contemporary people like David Chang (Momofuku) or Roy Choi (Kogi and Chego). In the case of the latter, he’s not making his food milder. He’s making serrano pepper gochujang. And both serve up cheaper food than Bibigo. Let’s see, do you want David Chang’s $20 daily prix fixe at the Ssäm bar, or do you want W30,000 worth of Bibigo?

    As always, Koreans have no concept of the word “vegetarian” as it is known in the Western world. With Bibigo, they’re 98% of the way there. Unfortunately, they’re falling on their faces about two feet from the finish line. Nabak kimchi in place of garden-variety baechu kimchi (which features a seafood component for fermentation). Tofu as a prominent protein choice. We’re full-on vegan at this point. Among Asian foods, that is truly amazing. But then things lose their way. The Doenjang-guk gets a clam broth, the Kongnammul-guk may get a slight meat flavoring. We have no assurance, if any, whether the sauteed namul has been sauteed in meat stock, as it can be. The “Kohot sauce” even mentions on the packet label that it was made in a processing factory that also handles meat, seafood and gluten products, but this is only written in Korean. So, overall, huge missed point there, and that could have been a huge one for them.

    [...]

    For such a simple idea as fast bibimbap, Bibigo is clearly a product of too many chefs and a case of corporate stone soup. It seems like a project that they brought into the office one morning and let everyone chip in their ideas–and they actually used them. Presumably the whole project was wrapped up after a keyword brainstorming session about an hour before lunch, while everyone was hungry.

    Well, at least they opened it up near UCLA, which has got to have a Korean student population of 15-20% of the total student body.

    The good news is that after TWO FREAKING YEARS of being in the U.S., BBQ Chicken USA has finally started offering traditional American fried chicken sides like cole slaw and mac & cheese.

  • PineForest

    Setnaffa,

    Why do you think it’s a lefty tendency to criticize one’s own culture? It seems to me that there is plenty of criticism of the status quo in the US, from both left and right.

  • PineForest

    Has anyone seen the documentary ‘fuel’? It’s perhaps the brightest, most hopeful thing I’ve seen in a long time regarding the opportunity we have to build a sustainable future through alternative energy. Recommended. The caveat is that I have to do a lot of homework and see if some of the most plausible alternatives are as good as they are made to sound.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    PineForest,

    You live in Northern California or the Pacific Northwest, huh?

  • PineForest

    Nope. And thanks for asking, but I prefer not to mention where I live on a blog.

  • Minjokjuuija

    may only get Korea to per capita GDP of $20-25k, which isn’t where they said they want to be, which is $35-40k per capita GDP.

    In order to get to the next tier more business service and media companies may be necessary.

    Why does Korea need to reach these ever ascending per capita GDP levels? And at what cost?

    Why does Korea need to “get to the next tier”?

  • PineForest

    I guess there’s no harm in mentioning that I am near big mountains and, yes, pine forests…on a personal note, when I left Korea, I was filled with anger at many things about living there. I thought about skipping the ‘hole’ when I left. But Korea is too fascinating for me to stop watching it. I chose this name because I wanted to remind myself to comment with more peace of mind and with less emotion. And few places give me peace of mind like a pine forest.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Minjokjuuija,

    Because Japan is already there? And you know how competitive the Koreans are… especially when it comes to the Japanese.

    PineForest,

    Oh, okay. You just sounded like one of those Pacific Northwest/Bay Area Eco-terrorists for a second there… ;)

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    And “Pine Forest” also sounds like an air freshener . . .

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • http://www.wm3.org iheartblueballs

    cmm and seouldout,

    I also didn’t think Cyworld USA had a chance:

    Cyworld launched in August 2006. It folded in November 2008. Your link to your supposed prescience is from September 2008.

    So you’re saying that after watching Cyworld USA flounder for two years with squat in terms of publicity, media buzz, or revenue….that’s when you publicly declared it didn’t have a chance? And for that you want credit?

    I must say it took a lot of balls to look in the water, see the ship 99% submerged, and then “predict” that it would sink.

    Must’ve been lonely so far out on that limb.

  • PineForest

    Ok, my turn: what is the most time you have spent in the wilderness, away from all signs of human habitation, if indeed you ever have done so? Wangkon?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    PineForest,

    One week. Joshua Tree National Forest, CA.

    IHBB,

    I was not even a commentor at TMH in 2006. But, when it first came into the market in the U.S. I didn’t think it would succeed.

  • PineForest

    Cool. I was gonna give you that ‘man, you are really missing out’ speech. ;p

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I’ve never seen so many stars before in my life. There are more viewable stars in the sky in the low desert than there are in the mountains.

    http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-starparties16sep16

  • http://midnightengineer.wordpress.com/ NetizenKim

    True innovations: the transistor, microchip, programming languages, laser, etc.

