This blog has now moved to…

3 11 2010

http://www.thekoreaguide.com/





Me on Arirang TV – Korea

27 10 2010

Arirang TV approached me some time ago to do a small segment on Han River in the Today’s Blog section.

It was fun shooting all day with the Arirang Crew. And they made sure that I was having a very good time as you can see in my video (in spite¬†of my nervousness). Since this is my first video it gives me a lot of obvious hints on things I need to work on. Specially my voice.ūüôā

But I hope you guys enjoy this video and give me valuable feedback for my improvement.





Job opening with Aekyung Petrochemical

19 10 2010

The headquarters is located in Seoul, Korea. We are located throughout Korea and have factories in China and Vietnam along with a sales office in Hong Kong.

Aekyung Petrochemical belongs to the Aekyung Group, which consists of well known companies such as Jeju Air, AK Plaza, and Aekyung Industries (maker of 2080 tooth paste)

This October we celebrated our 40th anniversary and during this time we have grown from a small petrochemical producer to a multi-million dollar international corporation.

JOB I: RESEARCHER

Requirements:

Master’s degree in Biotechnology or Organic Synthesis

Fluency in English is required

Understanding of the Korean language is an advantage but it isn’t required

Also a good understanding of Microsoft office

Tasks:

  • Organic Synthesis
  • Fermentation of starch and cellulose
  • Analysis of synthesized material

The position is located in Daejun(ŽĆÄž†Ą) in our R&D center.

You will have to relocate to Daejun but we do provide housing there.

The salary is also negotiable.

JOB II: CHEMICAL ENGINEER

Requirements:

A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or chemical engineering

Fluency in English is required

Understanding of the Korean language is an advantage but it isn’t required

Also a good understanding of Microsoft office

Tasks:

  • Understand the production of our products
  • Improve our process of producing our products
  • Control the flow of production

The position is located in Ulsan(žöłžāį) at our factory.

You will have to relocate to Ulsan but we do provide housing there.

The salary is also negotiable.

For more information contact or web site at www.akp.co.kr

If you are interested in the position please send your resume to corey@aekyung.kr

The position will be closed at the end of November, 2010.





Utility for checking Bus Arrival Updates (online) in Seoul

19 10 2010

My friend Rob Taylor shared a very useful utility for checking the Bus Arrival Updates in Seoul for the bus stop near you. You can also check the start and end timing for a particular bus #. This is  a very important utility for anyone who uses bus for daily commute.

Click the link below to use the tool –
http://m.seoul.go.kr/eng/topmenu.do

Using this tool is very simple and let me explain this to you with an example.

If you are staying in Haebangchon then..

Step 1 – Enter the Bust station Number as 03150¬†(yes you have to know the bus station number) in the ‘Search by Station Number’ box inthe Bus Arrival Updates section.

Step 2 –¬†Then click the Bus Station Link (in this case Yongsan Hanshin, the name of the bus station)

Step 3 –¬†And then click the bus # for more details (in this case, #143, #401 & #406).





Travel Agencies in Korea

13 10 2010

The only way to experience the natural beauty of Korea is by travelling and visiting those places. My very intention of visiting Korea was to travel as far as I can in Korea and explore all the beautiful mountains, temples, islands and festivals of Korea.

Since Korea has 4 different seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter. And every season has something new to offer. So the last thing I wanted to do in Korea was to sit at home on weekends and watch downloaded movies. I made it a point to not waste my single weekend and visit every possible place in Seoul and Korea.

The Korean Tourism Organization also organizes festivals from time to time to attract tourists from various parts of the world. So every month you will be busy marking dates on your calendar about the festivals which you are planning to attend. Korea hosts some interesting festivals at various seasons like Mud festival, International Fireworks Festival, International Mask Dance Festival, Lantern Festival, Bullfighting Festival, Flower Festival, Cherry Blossom Festival, Green Tea Festival, Ceramic Festival, Medicinal Herb Festival, Martial Art Festival, Film Festival, Bird Festival and so on.  You can check the link here to view the complete list of festivals conducted throughout the year.

Some festivals are conducted in Seoul, whereas others are conducted in others parts of Korea. It would be easier for one to attend festivals where he/she resides. But to attend festivals in an altogether different part of Korea one would need the help of some Travel Agencies or Travelling groups who can arrange for such trips periodically.

Here are a few Travel Agencies and Travelling Groups in Korea where you can register yourself and take the benefit of travelling.

