Third day at Korea

I have been working with the engineers in a Korean company whose name starts with S. They are extremelly kind, mild hearted, and polite. Although they work at the top of the pyramid in Korean corporate culture, they are so humble enough not to show off what they have, what power they can exercise, how well being they are. I thought of the Japanese engineers in the prestigeous companies like Sxxy, Sxxxp, and Mxxxxxxxxi as well. Some are arrogant and living in a tiny world where everybody else listens to what they say and do what they want them to do, no doubt about it and it will apply to the Korean company as well. But generally, people in a big company are mild-hearted good citizens who enjoy their life and work, caring their families. I wonder why we got this stereotype of “Cold, tyrant big companies” and the reason might be that each decision takes too much time. No need to say about Japanese companies, but for this Korean companies although younger engineers had more authority than Japanese counterparts the restriction called corporate policy prevented them from doing any kind of experiment – not technical experiment (sometimes even that was thwarted – for example they cannot upgrade their PC by themselves. Upgrading anything from memory size to DVD player can be only done by MIS division and each PC is locked(!) so that nobody can touch it) – but the experiment to find a breakthrough to a complex problem. We came up with some shortcuts to solve the problem (like the engineers flying to Israel) but “no way” was the typical reply. Well, flying to Israel was not a good example, I admit.
This Korean company is now known to the world by its fast decision-making process, and every time some business magazines cover the survivor corporation of the fast-changing 21st century, they come up together with Sxxy. Even there, some (seemingly non important from outsiders) rules stop them for a couple of months. The result is an endless and fruitless trial & error in the existing method from eight o’clock to twelve in the midnight.
One engineer told me he was married two weeks ago, when this problem was already ongoing. Since then he hasn’t had honeymoon nor some reasonable amount of time to spend with his wife. During my stay, their schedule was:
1st day: 8:00 – 24:00 (I: 16:00-22:30)
2nd day: 9:00-23:00 (I:10:30-20:00)
3rd day: 8:00-8:00 next day – no sleep (I: 9:00-5:00 next day)
4th day: 8:00-? (I: 7:00-8:00 then went back to Japan)
This is the schedule of a newly wed man and a father of two yound daughters. I really felt guilty of letting them stuck in such a problem (which our company has some responsibility, if not all). He also told me before marriage he had met his wife only 13 times (good number), at Sunday afternoon. His new wife was complaining about his schedule during our session (she should), but there is little he can do about it.
The conclusion is: It is true they work at one of the prestigious companies in the world but I don’t envy them a bit, although I like them enormously in person. We should appreciate what we have now.