Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

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tlslsnlsp
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Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby tlslsnlsp » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:50 am

Is anyone working / interested in working in firms in Seoul? I hear that the Korean legal market is set to open up to foreign firms (finally catching up with Tokyo and Hong Kong) in the near future (within 5 years or so?) thanks to the free trade agreements and it being 2011 and all (about time, esp. for one of the top economies in the world). In terms of job opportunities in Seoul I hear there's a handful of Korean firms controlling the legal market in Seoul that hire a few American JDs, along with in-house positions for all the big international businesses based in Seoul (Samsung, Hyundai, LG, etc.) and international businesses with offices in Seoul.

Its my understanding that some big American firms still do some Seoul-related work through their Hong Kong offices, but I'd imagine they'd actually move in for good once the legal market opens up? What firms do you think will try to establish themselves in Seoul? Any tips on working in Seoul as an American JD or stories about what life is like as a JD in Seoul?

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:33 pm

Yes, you're correct that the Korean legal market is supposed to open up in the near future. That being said, this has been true for the past 4-5 years. I previously heard the market was supposed to open up by 2009 but it still hasn't been done.

Re: American law firms, yes, most of them that work in Korea currently operate out of Hong Kong. The lawyers though will spend every day in Korea up to the limit (i think it's 180 days or something ...). There are a handful of U.S. firms with pretty substantial Korean practices (e.g. Cleary Gottlieb, Simpson Thacher, Paul Hastings, ...). These firms all have a couple of Korean-born, American-educated Partners who have helped them make substantial inroads into Korea.

I think the difficulty though is that Korea is still seen by many law firms as not being a big enough market (in comparison to China and Japan). Also, these practices don't do "Korean law" but rather they help Korean companies conduct transactions in U.S. markets (usually some sort of financing, generally all transactional work).

Re: lifestyle in American law firms, it's pretty similar to what you'll find in the U.S. Hours can be long. One nice thing, of course, is that you'll likely receive an expat package (meaning money for an apartment, perhaps schooling for the kiddies, etc.). Because there are generally fewer people with the requisite deals, you may be able to get more responsibility earlier on. Speaking Korean can help but it's not absolutely necessary at an American law firm because you're doing American law. But It helps if you have connections to the area in terms of building up a client base (most of the partners at the American firms seem to be well-connected in Korea).

Re: the Korean law firms, yes, they do hire a handful of "Foreign Legal Consultants" in the hope of building a more international practice. However, unless you are fluent in Korean, it'll be tough to advance all that far in a Korean law firm. It also hurts that you don't have a Korean legal license.

Re: Korean companies hiring American JDs, this has been a recent trend, particularly for Korean companies with a global footprint (e.g. Samsung, LG). I have heard that these positions are not to difficult to obtain but they pay substantially less than U.S. law firms or U.S. companies (as in-house counsel). That being said, cost of living is less.

I can't comment on Korean law firms, as I've never worked in one before. I have, however, worked in a Korean company. Korean companies have notoriously long hours (I think they work the most # of hours of any country in the OECD). However, partly that's because there are a lot of social expectations surrounding work (you're expected to go out and drink with your countries) and partly that's because "facetime" can be important in Korean settings. Seoul is definitely a fun place to live (it's a bonafide 24/7 city) but expect to work long hours for less pay than you'd receive in the States.

For myself personally, the thought of living in Korea is nice (it's a fun place + i have family there) but the thought of working there full-time is not so nice. You'll need to weigh what is important to you though ...

tlslsnlsp
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby tlslsnlsp » Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:00 pm

thanks for the detailed reply. Another US educated lawyer in Korea I spoke to not too long ago seconded the "Korea's legal market isn't large enough to spark a boom even when the legal market opens up" idea. If that's the case, I suppose the only firms that will make an effort to set up shop in Korea once it opens up would be the handful of firms currently with substantial Korean practices you mentioned? Do you know any other than Cleary Gottlieb, Simpson Thacher, Paul Hastings? And do these Korean partners work in their Hong Kong offices?

motiontodismiss
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:04 am

Korean legal market is fucked. half the newly licensed lawyers are unemployed and unlike in the US the bar in Korea is hard.

