Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

The good and the bad of foreigners working at Korean firms

with 2 comments

Interesting article from the Joongang Daily about non-teaching foreigners working in Korea:

Foreign employees working in Korea mostly agree that one of the strengths of Korean companies is the work ethic and corporate commitment here.

“The Korean corporate environment in general promotes a very strong work ethic and employees tirelessly put in hours to support their companies,” said David James Biske, who has been working at GM Daewoo for six years and currently is the development director.

This is quite the opposite of the sentiment of most English language instructors.  Of course when big salaries and status comes into play, one is willing to put in more effort and sacrifice a lot of free time.  Not saying that language instructors don’t work hard but reading ESL Cafe, you can’t miss a post where overtime hours are a major complaint.  However, to be fair, since more instructors are contracted for specific hours, they have every right to complain IF they don’t get paid for those hours.

I think the following is very true but I don’t necessarily think it’s a good or bad thing:

“There are certainly differences between Korea and the U.S. that affect the work environment,” said Steve Frawley, the first non-Korean executive at SK Telecom. “The U.S. tends to place a greater focus on individualism versus collectivism in Korea.”

Frawley added that there is a stronger focus in Korean companies for maintaining harmony as compared to the U.S. where employees “confront and challenge each other in solving a problem or issue.”

Challenges for foreigners working in Korea seem to be similar regardless of employment:

“Although there are many positive aspects to the strong work ethic in Korea, it is also unsustainable over long periods and may ultimately cause lower effectiveness and higher chances for mistakes and accidents,” said Biske.

For Frawley, the biggest challenge in working in a Korean company is the language barrier.

“I do believe that in order to adjust to Korean life, it is advantageous to learn some language skills and certainly gain a good understanding of the culture,” Frawley said.

“There are lots of internal research and reports in Korean sent to me everyday, but I don’t feel as though I have any real access to this information,” Lee said. Due to the language barrier, “I sometimes feel as if there is a glass wall that prevents foreigners from getting on the inside, whether it would be people, information or authorities.”

More about challenges faced by these foreigners working at these companies on my post here.

Other barriers include the lack of infrastructure supporting foreigners and a homogenous culture that does not embrace diversity.



Written by recruiterinkorea

October 15, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. […] Korean company employees start off pretty low but after 10 years make over 50 million KRW in annual salary.  Reading about Korean salaries definitely puts things into perspective.  A lot of foreigners in their 20s and 30s make over 50 million regardless of their line of work and we all know that working at a company in Korea isn’t always as good as it may seem. […]

  2. […] 4M”.  I’ve discussed salaries in Korea various times (here, here, here, here, here, here, here).  Please read through these as it will give you a different perspective from native English […]

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