South Korean mobile messenger service provider Kakao is set to acquire Internet portal site Daum earlier this year in a 3.1 trillion won ($3.03 billion) deal after shareholders approved the merger, Reuters reports. For employees at Daum, though, it’s going to be more than just new ownership they’ll be taking on.
Last Wednesday, South Korea’s No. 2 Internet search company said that its workers will all adopt English names, following Kakao’s lead in taking on an anti-hierarchical work culture.
“Daum and Kakao have reviewed together how employees of the merged firm will address one another, and after much discussion, we’ve decided to follow the case at Kakao where workers call each other by English names,” Kang Yuk-yeong, a communications official at Daum, told Yonhap News.
“Some 1,600 employees currently at Daum will choose a new English name for this, and by doing so, we hope to further promote the two firms’ work ethics that prioritize openness and active participation as well as create a synergy effect between the two groups.”
Workplace hierarchy is present in some manner or form in any corporate culture, but respect for authority figures is usually a more prevalent issue in the Korean workplace. It can go from something small, like using both hands when presenting and receiving a business card, to addressing others by their family name and title.
However, workplace cultures in smaller and newer technology companies in Korea has apparently been shifting more from one influenced by rigid Confucianism to one more casual and worker-friendly. Workers in the latter environment would ideally be more open to communicating more, sharing thoughts and judgments without any worry.
“Each company has a different culture. I’m not saying which one is better or worse, it’s just different. But I would say using English names, without titles, makes me and my colleagues feel more comfortable when we share and suggest new ideas,” a Kakao official, named Dallas, told the Korea Times.
Daum had already been asking their workers to call each other by their Korean name with nim at the end in a much more casual, so the only other difficulty they may run into may be finding a name to adopt.
“Of course, it may feel weird or awkward for people to call each other by a foreign name, but we’ll see how this system settles in when business begins at the new Daum-Kakao in October,” Kang said.
Whenever a movie set in the future premieres, it’s always interesting to what the director envisions society will look like decades or centuries from today. In such films, the future almost always is either littered with death and destruction (TerminatorSalvation or Rise of the Planet of the Apes) or saturated with stunning neo-modern skyscrapers and superstructures (Cloud Atlas or The Fifth Element).
Hollywood’s take on futuristic architecture has been on display for quite a while, but for the first time ever, people now get the chance to see how a North Korean architect envisions buildings of the future. Currently on exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy is “Commissions for Utopia,” which depicts futuristic buildings designed by one of the country’s brightest young architects—someone who Wired reported has little exposure to modern architecture:
In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, “architect” is a government job. There are no private projects, and young North Korean architects come out of school with only a faint understanding of the field as it exists outside their deeply isolated country. Recently, however, one young architect was given a rare chance at an outside commission by a client named Nick Bonner.
Bonner, a British filmmaker and founder of Koryo Tours, a travel company responsible for more than half of all the foreign tourists who visit the country, commissioned the architect to produce illustrations of futuristic tourist destinations for the world’s most isolated country. Bonner is convinced North Korea is bound to become a popular travel spot. According to Reuters, Koryo Tours has experienced “a tenfold rise in business in the past decade” and an estimated 6,000 Westerners travel every year from 700 a decade ago.
Wired magazine said the speculative drawings “could pass as concept art for the Tomorrowland section of Disney’s theme parks.” Here’s a sampling of the unnamed architect’s futuristic renderings:
Sustainability was a key theme for the artwork, and this self-sustaining silk cooperative receives energy from solar panels, wind turbines and watermills. The buildings are reminiscent of a “Korean hand wheel, which is used for weaving.” The randomly interspersed helicopter pads, cable lifts and the infusion of nature show why this location might be a pleasant destination for “workers of the countryside.”
Nature surrounds this “aerial hotel,” which emphasizes open space for customers—that is, as long as they’re not afraid of heights. The uniquely cone-shaped gliding mechanical object on the top left appears to be a futuristic helicopter.
One of the things that Seoul is known for is its sheer number of apartments that crowd the city. Well, in this image, North Korea seems to have solved the overcrowded atmosphere created by blocky apartments by constructing immense conifer-shaped buildings interconnected by cone-shaped tubes, which are apparently ski runs. Self-sustainability once again is evidenced by the solar panels, and interestingly enough, helicopters make another appearance on top of the apartments.
Forget the old RV trucks, travel in style inside you very own flying house, lifted into the air by a single propeller.
What appears at first to be a broken Rubik’s cube is a riverside guesthouse called “The Bird’s Nest.” The house is made up mostly of the surrounding woods and looks as if each pillar or section is its own bird nest. The horizontal pillars symbolize the connection of the house to its surroundings, and so a harmonic relationship between modernity and nature is once again established.