One thing: Seoul is SO not a 24/7 city. No self-respecting 24/7 city can cut off the subway at midnight. And btw, the cost of living in Korea is SO not less. Groceries in particular cost twice to three times as much. And getting a deposit for an apartment is impossible unless you have like $50k cash.

As far as hours go, there's a lot of facetime and a lot of sitting around on your ass surfing youtube. Koreans work the longest hours of any OECD country but it ranks in the bottom for productivity. So a lot of sitting around doing bitchwork or no work at all for a really long time. Doesn't help that North Korea is a suburb of Seoul. Koreans are emigrating in droves. There's a reason for that. The population is declining. The population is getting old. The National Assembly here wants to expand the already huge welfare state (which means more taxes or bankruptcy-old people get everything for free and someone will have to pay for it). Unemployment for young college grads is like 8% compared to 3.3% for overall. Smaller population=>smaller economy=>more emigration=>smaller population, repeat ad nauseam. Whoever said Korea was a good country to live in was full of shit, I'm sorry. If the schools here taught English properly, this country would only have old people.

The top Korean firm pays locals like $64k base. I don't see pay for expats being more than twice that. Also management practices at Korean corporations are totally sketch. Samsung, internally, apparently is run like some fly by night operation.

In conclusion, totally not recommended.
Last edited by motiontodismiss on Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

tlslsnlsp
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby tlslsnlsp » Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:25 am

motiontodismiss wrote:Korean legal market is fucked. half the newly licensed lawyers are unemployed and unlike in the US the bar in Korea is hard.

The top Korean firm pays locals like $64k base.


I believe this is more true of those licensed in Korea, not US JDs doing transactional work in Korea.

motiontodismiss
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:30 pm

QoL still sucks in Korea. Believe me, I'm here. Can't wait to get out.

And if you ever had respiratory illnesses ever in your entire life, or have a family history-RUN. AWAY. Air quality sucks here, especially if there are sandstorms in China. I've been here 6 months and I have bronchitis already.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:19 pm

the cost of living in Korea is SO not less. Groceries in particular cost twice to three times as much. And getting a deposit for an apartment is impossible unless you have like $50k cash.


Having lived in Seoul last year, I can say that is very much not the case. The cost of living is much much cheaper than a major American city. My total compensation last year would equate to less than $30k and I saved $18k. The only things that seemed more expensive are Western products, so if you're sustenance relies on steak and jack daniels, I guess you're COL might be higher. Apartments in Seoul do require a much larger deposit than they do in American cities, however a decent studio will require around $10k cash, not $50k in my experience.

One thing: Seoul is SO not a 24/7 city. No self-respecting 24/7 city can cut off the subway at midnight.


The subway shutdown at midnight can definitely be a pain, but taxis are much cheaper in Seoul than American cities. Having moved there from Manhattan, I agree that Seoul doesn't hold a candle to NYC in terms of nightlife. That being said, I do think its comparable to most American cities in that department (say Boston).

Air quality sucks here, especially if there are sandstorms in China.


Agreed.

QoL still sucks in Korea. Believe me, I'm here. Can't wait to get out.


What one thinks of a city is obviously subjective, but the majority of expats that I met who live in Korea enjoy the city and quality of life. Seoul has better public transportation, lower COL, lower taxes and is much safer than most American cities. That being said, it isn't nearly as cosmopolitan of a major American city. I will say that the people I've met who don't like it tend to HATE it, so I wouldn't recommend taking an offer over there if you haven't had experience there or at least in East Asia.

In my opinion a major American city will offer a higher quality of life at a higher cost of living. I'll be heading back for another year there soon, but I wouldn't want to settle down there.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Kohinoor » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:24 pm

motiontodismiss wrote:Korean legal market is fucked. half the newly licensed lawyers are unemployed and unlike in the US the bar in Korea is hard.

