Going Solo In South Korea – The Land Of Morning Calm | International Business Experience
“Do not wait for opportunities to knock, go outside, find it and invite it to your door”
That’s what I did last year in October. I found a project in South Korea to get international exposure and travelled there solo. Yes, it was “The Crazy Experience”. The experience was very close to my heart because of my immense interest in the Korean Culture, especially their music. It was my dream to visit the country since long and I couldn’t believe it until I landed at Incheon International Airport. I remember when I reached there, it was raining heavily and there were signs of the typhoon. Nonetheless, I was very excited to start my project with the new beauty brand called “BIORACE”.
On the very first day of work, I lost my way to the office, but the CEO and the manager were kind enough to come all the way to this café nearby and guided me towards the office. That day started with a small tour around the office and a brief introduction with the whole team. It was funny to know that the next day is a holiday. Yes, it was “National Hangeul Day” so I got time to visit Namsangol Hanok Village (A village of traditional houses) in Seoul and also attended a K-pop concert.
This 2-week project was hectic and went by very quickly. I had individual meetings with the managers who told me about the company, its products, marketing strategies and overseas expansion. Luckily, I also got to visit the factory where they manufacture their skin care products. One thing which I realized that Koreans are very attached to their culture and language which even reflects in their buildings, houses, food and even the way they communicate i.e. they mostly talk in Korean even in a corporate environment and use minimal English. I was glad that I had invested some time in my undergrad learning the Korean language so I was able to interact with everyone. Even my final presentation was a mixed version, both Korean and English. During my stay there, I noticed some differences in the culture of Korean companies which are different from Indian companies –
- Age is a very important factor in their culture. In Korean companies, they have specified names for each other based on the seniority and age of the colleagues.
- Punctuality is very crucial. One cannot compromise on that. I knew how serious they are about being on time, so I tried my best to reach the office always on time.
- Another difference I noticed is how they lunch. In India, we usually bring food from our home or eat in the company cafeteria. But in Korea, we always use to go out, different places each day. I really liked this part of their culture because I got to try a lot of Korean dishes while being on the budget (Lunch was on the company)
Last day I had mixed feelings, was happy because I successfully completed this project and sad because I was leaving the beautiful country in the next two days. But my colleagues surprised me with a huge gift – a big box with each of their products. I was literally moved with their love and assure them to visit the company again in future and always stay in touch. It’s been 4 months and, I’m still in touch with them.
I consider this experience as one of the most beautiful ones in my life. It was indeed a whole cultural exposure. And I insist that all those reading this to never let go of any such opportunities in life, go beyond their comfort zone and create new experiences. Here I also share a tip: Did you wonder how I got this project? It was all because of “Guanxi” – A Chinese term which means personal contacts. I am sure MBA students know the importance of it more than anyone else. Not only did I successfully completed this international project and made long term relationships, but I also re-started my YouTube channel after coming back to India because I wanted to share this beautiful experience with the world. If my words didn’t inspire you enough, I hope my video will. So, go check out my channel “THE INDIAN YEOJA” where I have shared every aspect of this journey.