DAY 3 – KAIST School, Canadian Embassy, Hospital Tour
KAIST Business College – Morning
Today is the first day that we will be taking public transit in South Korea. Since the devastation of World War II, the South Korean government has built an expansive and comprehensive network throughout Seoul. We headed out to KAIST College of Business –our partner school in South Korea. When we arrived, we were extremely impressed by our partner school: a Global Business School with multiple awards and global recognition, 1st in Asia and 20th in the world according to Financial Times Executive. To correlate with the sustainability topic of our trip, KAIST also has a Graduate School of Green Growth. Their school has an emphasis on research within green growth and they promote their MBA students to “do good” – social responsibility within sustainability.
We also learned the importance of education in the Korean culture – your education is very important to securing a job. Your job really reflects your status as you are often judged by your title and position. When you hand someone your business card, they will use your position to determine how they should treat you. This is based on a hierarchical society design in which senior personnel are given respect and power, whereas all others are considered subordinate. This becomes key to managing people in Korea by using promotions and higher status titles as motivation.
And finally, we discussed proper business practices in Korean culture. Relationships are key to doing business in Korea – like many other Asian countries. We learned to establish credibility among Korean colleagues requires after hours socializing. Koreans value building relationships and your worth is your network.
At the Canadian Embassy, we gained a great deal of insight into the history of the relationship between Korea and Canada. We also discussed key trade relations between our countries and what popular items are often exported from Canada. Canola oil is one of our largest and growing exports to Korea. The embassy also told us about how they support Canadian SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises) with entering the Korean market. They will connect these businesses with potential Korean partners, business resources, and cultural information. The future of trade between our countries will continue to strengthen as tariffs continue to decrease.
Hospital Visit – Afternoon
Fifteen students were taken to the Seoul University Hospital for a tour of the facilities. As this was close to rush hour, obtaining a taxi and getting to the hospital were not without issues. Once we arrived at the hospital we were warmly greeted by an employee and taken to the International Clinic of the hospital. It was fascinating to see that there are a lot of international patients in this hospital, particularly from China, Mongolia, Russia, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates). We then proceeded to visit the top most floor in the oncology department and observe the private rooms available for patients if they decide to pay for that luxury. As a member of our group works in health care in Canada, she mentioned that she had never seen anything like this in a hospital of this size. The private room had 2 bedrooms, 2nd bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room, all with the latest appliances and technologies. At the top level, we were also taken to a patio where patients would enjoy the view and some were even gardening. Next, we visited the Cancer Education and Information Centre of the building where citizens can come in and get educated on cancer diseases. The office was clean and very well-lit and it used all types of modes of communication for those visiting: paper, verbal, online, and digital interaction. The digital interaction was particularly impressive because it would allow those searching for information to access it on a human sized, interactive touch screen, mounted on the wall. The last area we visited was in the basement and it related to PET, CT and MRI scanning for cancer patients. The director of that center was kind enough to take us inside the facility and explain the steps taken to cure those affected by the illness. He also displayed and explained the use of the cutting-edge equipment and took us to a backroom where they would make the required pharmaceuticals for treatment (there was also a room that was “abiotic” which just got installed). Overall, the hospital visit was a great experience and allowed us to see the inner workings of another country’s healthcare system.
DAY 4 – GGGI, KAIST Lecture, Baseball Game
GGGI – Morning
The morning began with a scenic walk to the beautiful office tower home to GGGI – the Global Green Growth Institute. GGGI is an international, intergovernmental organization dedicated to promoting sustainable growth in developing countries and emerging economies. Various speakers within the organization provided insight to how the company operates, how funding is secured, and provided an in-depth look into the various sustainable projects being undertaken across the world.
Oilers Game 7
An extended lunch allowed us the opportunity to watch Game 7 between the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers. With the tragic Oiler loss Ed ended up disappointed, but he is already gearing up for next season and looking forward to watching playoff hockey abroad in 2018!
KIAST – Afternoon
Back at KIAST we continued our lecture series and learned more about Korean culture and sustainability in Korea. The first lecture focused on the future of Smart Cities and their importance in creating sustainability for future generations. In the last lecture of this leg of the tour we learned many things about Korea. We learned that Koreans never pour drinks for themselves but instead pour (with two hands) for those around them. They value taking care of each other and this demonstrates that value. It is also customary to give and receive gifts in Korea. We were lucky enough to receive a few gifts while here, and learnt that to properly give and receive you do so with two hands. Then you wait to open your gift until later, as it is inappropriate to open gifts in front of the giver.
We also learnt about the concept of “nunch-i” which translates to the ability to read faces. This an important ability in business interactions that describes people’s ability to judge the situation by the facial expressions.
Our professor also discussed Korean cultural tendency to self-police. Michael had warned us that it’s typical, specifically for older ladies, to scold you in public if you are disruptive or disrespectful. For example if you litter, they may shame you. We experienced this first hand, after having lively discussions post baseball game on the train, we were told to ‘please be quiet’.
We all were really excited to experience a baseball game outside of North America and we were not disappointed. The atmosphere was exciting and we got to see a lot of coordinated cheers by fans of both teams. The many pre-choreographed dances and group cheers differentiated quite a bit from an American ball game where in the majority of cheering is done exclusively at exciting points within the game. The local crowd was generally quiet and respectful when the other side was performing their cheers.
Blog post submitted by Korea Thailand Study Tour participants Abby, Bogdan, Brittnay, Kyle and Luke.