One thing: Seoul is SO not a 24/7 city. No self-respecting 24/7 city can cut off the subway at midnight. And btw, the cost of living in Korea is SO not less. Groceries in particular cost twice to three times as much. And getting a deposit for an apartment is impossible unless you have like $50k cash.

As far as hours go, there's a lot of facetime and a lot of sitting around on your ass surfing youtube. Koreans work the longest hours of any OECD country but it ranks in the bottom for productivity. So a lot of sitting around doing bitchwork or no work at all for a really long time. Doesn't help that North Korea is a suburb of Seoul. Koreans are emigrating in droves. There's a reason for that. The population is declining. The population is getting old. The National Assembly here wants to expand the already huge welfare state (which means more taxes or bankruptcy-old people get everything for free and someone will have to pay for it). Unemployment for young college grads is like 8% compared to 3.3% for overall. Smaller population=>smaller economy=>more emigration=>smaller population, repeat ad nauseam. Whoever said Korea was a good country to live in was full of shit, I'm sorry. If the schools here taught English properly, this country would only have old people.

The top Korean firm pays locals like $64k base. I don't see pay for expats being more than twice that. Also management practices at Korean corporations are totally sketch. Samsung, internally, apparently is run like some fly by night operation.

In conclusion, totally not recommended.
The subway in Beijing shuts down by midnight...

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:07 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
the cost of living in Korea is SO not less. Groceries in particular cost twice to three times as much. And getting a deposit for an apartment is impossible unless you have like $50k cash.


Having lived in Seoul last year, I can say that is very much not the case. The cost of living is much much cheaper than a major American city. My total compensation last year would equate to less than $30k and I saved $18k. The only things that seemed more expensive are Western products, so if you're sustenance relies on steak and jack daniels, I guess you're COL might be higher. Apartments in Seoul do require a much larger deposit than they do in American cities, however a decent studio will require around $10k cash, not $50k in my experience.


A few things I'd like to note:

Apartments can be found with a lower key money deposit, but this is not the norm. Most places will require a $50k+ deposit, especially the nicer, more spacious places that would be suitable for a family. In general, however, rent is fairly reasonable.

In terms of food, if you can subsist solely on rice and traditional Korean vegetables (both of which have become much more expensive over the years - rice actually being more expensive in Korea than in the States), you'll be doing just fine financially. If you want to eat meat or a wider variety of vegetables (i.e., want to eat similar to the way you would eat if you were living in the States), however, prepare to pay a lot more money. This is similar to what the above poster said, but the steak and Jack Daniels comment makes it sound like it's going to be reasonable unless you plan on living a decadent lifestyle, which is not the case in my opinion as most fruits, vegetables, and meats are indeed 2-3x more expensive in Korea.

In both cases, I would say that Seoul is more expensive for what you get but cheaper overall because you learn to subsist on less (less comfortable, less spacious accommodations and less "comfortable" food). You can save a lot here, as noted, but the lifestyle may not be as overly comfortable as it is in the States. It can be a great place to live, overall - you just have to adjust your expectations and the way you live.

NOTE: I've been living in Korea for the past 6-7 years and work for a medium-sized company not involved with legal work.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:05 pm

I would say that Seoul is more expensive for what you get but cheaper overall because you learn to subsist on less (less comfortable, less spacious accommodations and less "comfortable" food)


There's a lot of truth to that. I didn't mean to mislead the OP into thinking that only decadent lifestyles would be more expensive, thanks for pointing that out. While beef is indeed 2-3 times expensive as well as things like wine, I didn't find chicken or even pork to be much more than what I was used to paying in the states, but perhaps coming from the Northeast I have a higher baseline in mind for COL. Other than cutting out beef I didn't feel like I changed my diet too much, but perhaps my diet was already fairly close to what the typical Korean eats.

And it's not shocking to me that a larger family-sized place in the nicer parts of Seoul would require more money down, I was just trying to point out that if you are fresh out of school, you don't need to have 50k in the bank to find a place to live in Seoul. I have a few friends who payed 5k down (for fairly dumpy places) and everyone else I talked to put down 10k, although they are likely not up to what most future attorneys on this board expect to be living in.