    Not an innovation: Facebook

  • http://www.wm3.org iheartblueballs

    But, when it first came into the market in the U.S. I didn’t think it would succeed.

    What you thought to yourself is your own business. You posted a statement and a link implying that you were ahead of the curve when in fact you were far behind it (at least publicly).

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    NK,

    Doth think you are too analog in your choices. And out of your two innovations isn’t microchip just an improvement of the transistor?

    IHBB,

    Okay, you got me. I give up. I surrender.

  • yuna

    Mark Zuckerberg and Kim Jungun, both about the same age. What a crazy world we live in.

  • dogbertt

    And both equally dorky.

    Probably have comparable net worths though.

  • Zilchy

    #26 Jieun K – “Could a language barrier be a factor working to the disadvantage of foreign professionals in Korean business organizations when it comes to adding persuasive power to their say in important decision-making?”

    Nay! Koreans who have excellent command of other languages and know damn well the exact translations and meanings will still show their Minjok arrogance. This statement is more reality based than “bashing based”, although, the latter is much more enjoyable.

  • tinyflowers

    Mr. Hadid would have more credibility if his piece didn’t read like some ESL student’s school essay. No wonder nobody wanted to hire him. Who the fuck would listen to lectures about “a global vision” from this twat?

  • tinyflowers

    True innovations: the transistor, microchip, programming languages, laser, etc.

    Not an innovation: Facebook

    Facebook = Myspace 2.0

    And to think… Myspace could have been a Korean company!

    Hire me and “cultivate” my innovative and creative Western mind!

  • exit86

    “Some expat scientists and engineers hired by Korean companies end up proofreading documents and typing e-mails instead of doing research”

    Yup, the exact reason I quite one of my old jobs in the past. Ha!
    That office is still doing the same crap with the same clients that I repeatedly suggested they change and expand upon six years ago. How silly of me to think I had anything to add to or offer such a wonderful way of doing business; and imagine all the happiness I abandoned by not shutting up and writing letters for the boss to sign his name to.

  • milton

    I think anti-foreign bias could play a factor in the ubiquitous “foreigner with 6 hard science PhDs and 30 years of experience relegated to a desk and editing the boss’s personal correspondences” aka the “Foreign Furniture” stories, but I think a more prescient explanation is Korean culture itself, which prioritizes relationships, social status, and group harmony over knowledge, experience, and ability (that’s not to say the later aren’t important here—just given less weight). I guess the Westerner comes here and expects to be listened to because he has an in-depth understanding of and hands-on experience with the field but he hasn’t cultivated the proper relationships or he’s much younger than the other guys in the office. So the boss then feels the need to listen to his more senior/closer lieutenants even though they may be less experienced and/or have less education. I’m not passing judgment on this system because it seems to have worked extraordinarily well in Korea over the past 40 years, and Korean companies, despite some spectacular failures (e.g. Lotte, Cyworld, the Hyundai fiasco, etc) are making off like gangbusters in the Southeast Asia and the Middle East. But certainly if the goal of the Korean government and Korean companies is to continue to make great strides on the global scene, than they would be well-advised to make better use of their foreign talent.

    I should add, though, that I have come across my fair share of Westerners (particularly in the field of education) with “colonial mindsets”—people with no qualifications who think they should be listened to by virtue of the fact that they are Western or Western-educated. I’m not in any way implying that this is true of anyone on this site, but I think we’ve all had our encounters with the F.O.B. English Teacher with his newly-minted art history BA who has a mind to tell his/her principal/boss/director how it should be.

  • cmm

    Could a language barrier be a factor working to the disadvantage of foreign professionals in Korean business organizations when it comes to adding persuasive power to their say in important decision-making?

    I think yes Jieun K. There is a lot of talk here about how the foreign employees’ ideas/recommendations are ignored in favor of the “Korean Way,” but my experiences don’t show this to be the case, at least not for the reasons implied above. In my experience, lack of effective communication to /lack of understanding by the Korean employees–because of the language barrier–is root of this problem (and most others).

    Where I work, the Japanese employees get interpreters. Some have personal interpreters who keep their desks next to them, attend meetings to interpret for them, translate documents/emails for them, etc. It is automatically assumed that because they are Japanese, they can’t function in English (not a bad assumption, actually). But it is incorrectly assumed that my Korean colleagues are sufficiently proficient in English. If or when the company accepts that most of my Korean coworkers, intelligent (in Korean) as they might be, are basically shit at conducting business in English, even if they got their Ph.D. from a university in the US four years ago, and throws in some interpreting support, they’ll get a much greater ROI on what they are paying the foreign talent. But somewhere along the line (in my case it’s in the HR Department–my bosses are frustrated by the situation too) it is believed that this is unnecessary.