  • Seoul Hiking Group – operates through Facebook. After joining the group you will get regular messages from Warren about the upcoming events every weekend. Apart from Hiking tours Warren also covers major festivals like mud festival, lantern festival and Jeju. I have been regularly attending the hiking trips with Warren and every time I had an amazing experience and met so many wonderful people on the group from different parts of the world. When in Korea do not miss Seoul Hiking Group.
  • Korean Tourism Organization – has announced the year 2010-2012 as the visit Korea year. And to promote tourism in Korea they have come up with Free Shuttle Buses from Ganghwamun which takes you to important destinations in Korea like Gyeongju, Jeongju & Busan. You can visit their website to register yourself.
  • The Royal Asiatic Society – also organizes various cultural tours on weekends where they take you to historical places in Korea and at the same time enlighten you with knowledge on rich Korean culture,¬†Confucianism,¬†Buddhism and so on. You need to be a member of the society to get discounts on the tours. ¬†Apart from tours they also have lectures on Korean History and Culture.
  • Adverture Korea – is also popular amongst the foreign community here in Korea. And they conduct various adventure tours like paragliding, mountain biking, river rafting, bungee jumping apart from their normal tours. They also conduct Temple Stay tours for some one seeking inner peace and absolute bliss.
  • The other popular travel agencies are¬†Awesome Korea & Discover Korea.

If you are aware of any other Travel Agencies here in Korea and would like to feature it in this post then please add it in your comments and I’ll update this post accordingly.





Andong Mask Dance Festival

6 10 2010

Last weekend I had been to Andong to witness the Mask Dance Festival with Seoul Hiking Group led by Warren.  Andong is the spiritual capital of Korea and every year it holds the International Mask Dance festival during autumn. Andong became very popular after Queen Elizabeth II visited that place.

During our trip first we went to see the Hahoe Folk Village which is listed by the South Korean Government with UNESCO as the World Heritage site with Folk Village having real dwellers. We first saw the village from the top of the Buyongdae cliff to get a panoramic view of the entire Hahoe village. This is the best place to take pictures of the village. When you look down at Hahoe Village from the steep cliff, the village seems to be floating on the water just like lotus flowers as it is surrounded by the meandering Nakdonggang River.

Then we went to Byeongsan-seowon. This place was visited by George Bush and his son twice.  Seowon is a type of local academy during the Joseon Dynasty. It is one of the picturesque location in Korea surrounded by lush green mountains.

From there we went to a local restaurant to have Andong jjimdak. The restaurant was a landmark in itself as the owner of the restaurant is an artist of wooden carvings.  The restaurant garden was decorated by his wooden carvings giving a feel as if I was walking in a museum. We finally had some tasty jjimdak (boiled chicken and vegetables marinated in Korean soy sauce).

From there we headed to the interiors of Hahoe village to check the various Hahoe Mask Dance performance. We spend an entire evening there watching some performances in the village, taking pictures, shopping, experiencing village cuisines and finally witnessing the fire work display at the bank of the river.

Next day we headed to Andong City to witness the International Mask Dance Festival. There were artists performing from different countries like Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and other places. This place was like a fair with various shops selling soju, ginseng, mask souvenir, clothes and everything imaginable. It was a fun place with so many people.

Below are the pictures of this event.

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Checklist before accepting a job in Korea

29 09 2010

If you have received a job offer from Korea the first thing you would do is weigh the pros n cons of leaving your existing job and come to Korea of all the other places in the world. So the question is – Is it worth coming to Korea?

And to find the answer you might use Google or get in touch with someone who has been already worked here. Or try to find a online community of Indians working here.  Everybody would go out of their way to share their experience. Some might be positive and some might rather confuse you and make you think РIs it really worth coming to Korea?

So the question still remains and you have left with no choice but to figure it out for yourself. Or in other words do a proper groundwork before coming to Korea. Korea is no doubt a beautiful place with attractive mountains, pristine beaches and 4 different seasons. So one should not miss an opportunity to come to Korea. And to make the most out of it one should do a thorough groundwork.

I am sharing with you a very comprehensive checklist created by Mr. Prashant J Soni who is currently working as a Sr Design Engineer here in Korea.

Let me explain the things here in the easiest way my Indians can understand. With an example of a cricket match (Nope! I am not kidding here).
_______________________________________
I remember the match bwn IND-WI. Carl Hooper won the toss and elected to bat. They scored 314+. While India chased down the score very easily.

At Award presentation ceremony Ravi Shastri asked him – “The pitch was¬†batsman friendly, still u opted for batting. Don’t you feel your¬†decision was wrong?”