“Life’s good” when you can turn off your transparent TV and have it blend in with your wall. Or when you can roll up your TV and carry it to another room.
South Korean electronics giant LG—which stands for its motto “Life’s Good”—has announced that it has developed a prototype of an 18-inch television that is transparent and another TV that is so thin it can be rolled up like a taquito for your convenience, according to the Wall Street Journal blog.
“We are confident that by 2017, we will successfully develop an ultra HD (high-definition) flexible and transparent OLED panel of more than 60 inches,” said Kang In-Byung, LG Display’s head of research & development, as reported by the WSJ blog.
What does this mean for the consumer? Moving will be much easier, lunch breaks more entertaining, and the gigantic television screens we love today will become less of a hulking presence in the living room.
The transparent TV relies on OLED technology, using an organic light-emitting diode. The company’s first OLED TVs debuted early last year. Since OLED does not require a backlight, it allows screens to be brighter, more energy efficient, and unlike the previous generation’s plasma TVs with glass displays, OLED won’t be susceptible to glare, according to a report by Fox News.
The rollable TV is made from polyimide film, a material that’s much thinner than conventional plastic and gives it the flexibility needed to roll it into a tight cylinder, ABC News reported. Once rolled up, the latter has a 2.4-inch diameter, but that apparently does not take away from the high-definition display.
Say anyong to television sets and anyong to mobile devices. Smartphones and tablet PCs are taking over as the dominant way to watch TV in South Korea.
South Koreans are scaling down how many TVs they own, according to a study conducted by the Korea Information Society Development Institute. There has been a growing trend of consumers who have tossed their outdated TVs due to the end of analog broadcasting in 2012 and never bothered to buy a new one.
Instead, they are finding the convenience of portable technology to be more desirable.
In a recent door-to-door nationwide survey conducted by the institute, among the 5,000 participant households, that 77 percent of households own only one television set, which increased from 71 percent in 2012, and 69 percent in 2011.
The institute also reported that only 37 percent of the households owned analog TVs compared to 57 percent in 2011. The other 63 percent of consumers owned digital TVs.
With consumers no longer interested in a house full of TVs, the number of smartphone users was estimated to be about 38 million out of a population of 50 million people, or smartphone penetration of 76%, at the end of January.
Los Angeles-based fashion retailer Forever 21 signed an agreement Tuesday to open a flagship store in Beijing, part of a greater plan by the company to expand into the world’s largest emerging consumer market.
In a ceremony attended by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the clothing maker committed to a 24,000-square-foot retail space in a multi-story mall located in the Chinese capital’s central shopping district, Wangfujing.
A Fairbanks woman pleaded guilty Monday to criminally negligent homicide for killing a University Park Elementary School student with a vehicle this fall.
Yiki Kim, 68, could be sentenced to up to four years in jail at a hearing scheduled for May, under the terms of a plea agreement.
Prosecutors said Kim was driving an SUV that ran off the road and struck 11-year-old Jamison Thun, who was standing 15 feet from the street. She originally was charged with manslaughter and reckless driving.
During Monday’s hearing, Superior Court Judge Randy Olsen spent about half an hour working with a Korean interpreter to make sure Kim understood the trial rights she gave up by entering a plea agreement. Defense attorney Gary Stapp said Kim has a second-grade education and has trouble with the legal language. But he said he is convinced she understood the plea agreement.
Man killed in Winnipeg rollover mourned by friends CBC News (Canada)
Friends of a man who was killed in a car rollover in Winnipeg over the weekend say they are still in shock.
Donghyun Kim, 21, died after the car he was a passenger in rolled over on Pembina Highway, south of the Jubilee underpass, early Saturday morning.
Three other men, all in their early 20s, were in the vehicle at the time of the rollover.
The 21-year-old driver of the vehicle has been charged with a number of offences, including impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.
Also known as Ryan and “DK,” Kim was a kind man who wanted to be a dentist, according to friends.
Film Shoot Launch Party with James Kyson Lee, Henry J. Kim, on Dec. 15 in San Francisco FoundAsian.org
Join James Kyson Lee and Henry J. Kim at a special event (http://on.fb.me/sfseoul) to support “No Rest for the Righteous,” a short film leading into a feature that will be the first joint project between San Francisco and Seoul production companies.
South Korean robot prison guards: R2-D2 maybe, not the Terminator L.A. Times
South Korea is ready to wheel out its latest weapon in the war against crime: a 5-foot-tall, four-wheeled prison guard robot that will patrol the behind-bars hallways of penal institutions, even assess the mental states of prisoners.
This won’t be just any new guard to join the team. There will be no breaks, no demands for higher pay, no unprovoked attacks and not even a chance of accepting a bribe.
