Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rooftop concert

On Friday night a friend of mine let me know about a "Live Fusion concert" on a rooftop. Some good music, instruments I had not seen before, and in different styles than traditional Korean music. We did listen to the music perhaps a little less than we should have though, we were all busy talking. It was a funny small world, where my co-worker's wife recognized the friend who told me about the concert (Will, who I know through a random connection at Berkeley). She was a couple of years behind him at school...

Most of us dressed completely incorrectly, in t-shirts on a night when that was not the good decision. But we drank as much wine to make up for it.

And the coolest thing about the night? They did a drawing at the end of the night and I won a bottle of wine!!!

Friday, May 30, 2008

No word for feedback

We discovered this in Korean class the other night, Feedback is simply said with a Korean accent (peed-bakku). It cracks me up because it definitely implies that this is something you don't do in Korea. Give feedback to others?!?! Of course I say that, and this was right after my feedback session from my first project. But our group is different ;)

Monday, May 26, 2008

You're fired

This is among one of many phrases that we learned in Korean class the other night. There are only two of us, and half of our Korean is spent insulting each other. Needless to say, I think the teacher was a little concerned to start (are they going to use these words to actually insult Koreans?) It does keep it entertaining when we have a little book of all of these phrases and see who can remember what phrase. Did you just call me a ____? Fine, then you are _____! And somewhere in those phrases we actually are learning Korean.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Busy weekend

After the crazy off-site, I spent a good chunk of the weekend visiting different places in Seoul. Saturday was Indiana Jones (meets x-files, not sure how i felt about that, but I am planning on trying to see Iron Man still). Sunday was over 2 hours of basketball, and my body is slowly recovering. Fun to be outside with co-workers and meet a bunch of korean-americans who live over here. We ended the day at the Hard Rock Cafe, which actually has some of the best nachos in town. Then the week started again with a batch of new recruits coming to visit Korea. Busy times but definitely kept me entertained!

Friday, May 23, 2008

3 days of vacation a year

On the heels of the articles about low productivity for Korean workers, they also apparently work the longest hours (there has to be some way to get them up to the 11th largest economy if it isn't productivity, right?)

Check out this article

"South Korea, where the average employee works 2,357 hours per year--that's six-and-a-half hours for every single day of their life. According to a 2008 ranking by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, South Koreans work the longest hours per year, on average, out of every other OECD member."

Talking about people taking on average 3 days of vacation a year. Can you imagine? It has been described that Korea is still a developing country. While perhaps not from an economic perspective, it is only 30-40 years removed from the average per capita income being $80 a year, that's right, $80!

MVP for jet-lag

Friday we had a group outing, an off-site including sharing projects and the afternoon with a bunch of games. I was voted MVP, I think mainly because I came directly from the airport to the bus (the 12:20 am flight from LAX gets you in at 5 am, NOT ideal for functioning and I definitely didn't stay up for the whole day, I lost control of keeping my eyes open by about 6 pm). I definitely wasn't the MVP for the water balloon toss (launching it about 10 feet over the head of my partner (didn't quite know my own strength?) We did have fun with a relay, group jump rope and a human pyramid. In the afternoon we went to a charcoal sauna (one of the rooms must have been about 80 degrees (celsius!)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Trip back to the states

I had a complete whirlwind tour back to the west coast, 3 working days, a majority of it spent at a conference in San Diego (that was a little more technically focused than I would have preferred), but still great to be in the Bay and in San Diego. Got to see Bay to Breakers (and things I didn't want to see in that race), catch up with old colleagues, and did the requisite shopping trip for everything that I can't get in Korea (either because it is too expensive or because they don't have shoe sizes big enough...) That and an iPod Nano for my commute starting next month (when I will be on a bus for 1-2 hours every day).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Korean productivity? Not so much

It is funny, I read an article yesterday that Korea ranked at the bottom of the productivity scale.

"Korea's labor productivity dipped as the world's lowest for the sixth consecutive year, a massive obstacle to uplifting national competitiveness."

It is amazing that a country with a number of well-known brands (including Samsung) can have such low productivity. As one of my friends put it, "the amount of red tape in Korea that it makes France look like an entrepreneur’s dream!"

With all of this however, things are really fascinating over here. Having LG hire a few foreigners in high-up positions, the scandal at Samsung and massive management shake-up (including dissolving the office that our group sits under...). Things are changing, perhaps not super fast, but still interesting to watch and make you wonder how things will be in 10 years.

Apparently the drinking culture of Korea is changing slightly, the younger generation does not easily tolerate the continual nightly drinking with co-workers. They probably still have to go often, but perhaps less. That said, I did see a guy on my way home the other night was trying to rid himself of some of the alcohol...Ah Korea


So I have been lazy about posts, but that hasn’t slowed me down from having some fun with new signs. My favorite is for Pre-Medical School, with big posters and signs labeled PMS. Will post a picture one of these days!

In other news, friends have been to a place where serves a novel new drink, “Jack and Cock” Some of this stuff never gets old!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things are different here

Finally confirming a business trip about 2-3 days before I am going, things move at a different pace here. And many of these things you can chalk up to cultural differences. Friends saying, “yeah it is hard to explain to family members why you are having a stress attack over trying to schedule a business trip” “But just ask the company or your boss this…” You don’t understand, this is Korea.

I will say it will be nice to be back in the states for a bit, even if it is a whirlwind tour. Even better to see my nephew and sister!