Old and Out

It is funny how human mind eagerly relates multiple independent events.  I read an in-dept report on age discrimination in Korean companies this morning (I got up early ;-).  Five minutes later, I found Dave blogging about age card and whether one stops learning at 22.  Well, learning does stop early in Korea.  Maybe not 22, but 30 at the latest for most Koreans.

Koreans studies hard when they are young, reaching unreal nightmarish pace toward end of highschool.  During college, they relax and discover the joy of being an adult, drinking and getting laid.  Engineers are an exception.  They basically do what US engineers do except there is a greater chance of being enslaved by professors on some quasi-commercial projects.

Once they start working, they are too busy to do anything except work, eat, drink, and sleep (order is significant).  Thanks to Internet, now they are starting to enjoy activities outside work during work hour (understandable since they obviously can't cut down further on eating, drinking, and sleeping).  Is there time for learning?  Hardly.  To survive in Korea, you have to invest a lot of time in socializing because social networks takes precedence over education in Korea.  Now you know why there are so many cafes and bars in Korea.

When they reach 40, they are already on the way out.  If they have not made executive management by mid-40, they will eventually be forced to retire early.  At Samsung, retirement age is 55.  Just a week ago, a large Korean IT company asked me to lead an engineering team in Korea.  I told them I wasn't too excited about the prospect.  No kidding.