Tuesday, August 07, 2007

South Korea - Rising Eastern Tiger

I was interviewed by two editors of The Smart Techie magazine for an article on South Korea. The Smart Techie is India's first career magazine for experienced technology professionals, reaching out to over 96,000 readers in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi.

The article is titled, "South Korea - Rising Eastern Tiger" (featured under the "Destination Korea" section.)
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South Korea — Rising Eastern Tiger

The 21st Century is seeing an upsurge in the economies of eastern tigers—India and South Korea critically driven by developments in the field of information technology (IT) and electronics. And the national animal of both these rising economies happens to be the Tiger.

At present South Korea is looking for Indian engineers to support its understaffed IT sector according to Korea IT SME and Venture Association (KOIVA). The association reveals that Indian engineers account for more than half of the foreign workers who have ‘IT cards’. The IT card is a recommendation issued by the Korean government to foreign workers with at least five years experience in the field of IT, which makes it easier for them to find employment in Korea.

KOIVA said that as of September 2005, 833 IT cards have been issued, among which 435 were given to Indian workers. 

Says Rahul Prabhakar, a technical communicator working with Samsung in Korea, “The remuneration to senior techies is around $4000 per month. Since the cost of living is low, one can save $3000 monthly.”

Samsung Electronics India Software Operations (SISO) is one of the eleven Research & Development centers of Samsung Electronics, housed in Bangalore. Since its inception in February 1996, it has contributed to different technologies in wireless, networking, convergence, digital and semiconductor in India. SISO also houses the India office of Samsung's International Recruitment Office (IRO) with an objective of recruiting Indian engineers to be part of Samsung workforce across various geographies. One of the initiatives of the India IRO includes offering to PhD Scholars a 4-week internship program in Korea followed by induction into Samsung Electronics. Selection of candidates aspiring to pursue education in Korea is also handled by IRO, under various scholarship programs of Samsung Electronics in coalition with some of the best universities in Korea like the Seoul National University, Sung Kyun Kwan University, Underwood International College, Yonsei University and Korea University Business School. 

Darth, an Indian software engineer working at Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor business department, said he came to Korea to broaden his knowledge of computers. He got promoted two years after he entered Samsung Electronics in 2001. The company intends to offer scholarships to his children when they are enrolled at an international school in Korea.

However, Joe Lawrence, a software engineer from Samsung's Indian branch gives a low down, “We work project-by-project, so we move between India and South Korea. We don't stay here for a long time. Also, around 100 Indians now working in Korea are here on temporary projects, and may not want to work permanently in the country due to cultural and language differences. Not many of people here speak very good English though we can still communicate.”

However, the communication impediment has not stopped Indians who want to experiment with their careers. Providing employment are other Korean firms like LG, Hyundai and SK Telecom who recruit Indian engineers. Prabhakar voices, “Bangalore is too crowded with people and traffic. The Korean topography looks like a dream filled with greenery. I moved to Korea grabbing the opportunity to work at the electronic giant’s headquarters. So have others.”