Unfortunately one more of my friends from here left. Thomas, who was a colleague in the group, and also a client for a project on the mobile phone. We had a going away party for him, which was great to see a few folks (and get a beer after work!) Had some great discussions, including an interesting one about Korea's socialist past.
In Korea the point is to not get left behind and it throws the idea of meritocracy into the wind. If one of your colleagues has advanced faster than you, it means something is wrong. In the US, you work harder to catch up, but here it is expected that people of the same age have the same rank, and the main way to move up past people is to be extremely autocratic. (Note: there are generalizations here, but there is some truth to this). It does explain why parents will force their kids to go to cram school for most of their waking time (their kids are not allowed to fall behind other children). Whatever concerns I have about kids in the US working too hard (my nephew was worried about grades and complicated math theorems long before I was!), it is much scarier here. Kid has a week of vacation? Send them to cram school for 10 hours a day. Yikes!