  • milton

    but I think a more prescient illuminating explanation is…

    Sorry, had prescience on the brain…

  • KOS

    I can point to many cultural differences that account for foreign workers having problems in Korean companies. In my case, I worked many years for a Korean company (not-hagwon). My Korean language skills are pretty good (all meetings in Korean). I had the most experience out of anyone on the team. I had had seniority. I was older than 90% of them.

    I even made it into a leadership position.

    But the higher-ups thought I needed an overseer. Downhill from there.

    An older team leader was brought in and proceeded to ignore 90% of the things I did. He told me frankly that “Westerners can’t understand Korean companies and business, so it is better if he handles everything the “Korean way” and that he’ll ask me questions if he needs to.

    He never asked and no one else knew what was going on. I knew it was going to be bad when he satrted calling me by my name instead of my title.

    I ended up quitting. I don’t know if he ever figured out what to do.
    No hard feelings about Korea/Koreans or the company I worked for. I still have great relationships with people in that company.

    But I think it was a case of someone using the “foreigner card” to push a potential rival out of the way.

  • milton

    Strike tag faliure…

  • Jieun K

    CMM—I think I wrote this a while back when I had a conversation with Milton. I’m taking a break from work and planning to attend school (after passing some test). I actually happen to plan on getting a degree for interpretation. (I’ve been a translator by trade. As a matter of fact, I recall translating—as a freelance in 2008—a transcript of a presentation delivered internally in Korean by a Samsung executive to (probably) some members of the management regarding their recent corporate performance and future plans. Informal but serious talk.)

    Anyway, later when I’m done with getting the degree, I might be of help to some folks including you at the Hole who need interpretation. I’ll be able to do some pro bono work when there’s no prearranged task to do.

  • Jieun K

    Another possibility for foreign professionals having difficulty getting along with Korean counterparts in Korean organizations is that their experience could vary depending on what industry they belong to. Some are still backward when others are not.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Okay…. I don’t want to be divisive on purpose here, but I think it’s an important question germaine to the topic at hand. I personally believe that expert and knowledgeable foreigner input in Korean companies are beneficial overall, but I’m going to be a bit of a devil’s advocate.

    Two case studies. You have LG Electronics that has foreigners in top management positions (as CSCO, CPO, CHO and CMO) and then you have Samsung that does not (even Samsung’s executive team in the U.S. has no foreigners). However, one (Samsung) is clearly doing better than the other. If we generally accept that more foreigner input is good for a Korean company, then why is LG sucking wind and Samsung soaring?

    Is corporate unity and speed sometimes more important than a diversity of ideas?

  • tinyflowers

    Obviously LG failed to hire the right guys. They should have hired Akli Hadid to cultivate his “global vision” for a “world class business”

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    Hadid is a woman…

    PineForest, if you don’t understand the difference between (a) criticizing the government and (b) criticizing the culture, you need to stop licking those toads or whatever else you’ve been doing and learn a little about cultures not found in Petri dishes or individually-wrapped cheese slices…

    We have bought LG, Samsung, and Kia products since moving to America. We like the LG phone, the Samsung Washing Machine, and the Kia was “under-engineered” for Texas summers and winters so we replaced it with a Buick.

    LG and every other publicly-traded corporation are really just copies of each other. The differences are in the men and women who work at them and occasionally create something of beauty before they are reorganized into a role that prevents maverick behavior.

  • DLBarch

    Setnaffa,

    You replaced a Kia with a Buick? Awesome! I take back every nasty thought I ever had about you!

    Cheers,
    DLB

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Koreans buy Buicks… they just aren’t made in Detroit:

    http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2925587

  • seouldout

    cmm and seouldout,

    I also didn’t think Cyworld USA had a chance:

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2008/09/25/cyworld-getting-punkd-by-myspace-and-facebook/

    Indeed, you had your doubts. And only 2 years after BlueBalls. How wonderful you are for outing yourself, laddie. ‘Ere you are, have a biscuit.

  • PineForest

    Setnaffa,

    Shockingly, I DO know the difference. But c’mon now, there is plenty of crticism of both gov’t and culture from both left and right. I think you know that. Well… I hope you do.

  • PineForest

    Also, what’s with the heavy dose of vitriol and insult? Sheesh.

  • Arghaeri

    “Is corporate unity and speed sometimes more important than a diversity of ideas?”

    Methinks you hath no experience of working in a korean company ;-)

  • cmm

    Jieun K, I’d hire you as my personal interpreter in a second. Start brushing up on your engineering vocabulary.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Jieun:

    Let me know, too, when you’re back in business; I’ve got a great contact for you.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    seouldout,

    I had my doubts from the very beginning. As IHBB said, clearly those thoughts were not published online in 2006.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    KT has an article on what I talked about in comment #66.