Maybe my view of the COL in Seoul is skewed, but over the holidays I was talking to friends who make 15-20k more than I did last year who were unable to save anything while not leading drastically different lifestyles.

In both cases, I would say that Seoul is more expensive for what you get but cheaper overall because you learn to subsist on less (less comfortable, less spacious accommodations and less "comfortable" food). You can save a lot here, as noted, but the lifestyle may not be as overly comfortable as it is in the States. It can be a great place to live, overall - you just have to adjust your expectations and the way you live.


Agreed, I think living in Seoul leads to lower QOL and also a lower COL for a lot of people. And for disclosure I should not that I'm not nor will be working in the legal industry either.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:39 am

I spent 3 years in lower Manhattan for college, and I'm utterly shocked to bits every time I go grocery shopping in Busan (which has a much lower CoL than Seoul). Decent ice cream costs $15/pint (Korean ice cream tastes like shit). American beef costs $20/pound. Decent coffee costs $15/pound. If I fill a shopping bag with groceries, I spend $50 minimum. The one time I went above $50 in Manhattan, I had 4 OVERFLOWING bags of food at $75. That's before mentioning the stuff I CAN'T find here, including but not limited to fresh herbs, some of the more esoteric veggies, decent ethnic foods at decent prices, etc.

And don't get me started on finding clothes that fit. I'm a Large/34x32 and I have to pay a 50% premium at H&M in Seoul. And that's not counting the airfare I have to pay to get there.

Public transit in Seoul and especially Busan is a joke. The roads are always congested, the subway takes forever due to not having any express trains, and besides I can't take the subway because I have bronchitis (I get so physically sick I have to go to the bathroom and throw up). I'd much rather be on a 4/5 train that takes me from Union Square to Grand Central in 3 minutes than a shiny Line 2 train.

And that's all before considering the fact that Seoul is boring. It's NOWHERE near the level of cosmopolitan or interesting that New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, etc. etc. are. I admit, having gone to college in NYC my standards are pretty high.

I spent $300-500 a month on groceries in Manhattan. I spend over $1,000 a month here in Korea and I significantly changed my diet (for the worse) to match more closely what a typical Korean eats. This in a country whose GDP per capita is less than half that of the US. Enough said.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:44 am

Kohinoor wrote:
motiontodismiss wrote:Korean legal market is fucked. half the newly licensed lawyers are unemployed and unlike in the US the bar in Korea is hard.

One thing: Seoul is SO not a 24/7 city. No self-respecting 24/7 city can cut off the subway at midnight. And btw, the cost of living in Korea is SO not less. Groceries in particular cost twice to three times as much. And getting a deposit for an apartment is impossible unless you have like $50k cash.

As far as hours go, there's a lot of facetime and a lot of sitting around on your ass surfing youtube. Koreans work the longest hours of any OECD country but it ranks in the bottom for productivity. So a lot of sitting around doing bitchwork or no work at all for a really long time. Doesn't help that North Korea is a suburb of Seoul. Koreans are emigrating in droves. There's a reason for that. The population is declining. The population is getting old. The National Assembly here wants to expand the already huge welfare state (which means more taxes or bankruptcy-old people get everything for free and someone will have to pay for it). Unemployment for young college grads is like 8% compared to 3.3% for overall. Smaller population=>smaller economy=>more emigration=>smaller population, repeat ad nauseam. Whoever said Korea was a good country to live in was full of shit, I'm sorry. If the schools here taught English properly, this country would only have old people.

The top Korean firm pays locals like $64k base. I don't see pay for expats being more than twice that. Also management practices at Korean corporations are totally sketch. Samsung, internally, apparently is run like some fly by night operation.

In conclusion, totally not recommended.
The subway in Beijing shuts down by midnight...


Then Beijing is not a 24/7 city either. The only true 24/7 city I know of is New York.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Eugenie Danglars » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:08 am

Alright, if you want an American standard of living, go to America. It is not Korea's fault that you have unrealistic expectations. If you are not Korea sized, you will not fit into Korean clothes. (By the way, it's almost certainly cheaper to have clothes tailormade in a small family outfit. I guarantee you it's cheaper than FLYING to another city to by imported clothes.)

