Keeping up with Korea

Our trip to Seoul kicked off with a traditional Korean welcome dinner straight off the plane from New York and we’ve been running nonstop ever since. Our days have been packed with company visits, tours and mildly successful attempts to wander the city on our own with the three broken Korean phrases we’ve learned. There are too many moments to capture, but here are a few of the highlights from some of the businesses we visited:

12/29: Meeting Mr. Sohn Suk-hee at JTBC When we talk about meeting Mr. Sohn, locals react like we met Justin Bieber. He is undoubtedly the most famous and influential news journalist in Korea (and also the President of the JTBC’s news reporting division) and he found the time to chat with us, just minutes before his live daily broadcast.  jtbc

12/29: Learning How to Package a Popstar at SM Entertainment Justin and team introduced us to the wonderful world of K-Pop where, as they reminded us “artists are made, not born”. SM talent scouts scour the country discovering kids as young as 7 and train them to sing, dance, act and speak at least two languages during a 4-7 year training contract. We later toured the SUM Market where we saw proof that literally any and everything can and will be branded once these groups are made. K-Pop group names were on every product from coffee and ice cream to beer and electronics.

12/30: Seeing the Next Wave of Korean Communication at Kakao Walking into the Seoul office immediately felt like we’re were transported back to Silicon Valley. This rapidly-growing tech company strives to connect people with other people, places and information and we got a first hand look at what’s next. From new developments in Kakao Talk and Kakao Page, tech investments in natural language processing and machine learning, and the Asian expansion of their music streaming service, Melon, Kakao is changing the Korean consumer marketplace.

More to come on our cultural immersion in Korea.

Courtney Richardson ’17

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