Working in Korea Inc.

Don Southerton with Moderater Nikita Desai of Korea Society

By William Kustiono

On June 27th 2013, The Korea Society presented a discussion about the job opportunities in working in Korea Inc. by Don Southerton, CEO and President of Bridging Cultures Worldwide and author of Korea Facing: Secrets for Success in Korean Global Business. He has authored many publications on the Korean auto industry, new urbanism, entrepreneurialism and early U.S.-Korean business ventures. Don knows there is a high benefit of working with Korean Companies, so he decides to share the secrets for working successfully within Korean Corporations.

When Don talked about the secrets, he expressed the pros and cons of working in these corporations. Corporations such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and KIA are globally expanded. They have struggled and made a major breakthrough during the great recession, so they possess abundant opportunities in the future. Korea is one of the earliest countries who declared the currency crisis over during the Asian Financial Crisis event.

The cons of working in Korean companies are the working conditions. It is very challenging, and although many people think they are well prepared, most need coaching and support. People need support from the upper management; they need to have a mentor in the company. This is important because new employees, especially international people, need to adapt to the Korean culture. After they have successfully adapted to the company’s culture, it will be easier to guide them to the next level.

Don also spoke about brand new employees needing personal motivation and setting up a goal among them. They need motivation to overcome challenges from inside and outside the company. The challenges from the inside are adapting to the company’s culture and understanding the dynamics in the Korean Group. The challenges from the outside are adapting to the culture difference and doing things that contribute to the society. The employees need to overcome these challenges if they want to succeed in Korea.

There will always be competitors, especially international. Korean companies are working together with their American branches producing parts and doing research about the latest technology. Samsung and LG have successfully developed new technology that enhances people’s experience on Korean products. Hyundai also has successfully improved people’s reaction on Korean automobile and recently Hyundai launched a social work event targeting on the early childhood education. We are currently facing a shift in the generation, from the baby boomers to the generation X, and now we have a lot of young people from the Millennial Generation. These Millennial generations have different understanding than other generations; therefore their presence in the companies is great because they could contribute to the diversity in the company.

Don concluded with a brief mention on his book Korea Facing: Secrets for Success in Korean Global Business. This book is targeted to the expatriates who want to work in Korea. It tells about the Korean cultures that the expatriates need to understand and learn from it. Don knows that each expat has different knowledge and experience. Therefore, Don is explaining every single detail about expecting your teams and providing strategy for market entry, coaching teams and understanding the Korean company’s culture. Best wishes for the expatriates who wish to journey to Korea and make sure you have plenty of support for the journey.

Don Southerton



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