Also, regarding other cost of living things, you're doing it wrong. If you buy imported food, of course it's going to cost a lot. It's cool if you want to keep up your coffee habit in Korea, but expect to pay for the luxury. It's like if I want to keep up my buckwheat Korean tea habit in America, it's going to cost me.

Finally, if your housing options all require 50k deposits, maybe examine a different neighborhood. You can easily do better.

Oh, and very few American cities have 24/7 subways.

If you want to live like a baller, that's legit- but expect to pay for it.

tl;dr: You have unreasonable expectations and no legitimate cause for complaint. Get over it.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:33 am

Expecting to be able to eat without going bankrupt is NOT "unreasonable". Korea's a terrible place to live. There's a reason so many Koreans work so hard to emigrate to the US/Canada/Aus/NZ/anywhere they can get a visa. Get over it. Air pollution. Skyrocketing cost of living. Falling real wages. Skyrocketing unemployment.

If you eat nothing but rice and Kimchi yeah your CoL will be lower. However if you took your head out of your ass and actually compared prices, you will see that food costs a lot more. Expecting to eat a few servings of meat a week is NOT "unreasonable". Expecting to eat a good mix of fruits and vegetables is NOT "unreasonable". Expecting to eat a few servings of dairy products a week is also very reasonable. Like I said, if you eat nothing but ramen your CoL will most certainly be cheaper but not if you don't want to suffer from malnutrition and have a whole fuckload of other problems caused by eating 40x your daily recommended serving of sodium in 6 months.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:46 am

Eugenie Danglars wrote:Alright, if you want an American standard of living, go to America. It is not Korea's fault that you have unrealistic expectations. If you are not Korea sized, you will not fit into Korean clothes. (By the way, it's almost certainly cheaper to have clothes tailormade in a small family outfit. I guarantee you it's cheaper than FLYING to another city to by imported clothes.)

Also, regarding other cost of living things, you're doing it wrong. If you buy imported food, of course it's going to cost a lot. It's cool if you want to keep up your coffee habit in Korea, but expect to pay for the luxury. It's like if I want to keep up my buckwheat Korean tea habit in America, it's going to cost me.

Finally, if your housing options all require 50k deposits, maybe examine a different neighborhood. You can easily do better.

Oh, and very few American cities have 24/7 subways.

If you want to live like a baller, that's legit- but expect to pay for it.

tl;dr: You have unreasonable expectations and no legitimate cause for complaint. Get over it.


The thing about Korea is that even non-imported foods, including Korean rice, Korean meats, Korean milk, and often Korean fruits/vegetables, are priced at a premium. It's not just luxury or imported goods but also regular foods that one has to be prepared to pay more for.

As for the 50k deposits, as has been said, there are places that require less, but to live in the type of apartment that most Koreans live in (in other words, to maintain a Korean, not American, standard of living) in Seoul, you are almost definitely going to have to put at least 50k down. This obviously isn't the case if you're just out of college and fine with a run-down studio, but for a young professional (especially with a family) looking to live like other young professionals in Seoul, there is not much to be had with less than 50k key money, regardless of the neighborhood.

With all that said, I don't think the living situation in Korea is that bad. As you've noted, a lot of it is about one's expectations and what type of lifestyle one is prepared to live. And I agree that Seoul is a 24/7 city based on the number of people I see still out having fun at 7, 8, and 9 in the morning, how late many places stay open (even if they also open up late), and also because, even without the subway, taxis are cheap and prevalent.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:46 am

Why are people saying Seoul is expensive? I saved about $12K on a $25k salary there. I never even cooked my own food. If it's expensive...you're doing it wrong.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby iskim88 » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:49 am

I think the thread has been going awry, so let me answer OP for what little knowledge i have of the Korean legal market.

