Are you non-Korean but working in a Korean white collar office environment? Then you might be an “office outsider.”
(Image from the WSJ)
A non-Korean gal who worked as an English teacher for two years has gotten a job with a Korean corporation. She thought she understood Korea as an English teacher, but working in the Korean corporate world was a whole new ball game.
My generic workstation in a room filled with cubicles could be located in any office park in North America. But my prior work experience, as well as my two years of teaching English at a middle school near Seoul, did little to prepare me for the Korean corporate sector.
When I entered the office on my first day of work, I was astonished to see formally dressed office workers standing in rows and performing calisthenics while the official exercise song (국민체조) played over the intercom.
My journey began with an interview. While I and the other candidates waited for the interview to begin, an human resources representative who was filling out personal profile questionnaires casually asked our blood type, religion, and alcohol tolerance.
I have faced some of the most curious, challenging, and unexpected experiences of my time in Korea, and my life, from enduring the months-long new employee training camp to adjusting to the office worker lifestyle. Now I am more immersed in Korean culture than I ever imagined or hoped, and the surprises just keep coming.
Calisthenics for office workers? Questionnaires asking for blood-type and alcohol tolerance? Everybody bowing in perfect unison? Oh, my!
“Office Outsider” will be a bi-weekly column written by the gal in question (I am guessing she will remain anonymous?). I’m looking forward to reading future installments.