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/tech/2010/10/133_73898.html

    Generally, a decent article (considering it’s the KT) but why would the supply chain officer get canned? I believe that supply chain has very little to do with what’s wrong with LG.

    Furthermore, experts believe that LG has pretty good supply chain.

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_17/b4175037784791.htm

  • milton

    WangKon, per your devil’s advocate question:

    In order to accept these case studies as relevant to the question at hand, we must first accept the assumption that the foreigners at LG caused LG’s weak performance, while the ethnic unity at Samsung caused Samsung’s better performance. This assumption may or may not be a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. More evidence is needed to prove this, and other (possible more cogent?) explanations need to be ruled out first.

    This assertion also presuppose that it was the “foreign-ness” of the employees that was responsible, and not their abilities. This is certainly a possibility, but perhaps they weren’t the right people for the job? I don’t know, but again these are questions that must be considered before we can draw lessons from these examples.

    Also, I don’t accept that more foreign input is better for Korean companies in general. In specific cases, probably, but I’d like to see evidence that proves this claim before I accept it, and I revise what I said in #59 to that effect.

  • milton

    I think one lesson we can draw from the case of Samsung and many other Korean companies over the past 50 years is that Korean companies can get by very well without foreign input (at least on the executive level). The historical and balance-sheet record is very clear on that matter. A few high-profile failures don’t prove the contrary because I the successes far outweigh the failures. The bigger, as-of-yet unanswered question is can Korean companies be improved with foreign input? This is a question that won’t be answered for some time.

  • cmm

    I think one lesson we can draw from the case of Samsung and many other Korean companies over the past 50 years is that Korean companies can get by very well without foreign input (at least on the executive level).

    can Korean companies be improved with foreign input?

    They already have been improved by foreign input. Maybe not at the executive level, but poaching Japanese talent/know-how has done wonders for them in the product “development,” and I sometimes wonder how well they could have gotten along without this.

  • milton

    Cmm, good point. If I recall correctly, modern Korean companies do a lot to Japanese know-how and corporate practice,k especially in their formative years.

    Not to move the goal-posts, but I was thinking more along the lines of developing, marketing, and selling products and services to foreigners. Would Korean companies be improved if they, say, imported Western-style management techniques? If they hired foreigners to advise them on local market conditions and trends? If they hired foreigners to oversee local subsidiaries? If they brought non-Korean upper-management onboard, as LG did?

    These are questions I’d like to know more about.

  • milton

    modern Korean companies do *owe* a lot to …

  • cmm

    …not just in their formative years, but I’ve commented about this enough in the past that there’s no point in repeating it, again.

  • milton

    A short summary of your views would be nice…;-)

    I’m genuinely interested in knowing more about this.

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  • cmm

    It seems to be quite an established practice to poach employees from Japanese companies, pay them very well to bring know-how, and use them to get production going. There are many lawsuits as a result of this, but more are probably avoided by giving the new employees Korean names from the start to prevent any record of their employment.

    I don’t know how widespread this is, but in my corner of the world I can say that it’s an active process, and I’ve seen it be VERY effective in “achieving” technological breakthroughs and maintaining some key competitive advantages in highly specialized processes that few companies in the world have figured out. I do suspect that it happens quite often, especially considering the number of Japanese engineers you’ll find in Korean tech companies. Japanese engineers don’t generally come to work in Korea just for the kimuchee, if you know what I’m saying.

    Once when I spoke of this in the past, another foreign engineer with experience in Korea who occasionally posts here (maybe it was “dry” or “ecorn”? …not sure) challenged me on my position. He didn’t think it was a significant factor or something that was strictly Korean particularly unethical, but more like business as usual. Searching the MH archives for more about this might help you find that conversation (about a year old I believe). It would be good to confirm his exact position and get an alternative viewpoint–I don’t want to misrepresent him.

  • Jieun K

    CMM (#75) & Sperwer (#76):

    CMM, I saw your post in the open thread. I’d like to say: I wish nothing but the best for you wherever you go. Your reasons for considering other great opportunities back home are all very legitimate and well-grounded. Hope things will work out the way you want.

    I appreciate your kind words. This is probably a bit overdue, but I gotta give you mad props for straightforwardly expressing your (cyber)crush on yours truly. Take it from me: you have the perspicacity to discern the “real deals.” Either that or (like I said before) we’re on the same wavelength. Anyway, it’d be a terrific experience to work with a nice gentleman like you. We’d establish great rapport in no time—I’m sure of it.

    Sperwer, I really appreciate it. Only after two years of training—which has yet to start after passing an admissions test—plus some client-dazzling work experience will I be ready to let you know I’m back in business. I look forward to it. But I gotta tell you, though, don’t hold your breath. ;)