The typical course for an elite Korean lawyer goes sth like this: 1. go to SNU (Seoul National University), major in law (this is changing as Korea is moving from undergrad law majors to law schools), 2. pass the bar exam (insanely difficult), 3. go into the DA's office and work for a few years, 4. get a JD in America in one of the top-notch schools (or LLM even), come back to Korea as a trilingual (preferably quadru-lingual) with more than just proficient language skills in English, Korean, and preferably Japanese, Chinese and Russian, 5. and go into one of the major law firms in South Korea such as Kim & Jang as a lawyer.

Usually South Korean law firms are extremely exclusive to the ppl who have graduated from a certain university (SNU, Yonsei, Korea U, etc) and because there are a lot of ppl with both the Korean law certificate AND JD from the US, they prefer these ppl over just regular JDs. From what I've heard, a lot of the ppl who went to Korean firms as American lawyers end up doing mundane translation work.

I personally think that the future of the Korean legal market is more pessimistic than optimistic as the market size itself has limits with the current population. But who knows what's going to happen in the post-FTA world where Korea is turning into (or already has turned into) the 51st state of the US... (as you might have realized from the recent purchases of F-35s... useless shits)

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby tlslsnlsp » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:29 am

motiontodismiss wrote:I spent 3 years in lower Manhattan for college, and I'm utterly shocked to bits every time I go grocery shopping in Busan (which has a much lower CoL than Seoul). Decent ice cream costs $15/pint (Korean ice cream tastes like shit). American beef costs $20/pound. Decent coffee costs $15/pound. If I fill a shopping bag with groceries, I spend $50 minimum. The one time I went above $50 in Manhattan, I had 4 OVERFLOWING bags of food at $75. That's before mentioning the stuff I CAN'T find here, including but not limited to fresh herbs, some of the more esoteric veggies, decent ethnic foods at decent prices, etc.

And don't get me started on finding clothes that fit. I'm a Large/34x32 and I have to pay a 50% premium at H&M in Seoul. And that's not counting the airfare I have to pay to get there.

Public transit in Seoul and especially Busan is a joke. The roads are always congested, the subway takes forever due to not having any express trains, and besides I can't take the subway because I have bronchitis (I get so physically sick I have to go to the bathroom and throw up). I'd much rather be on a 4/5 train that takes me from Union Square to Grand Central in 3 minutes than a shiny Line 2 train.

And that's all before considering the fact that Seoul is boring. It's NOWHERE near the level of cosmopolitan or interesting that New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, etc. etc. are. I admit, having gone to college in NYC my standards are pretty high.

I spent $300-500 a month on groceries in Manhattan. I spend over $1,000 a month here in Korea and I significantly changed my diet (for the worse) to match more closely what a typical Korean eats. This in a country whose GDP per capita is less than half that of the US. Enough said.


lol sounds like you need to get out of Korea. I lived in Seoul a few years and I found it plenty "cosmopolitan or interesting" but that's totally subjective... Though I'm surprised your so surprised it's expensive to eat American ice cream, American beef, "decent" coffee, large clothes at a foreign brand, etc. in Korea. What's keeping you there if you're so unhappy?

iskim88 wrote:I think the thread has been going awry, so let me answer OP for what little knowledge i have of the Korean legal market.

The typical course for an elite Korean lawyer goes sth like this: 1. go to SNU (Seoul National University), major in law (this is changing as Korea is moving from undergrad law majors to law schools), 2. pass the bar exam (insanely difficult), 3. go into the DA's office and work for a few years, 4. get a JD in America in one of the top-notch schools (or LLM even), come back to Korea as a trilingual (preferably quadru-lingual) with more than just proficient language skills in English, Korean, and preferably Japanese, Chinese and Russian, 5. and go into one of the major law firms in South Korea such as Kim & Jang as a lawyer.

Usually South Korean law firms are extremely exclusive to the ppl who have graduated from a certain university (SNU, Yonsei, Korea U, etc) and because there are a lot of ppl with both the Korean law certificate AND JD from the US, they prefer these ppl over just regular JDs. From what I've heard, a lot of the ppl who went to Korean firms as American lawyers end up doing mundane translation work.

