Friday, June 29, 2012

Matching pink pants

So it was always entertaining to see couples in Korea who wore matching t-shirts. But i saw a couple wearing matching pink sweatpants this time. (and yes, i got a picture to remember it by). The other entertaining element was to show the "blimp" that is at the entrance of the airport to my two colleagues in the taxi. The driver said, "it is always the men who laugh at that" Yes, you can imagine what it looks like. The Samsung hand would have looked a lot better than this piece of "art"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Illiterate taxi driver

Something I could only laugh about in hindsight...An illiterate taxi driver on my last night in Korea. After I get in the cab, he peppers me with questions (I am presuming he asks me which highway to take). Finally i give him the card to call the hotel. He proceeds to input a few things into the GPS, but never gets to the final screen. All along the way he is driving, then calling the hotel, and then driving again...We took one of the more circuitous routes through Suwon, and I getting more frustrated, but needless to say my Korean was never that good even when I lived there. Finally we end up on the highway, i know we haven't gone the most direct route as i see signs for the airport (on the west side of seoul, i want to be on the east side!) But we end up in Seoul, so I am mildly relieved at least. This was shattered when he goes over the bridge and takes a left. Now i KNOW we are headed in the wrong direction. So I call up the hotel myself. After all, at this point it has been over an hour, it is 9 pm, and I am HUNGRY (never mind tired). A few calls to the hotel, and passing the phone back and forth with him, and the hotel concierge tells me that he thinks the taxi driver is illiterate. He keeps typing in 1-2 letters, looking around, and then canceling out of the menu. (I know i could have figured it out by this point, but the hotel tells him to find some help). After sitting for almost 20 minutes on a side road in a random part of Seoul, listening to the back and forth with the hotel, the concierge finally instructs to the driver to find someone to input Walkerhill into the GPS. The driver gets two girls walking who were passing by to type in the address. And finally we have a full GPS route! Of course it couldn't be that simple, since he took a wrong turn almost immediately and we headed back over the bridge. Sigh...Thankfully one U turn later, we were headed in the right direction, and i was at the hotel only 2 hours after I got in the cab (for what should have been a 40 minute drive). So the crazy thing about the whole experience? I don't think I could have handled it much better even if my Korean had been better. You don't expect someone to have a GPS and not know how to type Korean...I did make sure I did not pay full fare though, even if Samsung was paying for it, no way would I encourage that sort of experience! So the total bill for that 2 hours of driving? Less than $40...Yes, taxis are still cheap in Korea ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Back in Korea (again)

Yes, it was time for my 3rd trip to Korea in the last year. Hard to believe that it has been nearly 3 years since I left! Notable changes from my last visit - the Hooters next to my old apartment is gone :( Thankfully my favorite glasses store is still around (although I was not able to fix anything this go-around since he was on vacation - for 3 weeks!) This trip was busy with work, 4 days in Korea, and 2 days on a plane. Managed to watch 4.5 movies on the way out, and 2 on the way back. Cowboys and Aliens, truly as bad as I expected...Ghost Rider 2 was better, which says something... One of my favorite moments in Korea this time. A phrase from one of the folks in Korea for a new post-sales service: Happy Call Service. That might improve loyalty, but it might not be legal ;)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Truth or fiction?

I had not thought about Korea too much in the last 6 months, but it was fascinating to read about this most recent article (written by a NYTimes reporter):

Life has been a roller coaster for Kim Yong-chul since he began talking about Samsung Electronics two and a half years ago. He has been celebrated by some as a whistle-blower, but in a culture that emphasizes workers’ loyalty to their employers, he has also been vilified as a traitor driven by personal grudges.

That was before Mr. Kim’s 474-page exposé, “Think Samsung,” hit stores in February.

The book makes sensational allegations of extensive corruption by Lee Kun-hee, the richest man in South Korea and the chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest technology company by revenue.

I won't post the whole article, but I do have a favorite quote: "We are seething with anger, but we are not going to sue him and make him a star again," said Kim Jun-shik, Samsung's senior vice president for corporate communications. "When you see a pile of excrement, you avoid it not because you fear it but because it's dirty."

An interesting set of issues. I still get a kick out of the president pardoning him. The president who came from the conglomerate world himself, and who had pardoned his former boss for embezzlement. That said, not that I am too proud of some of our American presidents...What can you do?

Monday, February 1, 2010

American cultural sensitivity

So this moment amazed me (although perhaps it shouldn't have). We were eating at a nice Thai restaurant, and there was a Elephant god statue on a pedestal in the corner. Potentially this could have been purely decorational (although it was likely connected with religious sentiment, given the ethnicity of the wait-staff). Now I mention all of these things because I would expect that there is one thing that it was not: a coat rack. And yet, one of the diners placed her jacket on top the statue. Michelle debated going over and tell her that she would have 5 years of bad luck for doing that (ie she would have done it if i had not dissuaded her). We still had entertainment however when one of waitstaff noticed. She took the jacket to them and asked if it was alright if she brought it downstairs (ie where the coat rack is), and proceeded to bow several times to the statue. Just a "slight" bit of religious significance to the statue...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Old vs New Marketing

It is interesting to read about Audi using the superbowl to promote its new cars. It makes you realize that as much as we have changed, a fundamental human point about simplicity is key. You reach the most consumers through TV, even if you reach many consumers that are not in your target audience. One TV commercial versus multiple tactics customized on different sites to different audiences. Most companies would prefer the easy way, and until we have more people working, then that won't change. Although ironically, targeting might make things cheaper in the end (including the increased headcount of managing that targeting...)

I love this statistic: And in Brandweek, Steve McClellan reports that a Nielsen survey finds 51% of viewers enjoy the Super Bowl more for the ads than the game. Given that the Patriots are gone already, I am likely in the majority!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

9 worst cities

This is fantastic. Seoul needs to seriously clean up its image:
(From the Lonely Planet)

Your 9 least favourite cities

1. Detroit, USA – Because of the crime, pollution and crumbling infrastructure.
2. Accra, Ghana – Ugly, chaotic, sprawling and completely indifferent to its waterfront location.
3. Seoul, South Korea – According to one traveller comment, ‘It’s an appallingly repetitive sprawl of freeways and Soviet-style concrete apartment buildings, horribly polluted, with no heart or spirit to it. So oppressively bland that the populace is driven to alcoholism.’
4. Los Angeles, USA – A highly contentious pick, placed here because of its ‘uncontrolled sprawl, pollution, appalling traffic and ugly freeways’, according to one traveller.

(Not sure how I feel about 2 US cities being in the top 4, but they are LA and Detroit...)