As South Korea battles Japan for supremacy in robot technology, designers have invented what they call a team of “friendly robots” that will not just guard prisoners but keep an eye on their well-being to boot.
South Koreans buying up iconic blue jeans preferred by Steve Jobs L.A. Times
This holiday season, South Korean youths are snapping up a new fashion statement -– the Levi’s 501 jeans made famous by the late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs.
South Koreans buy tons of Apple products, but, style-wise, the jeans are the new hip thing.
A poll taken by Shinsegae, a major department store here, found that the Jobs-inspired 501 look was one of the hottest sellers this year.
At $150 per pair here, the jeans cost almost as much as one of Apple’s technology products.
The Vancouver Whitecaps have agreed to contract terms with veteran South Korean midfielder Young-Pyo Lee.
The 34-year-old has earned 127 caps for South Korea and played in the past three World Cups.
Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said Lee can also play fullback and will help strengthen the team’s defensive backline.
Lee, who has played in South Korea, England and the Netherlands in his career, spent the past two seasons with Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal. The move to Major League Soccer is pending receipt of his international transfer certificate.
Benson Henderson Talks Meeting His Korean Family and Japanese Fans Bloody Elbow
Benson Henderson spent time in Korea while in Asia for the UFC’s press conference to formally announce UFC 144 in Tokyo, Japan. During his time in Korea he trained with Chan Sung Jung and Korean Top team and did media appearances. The big news was that he also got a chance to spend time with his mother’s side of the family in Korea. It was Ben’s first time meeting them…
A new application for the iPhone and iPad gives outsiders a rare glimpse into modern North Korean society.
The free app, available here, is called Fotopedia North Korea and launched last week. It is the brainchild of French photographer Eric Lafforgue, one of the few foreign photojournalists to receive a visa to work in North Korea.
The collection of well over 1,000 high-quality photos show North Koreans in all walks of life. The collection also includes propaganda materials, public monuments and cityscapes.
Moon Bloodgood brings love of sci-fi to Spielberg’s ‘Skies’ Boston Herald
Ever since she was a child, Bloodgood has been a fan of science fiction and horror.
That’s why she starred in “Terminator Salvation,” “Journeyman” and “Day Break.” It also explains why she wasn’t interested when she first heard about “Falling Skies.”
“I’m always going to love science fiction. That’s just a part of my personality. But I had done so much of it, and I was itching to do something else,” she told the Herald in a recent telephone interview from her Los Angeles home.
4 Killed, 1 Hurt in South Korea Shooting
AP via Time.com
A corporal in South Korea’s marine corps went on shooting rampage Monday, killing four fellow marines and wounding another on a Yellow Sea island base near the country’s tense border with North Korea, officials said.
The corporal was taken into custody on Ganghwa Island, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) west of Seoul, but his motive remained unknown, and the shooting was being investigated, Defense Ministry officials said.
South Korea plans to convert all textbooks to digital, swap backpacks for tablets by 2015 Engadget
South Korea announced this week that it plans to spend over $2 billion developing digital textbooks, replacing paper in all of its schools by 2015. Students would access paper-free learning materials from a cloud-based system, supplementing traditional content with multimedia on school-supplied tablets.
North Korean defector learns to live outside the world’s biggest prison The Guardian (U.K.)
Rhee Kyeong-mi used to struggle to find enough food. Now she is finding it hard to adjust to abundance and choice in South Korea.
4 South Koreans Missing After Apparent Suicide Attempt
AP via New York Times
Four South Koreans were missing and one was hospitalized Sunday after they jumped into a rain-swollen river in an apparent group suicide attempt first conceived online, police said.
British food giant Tesco has dramatically expanded its presence in South Korea thanks to an innovative approach to the country’s extremely busy populace, according to a new video presentation made by the company.
The company’s sales trailed far behind domestic giant and market leader E-Mart so Tesco decided to cut into its rival’s market share by expanding its online presence. The company, which operates under the HomePlus banner in Korea, saw how South Korea’s long working hours prevented many from visiting their physical stores.
They also saw how South Korea had more than 10 million smartphone users, well over 20% of the total population.
So the company decided to erect several virtual stores in subway stations. They set up large billboards of virtual store shelves, replicating the physical stores exactly. Shoppers used their smartphones to scan a QR code near the item; the food would then be delivered shortly thereafter.
“I like the way that it’s exactly like shopping in the actual store,” said one satisfied female shopper, in the video.
This unique approach is a great fit for South Korea, where Internet connectivity is available everywhere, even hundreds of feet below ground on a subway platform.
The success of the program boosted the company’s sales dramatically and Homeplus is now the no. 1 online retailer in Korea and is “a very close” no. 2 in offline sales.