I personally think that the future of the Korean legal market is more pessimistic than optimistic as the market size itself has limits with the current population. But who knows what's going to happen in the post-FTA world where Korea is turning into (or already has turned into) the 51st state of the US... (as you might have realized from the recent purchases of F-35s... useless shits)


Thanks for the turn back towards my original question. I appreciate everyone's 2 cents on life in Seoul, but I'm more interested in the legal market in Seoul. Having lived in Seoul a few years I find both the social life and cost of living more than satisfying... whether I will be able to find a satisfying job as a JD is the type of info I'm looking for.

It's somewhat unsettling that there's a bunch of Korean natives who have JDs and speak perfect English... How could a normal US JD possibly be competitive compared to them? I definitely don't want to end up doing "mundane translation work" lol. Any other posters have their two cents on the Korean legal market?

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:16 pm

motiontodismiss wrote:One thing: Seoul is SO not a 24/7 city. No self-respecting 24/7 city can cut off the subway at midnight.


Metros in Berlin and Paris stop running around 1am. But hey, I guess you know what you are talking about.

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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby Kohinoor » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:34 pm

motiontodismiss wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
motiontodismiss wrote:Korean legal market is fucked. half the newly licensed lawyers are unemployed and unlike in the US the bar in Korea is hard.

One thing: Seoul is SO not a 24/7 city. No self-respecting 24/7 city can cut off the subway at midnight. And btw, the cost of living in Korea is SO not less. Groceries in particular cost twice to three times as much. And getting a deposit for an apartment is impossible unless you have like $50k cash.

As far as hours go, there's a lot of facetime and a lot of sitting around on your ass surfing youtube. Koreans work the longest hours of any OECD country but it ranks in the bottom for productivity. So a lot of sitting around doing bitchwork or no work at all for a really long time. Doesn't help that North Korea is a suburb of Seoul. Koreans are emigrating in droves. There's a reason for that. The population is declining. The population is getting old. The National Assembly here wants to expand the already huge welfare state (which means more taxes or bankruptcy-old people get everything for free and someone will have to pay for it). Unemployment for young college grads is like 8% compared to 3.3% for overall. Smaller population=>smaller economy=>more emigration=>smaller population, repeat ad nauseam. Whoever said Korea was a good country to live in was full of shit, I'm sorry. If the schools here taught English properly, this country would only have old people.

The top Korean firm pays locals like $64k base. I don't see pay for expats being more than twice that. Also management practices at Korean corporations are totally sketch. Samsung, internally, apparently is run like some fly by night operation.

In conclusion, totally not recommended.
The subway in Beijing shuts down by midnight...


Then Beijing is not a 24/7 city either. The only true 24/7 city I know of is New York.
The clubs in Beijing close at like 8 in the morning.

motiontodismiss
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:54 pm

worldtraveler wrote:Why are people saying Seoul is expensive? I saved about $12K on a $25k salary there. I never even cooked my own food. If it's expensive...you're doing it wrong.


It costs more to cook at home than to eat out. And btw I don't trust the smaller mom and pop outfits enough to think that they haven't marked Chinese beef or something as Australian.

As has been said before, Korean (or gooksan in Korean) food (or anything else, especially plane tickets on Korean/Asiana where they compete with foreign carriers) is MORE expensive than the imported stuff. Especially food. BTW US beef is the LEAST expensive of US, Australian and Korean beef. If you don't believe me, go compare prices at Costco.
Last edited by motiontodismiss on Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

motiontodismiss
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:55 pm

tlslsnlsp wrote:It's somewhat unsettling that there's a bunch of Korean natives who have JDs and speak perfect English... How could a normal US JD possibly be competitive compared to them? I definitely don't want to end up doing "mundane translation work" lol. Any other posters have their two cents on the Korean legal market?