Hooper replied – “No decision is Right or Wrong!! If u take a decision,¬†stick to it. But before u take that Decision, make sure that you are¬†done with your ground-work. That’s where we lacked”!!!!
_______________________________________
This is exactly what all people do. The most important thing we miss is ‘groundwork’!!!!

Let me tell you what all ground work I did before accepting an offer in Korea:

1) I googled for Work culture in Korea. That prepared me mentally for¬†‘long-working’ hours.

2) Googling again told me that ‘Seoul’ is one of the 5-costliest cities¬†in the world and inflation is a-bit high here.

3) I mailed to all the friends in my network asking if they know anybody who ever been to Korea? I got 10-11 references.

4) Mailed all of them 10-12 questions asking about:

  • Indian Food Availability.
  • Working hours.
  • Taxation rules. And, as consultant committed falsely that tax is¬†0%, I made sure that I do not have to pay any tax back in India.
  • As 95% of companies provide accommodation, I asked for
  • approximate ‘Flat maintenance charges’ + ‘Water-n-Room Heating
  • expenses’ + ‘Society maintenance charges’ and ‘Internet/ TV/ phone/¬†mobile Connectivity charges’.
  • Cost of Transportation (to-from company and personal).
  • A rough estimate on eatables/ fruits spending.
  • Kid’s education (its extremely costly)….and some more.

5) Through one of my friend, who is International HR, got a rough¬†salary idea. She suggested me **most important** thing… To ask my¬†employer to provide me a ‘Sample Salary-Slip’ before signing the¬†Contract.

Indian consultants for Korea make a fool of us by telling that Tax is 0% and your Salary will be 2-times OR 2.5-times of Indian Salary without telling us anything about high cost-of-living!

Thanks to my employer, they provided me salary slip in KRW and U$D. After comparing it with the Indian consultant’s commitments’, there¬†was a difference of ~2000 U$D!

6) As I was not going to use food-coupons of my employers, I made sure to add KRW 5000 per day instead. Not much for him but fair enough for me.

7) Knowing about ‘Long working hours’ and ‘working on weekends’ helped¬†me to Crosscheck the rules with employer. My employer mentioned KRW¬†50,000 for working on weekends (which they actually give to their¬†regular employees).

<Important> If anything is NOT mentioned in Contract, it won’t be given
ūüėČ. U can always ask your employer for a ‘Rough Draft-of-Contract’ before u sign.

8) Through ‘Sample Salary Slip’ I got to know that, after end-of-year¬†when I will return back the ‘National Insurance Fund’ amount (may range¬†from $1000-$1500) can be deposited into your Indian Bank account. And¬†you need to fill a form for that in the last week, before you leave.

9) Though Employers mention in contract OR consultants commit that¬†“every company has IP-phone… and u can make any number of calls from office desk..blah…blah…” Its you who should make sure that u GET¬†this facility actually, through Contract.

10) My employer is very honest. However there may exist some employers¬†who *may* create problems in ur last month’s salary. Keep a Check on¬†that!

The Indian consultant started with and offer of 25K U$D p.a. (in-hand +¬†accommodation + all charges).. and after final offer his words were -“this is the biggest¬†offer any Korean company has made for your Experience-slot”.

…Not that much actually… But, I am really carefree about miscellaneous spending!

All I did was, I spent ~2-weeks in all this… Ground-Work!

Pardes ja rahe ho yaar… itna pataa karne ka to haq banta hai. Afterall, its my life… it me who is sacrificing!!!

On the contrary, when I reached here… I met 2-friends in Pyeongchon¬†who were looking frustrated as Consultant showed them a mirage of 2-2.5¬†times salary.¬†They didn’t negotiate for anything!!!!

Maintenance charges + Internet + Food + Room-Water heating charges all¬†these they were paying from their pocket and worked for free on¬†weekends as it wasn’t mentioned in contract! Unfortunately, they¬†breached the contract and went back to India on -ve notes!ūüė¶

<Final Notes>
1. It’s you who is sacrificing.
2. They ‘need’ you.

To contact Prashant J Soni you can mail him at: pj_soni@rediffmail.com
or view his profile on:  View Prashant Soni's profile on LinkedIn

So should you accept a job in Korea. Well let me summarize this with a quote from Bhautik Vaidya an Indian working in Korea –

The most positive side of employment  at South Korea is Indians are respected by Koreans than other places of world.

This is true. Indian Engineers are very much in demand here.