Working in Korea

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Anonymous User
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Working in Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:40 pm

Hello everyone
For those that has some insight info on Korean companies, if you had the chance to work with them where would that be? And why?

-Samsung
-LG
-SK
-CJ

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Working in Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:15 pm

As a general matter, Korean companies are tough working environment. Hours can be long, pay is lower than the US/Western Europe and there's a lot of peer pressure to drink/stay out with coworkers. For those looking for a "family-friendly environment" or a place with "work-life balance", it is definitely not the place to be.

All that being said, Korean companies can be fun to work at, if only because there's a certain camaraderie that comes from working such long hours and there is a heavy social aspect that's really ingrained into Korean culture. Thus, when I worked in Korea, I had lunch with my coworkers every single day (it was expected) and everyone came along, whether they particularly liked everyone or not (compare that to the U.S. where I usually only eat with those that I actually like socially outside of work). Not only that, but Korean companies often have interest clubs (similar to what you'd find in a university) where you can meet/engage with your coworkers. Finally, there's the famous/infamous/notorious company dinners (hwe-sik), which can go on all night, as you proceed from 1-cha to 2-cha and so on and so forth. Notably, because of this very social nature to work, your relationships with your coworkers are very important (I dare say possibly more important than your work product).

In terms of work experience, your mileage is going to vary depending on the type of work. I've known people who've worked as in-house legal counsel to large Korean companies and it's a mixed bag. On the one hand, you're an in-house counsel and so it's similar to an in-house gig in the U.S., where you're handling a wide variety of matters. On the other hand, if you're coming in as the U.S. lawyer, they're going to expect you to be the U.S. expert, even if you're a somewhat junior lawyer. Most people seem to stay for a couple years and then move back to the U.S., parleying the in-house counsel experience at a multinational company to an in-house counsel role somewhere else. Having a well-known company (Korean or anything else) can be a helpful line on a resume.

Of the four places you mentioned, taking a broad brush, they are probably going to all be pretty similar (see above). One thing to note about Korean companies is that they are usually broken down into more specific subsidiaries, with the founding family usually controlling all of the subsidiaries through a complicated, interconnected corporate org chart (e.g., for a long time, the Lee Family controlled the entire Samsung Group by owning the Samsung amusement park company (Everland)). Thus, you don't work for "Samsung", you work for "Samsung Electronics" or "Samsung SDI". Within a given Korean conglomerate, there are many different types of companies. You could work for the electronics division (which are well-known in the U.S.) and you could just as easily work for the insurance company, the consumer products company, the oil company etc. Thus, I suspect your mileage will vary depending on the industry. Finally, for background, CJ used to actually be a part of the Samsung Group, but it broke off because of a dispute between different members of the controlling family.

Best of luck.

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Working in Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:55 pm

Wow thanks for the info.
If I were to go back to the US in 5 years or so, which company would help me the most with my transitions? Or does that not matter?

Anonymous User
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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Working in Korea

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:08 pm

I used to work at Samsung Electronics in the US. Even though it was a US office, management was heavily centralized in their headquarters in Korea. Expect long hours of work and strange Korean hierarchy.

champloo

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Re: Working in Korea

Postby champloo » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:55 pm

Fwiw CJ usually pays less than the other three you mentioned.



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