None of them want to go back to Korea. Besides, if the top firms are reflective of most Korean corporations and workplaces, the work will be mostly mundane bullshit. Koreans spend very little time actually being productive and most of their time dealing with lazy bureaucrats.
Last edited by motiontodismiss on Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

motiontodismiss
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motiontodismiss » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:59 pm

iskim88 wrote:I personally think that the future of the Korean legal market is more pessimistic than optimistic as the market size itself has limits with the current [declining and aging] population. But who knows what's going to happen in the post-FTA world where Korea is turning into (or already has turned into) the 51st state of the US... (as you might have realized from the recent purchases of F-35s... useless shits)


The US should just annex Korea and be done with it. For all intents and purposes Korea is the 51st state, let's just make it official.

My $0.02: the economy's going to keep shrinking, not expanding, as low birth rates, high emigration rates, and as people get better at foreign languages and get sick of the rigid, hierarchical culture that stifles individuality and innovation, and start taking their money (and ideas) elsewhere, populations will decline to a point where the economically productive population cannot support the economically unproductive (old people and children). Not to mention the welfare state the national assembly wants to shove down everyone's throats (higher taxes, further shrinking pie and massive capital flight). KOSPI fell 150 points or something the other day-mass capital flight.

sperry
Posts: 137
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby sperry » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:04 am

motiontodismiss wrote:
iskim88 wrote:I personally think that the future of the Korean legal market is more pessimistic than optimistic as the market size itself has limits with the current [declining and aging] population. But who knows what's going to happen in the post-FTA world where Korea is turning into (or already has turned into) the 51st state of the US... (as you might have realized from the recent purchases of F-35s... useless shits)


The US should just annex Korea and be done with it. For all intents and purposes Korea is the 51st state, let's just make it official.

My $0.02: the economy's going to keep shrinking, not expanding, as low birth rates, high emigration rates, and as people get better at foreign languages and get sick of the rigid, hierarchical culture that stifles individuality and innovation, and start taking their money (and ideas) elsewhere, populations will decline to a point where the economically productive population cannot support the economically unproductive (old people and children). Not to mention the welfare state the national assembly wants to shove down everyone's throats (higher taxes, further shrinking pie and massive capital flight). KOSPI fell 150 points or something the other day-mass capital flight.



It sounds like you should probably consider moving . . .

motownsaint
Posts: 40
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Re: Let's talk about Seoul, Korea

Postby motownsaint » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:58 am

motiontodismiss wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:Why are people saying Seoul is expensive? I saved about $12K on a $25k salary there. I never even cooked my own food. If it's expensive...you're doing it wrong.


It costs more to cook at home than to eat out. And btw I don't trust the smaller mom and pop outfits enough to think that they haven't marked Chinese beef or something as Australian.

As has been said before, Korean (or gooksan in Korean) food (or anything else, especially plane tickets on Korean/Asiana where they compete with foreign carriers) is MORE expensive than the imported stuff. Especially food. BTW US beef is the LEAST expensive of US, Australian and Korean beef. If you don't believe me, go compare prices at Costco.


What the heck are you talking about?

You can eat out in any city in Korea, 3 meals a day, with almost limitless options, for well under $15 (if you like all kinds of Korean food, then under $10). As someone said above, you're doing it wrong. Average incomes aren't high in Korea, and half of that income goes to educating children, so if food and housing was as expensive as you make out it'd be a non-functioning economy.

If you're complaining about the price of American food, then of course it's expensive. Korean food is expensive in the United States, too, you know.

OP, take motiontodismiss's advice with a generous grain of salt. He sounds like he's got a huge chip on his shoulder towards Korea. To be fair, if you asked me about living in New York City, I'd have many of the same things to say about it. But holy mother of God do I hate that city.

EDIT: I almost forgot OP's question.

One of my pals worked at Kim & Chang a few summers ago. I don't recall all our conversation on his experience there, but I do recall that he said the associate he'd been paired with was worked near to death (the guy slept at the office regularly). Big firms like Kim & Chang are majorly involved with international deals, so many of the attorneys need to have very flexible schedules to service clients in very different time zones. Is this really different from Biglaw here in the US? Probably not, but I reckon it might be a little more stressful in a Korean office environment.




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