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August - 2007 - issue > Destination Korea
South-Korea---Rising-Eastern-Tiger
Priya Pradeep
Thursday, August 2, 2007
The twenty-first century is witnessing a vigorous leap forward in the economies of eastern tigers — India and South Korea, critically driven by developments in the fields 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 growling 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 in Korea 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 says that of the 833 IT cards that had been issued as of September 2005, 435 were given to Indian workers.

Says Rahul Prabhakar, a technical communicator working with Samsung in Korea, “The remuneration to senior techies is around $4,000 per month. One can save a substantial amount, as the cost of living is only fairly high. Entering Korea as a foreign worker can have distinct advantages that even some natives don’t get to enjoy. One is provided with accommodation in most cases, plus two-way airfare to visit the country of origin once or twice a year.”

One of the eleven Research & Development centers of Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electronics India Software Operations (SISO) is located in Bangalore. Since its inception in 1996, it has contributed to the wireless, networking, convergence, digital and semi-conductor technologies 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 the Samsung workforce across various geographies. One of the initiatives of the India IRO is a 4-week internship program in Korea, followed by induction into Samsung Electronics, offered to PhD scholars. Selection of candidates aspiring to pursue education in Korea is also handled by IRO, in collaboration 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 commute between India and South Korea. We don’t stay here for a long time. Also, around 100 Indians working in Korea now on temporary projects may not want to work permanently here due to cultural and language differences.”

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 many others.”

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