MIT Sloan - Korea Trip 본문
MIT Sloan - Korea TripNerd 2007. 11. 18. 00:19
MIT Sloan School의 공식행사로 자리잡게된 Korea Trip의 2007년 방문행사 후 슬론웹페이지에 게재된 내용이다. 외국학생에 비친 한국의 인상이 재밌는 글이다.
Korea was a very popular spring break destination this year from MIT Sloan. As part of the 2007 MIT Sloan Korea Trip, 41 Sloanies descended on Seoul as soon as SIP week ended. Korea was a great place to visit as one of the official MIT Sloan Trips offered this year. Although Korea is a fascinating place, it is an unlikely tourist destination and there is a language barrier. The benefits from the access we were granted as MIT Sloan students, orchestrated by the Korea Trip organizers, were simply phenomenal. As the trip was greatly oversubscribed, I consider myself lucky to have been able to participate.
In the weeks leading up to the trip, we learned about Korean culture and the business environment. Dr. Lee, an expert in North Korea relations at Harvard University's Korea Institute, lectured us on Korea's history and politics. We also learned some basic Korean words, and had presentations on the companies we were planning to visit. The trip organizers did a great job of making all the trip participants feel like we “owned” the trip together and were not simply “along for the ride.”
Once in Korea, we started our explorations with the capitol city, Seoul. We visited some of the major palaces and museums. On one day we took a trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. We donned hard hats to check out an underground tunnel that the North Koreans had built, to possibly launch a surprise attack on South Korea. Our guide showed us around the usual points of interest for the DMZ tour. However, our fearless leader and trip's lead organizer, Alex Min — a U.S. Marine who has served in Korea from time to time — gave us additional insights (to the extent our lack of security clearances permitted), such as how the tunnels were discovered and the reasons behind the use of certain types of land mines in the area.
For one of our company visits, LG Electronics (LGE) hosted our group at their headquarters. LGE's senior executives talked to us about the strategic, marketing, and branding considerations for a firm sandwiched between Japan, which has a slight technological edge, and China, which has a significant cost advantage. We also learned about LGE's efforts to change its corporate culture to compete more effectively in a global playing field. This included hiring outside talent, adopting English for internal communications, promoting more non-Koreans into senior ranks, and starting an internship program to recruit non-Korean MBAs from top business schools around the world — all relatively innovative practices for a traditional Korean company.
We also visited KTF — Korea's second largest mobile service provider — and got to play with the latest phones and services that we are unlikely to see in the U.S. for several years to come. It is hard to fathom the difference in the level of technology and consumer sophistication Koreans enjoy. Watching television on a cell phone is commonplace, and the average high school student sends 80 text messages per day!
On one night, we had dinner and drinks with the local MIT Sloan alumni and AdMITs to the Class of 2009, and Professor Pindyck made a surprise appearance. McKinsey also hosted a dinner for us and we got to meet several other MIT Sloan alumni. This showed me that the MIT Sloan community is very active in this part of the world.
Seoul is also known for its active nightlife. Whether you are looking for a hip-hop crowd, packed nightclubs, or trendy bars that serve $900 bottles of scotch and $12 glasses of Sprite, there is no shortage of options. Naturally, our commitment to promoting cross-cultural understanding compelled us to work late into the night on these activities.
Food, oh the food! Korean food is fantastic: beef grilled at your table, ginseng-chicken soup, or Korean style Sashimi. Every meal was delicious. And for recovering after a hard day's work (or night of over-indulgence), you have the Korean sauna experience. The one we visited was a huge six-story complex. In addition to the usual steam rooms and hot baths, it included an ice room, massage facility, restaurant, bar, movie theatre, and Internet café. Talk about stylish relaxation!
After Seoul, we took a plane to head down to Ulsan, Kyungju, and Pohang. At Ulsan, we visited Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the largest ship builder in the world whose CEO and vice chairman has a PhD from MIT. In Kyungju, we visited one of the ancient capitals of Korea. In Pohang, we toured Pohang Iron and Steel Company (POSCO), the third largest steel producer in the world. While we were in Ulsan, I asked one of the HHI employees (another MIT PhD in Ocean Engineering) over lunch how he had chosen his career. He said that while growing up he lived near a port, and liked to look at the big ships. When we got to tour the HHI shipyard, I understood immediately what he was talking about. Everything is massive. Unfinished ships revealing their internal structure, engine parts being machined, and cranes that move huge pieces around are incredibly impressive. These “old economy” industries contrast sharply with the high-tech companies that are more familiar to many of us, and yet, are at the cutting edge of advanced production techniques. In Pohang, in addition to touring the POSCO steel mill, we visited POSTECH, one of the premier technical universities in Korea, and the Pohang Accelerator Lab. It was interesting to talk to students and compare notes about their classes and recruiting opportunities.
We thoroughly enjoyed the 2007 MIT Sloan Korea trip. We bonded well and developed great friendships while learning the culture, history, and business of Korea. This trip was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were treated with the utmost hospitality and hosted very luxuriously wherever we went. I can only imagine the efforts of my classmates that organized the trip to put it together and have it run so smoothly. There are many memories from Korea that will be with me for years to come.
Note: This entry originally appeared in News @ MIT Sloan.