Tuesday, 25 February 2014

7 Benefits of working for a Korean company

Just to show that this blog isn't always just about the negative aspects of Korean corporate culture I thought I would do a piece on some of the more positive aspects of a Korean workplace. Actually come to think of it, Korean companies do have some really awesome policies and benefits which are comparable to the "dream" benefits that are constantly promoted about Google, just that the Korean system and way are more understated in their promotion of such benefits.

Now most of the following points cover the medium to large Chaebol Korean companies which are for obvious reasons the most desired employers in Korea. Small companies and offices are unlikely to have such benefits but that doesn't mean they won't have some of the following.

So here are my 7  benefits of working for a Korean company

Investment in Education
Koreans love to learn and more to the point love to spend money on learning - and Korean companies are no different. As a staff of a Korean company you will get the opportunity to take advantage of a range of self development programs which will allow you to participate in workshops, attend seminars or even register for language courses. Other education benefits not always advertised by Korean companies is that most will sponsor MBA programs annually for highly rated staff they even fund school fees from kindergarten to University for staff who have served at the company for a set amount of time. My previous company was set at 7 years - so staff that had stayed on for 7 years or longer their children's school fees were being paid by the company (even those in private school). So if your worried about providing a college education for your kids then just sign up to a Korean company for life! (or 7 - 10 years)

Supporting Staff Hobby and Sporting Groups
Korean companies although demanding of your free time are actually surprisingly supporting of staff hobby groups and teams. It's actually more part of their strategy to have their workers bond and become 'family' like in their relationship. Typical groups that are funded are baseball teams, fishing groups, mountain hiking groups. Funds usually cover the cost of meals for the group and other necessities such as registration fees / uniforms. Not only that but as part of many Korean companies self development programs they will cover their workers gym membership fee's or in cases like my old company have a staff gym available in the office building!

Free Lunch!
Now who doesn't like a free lunch? Most Korean companies big and small provide lunch in someway or another. Larger companies will usually have a restaurant / cafe on site that will serve a variety of options for lunch! The bigger the company the better the food on offer and it doesn't just stop at lunch some companies will even provide for breakfast and dinner as well! Of course these are tactics to keep you at the office longer but hey for a young guy living alone eating at the office sure beats cooking at home - especially considering companies hire nutritionists to plan weekly menu's and ensure staff are eating healthy!

So if you thought getting served lunch was good then it gets better because most Korean companies will allow an hour for lunch (even if you are eating at the company cafeteria) so that means on average you are getting an extra 40 minutes to use how you would like! A lot of staff use this time to grab a coffee, have a smoke, go to the gym or even attend language classes! Lunch is also always a communal affair and provides a great way for staff to mingle and communicate with other staff and departments (although this doesn't always occur) regardless it sure beats eating a sandwich at your desk!

Healthy Workers are Happy Workers
Health insurance is standard as part of a Korean workers compensation package but what this usually also includes is regular physical checkups; monthly nurse visits to the office and sometimes even a personal trainer on site! A pretty good benefit especially for someone looking to improve their health or lose some weight!

Staff Dinners / Drinks
Depending on your age and where you are in life this can be a awesome benefit or an absolute hell.
If only held on exclusively Friday's then it would be perfect! Korean companies will encourage and pay for regular staff dinners and drinks and not just the cheap stuff - some items of choice that I was able to sample thanks to my previous company include Korean AAA grade beef, Lobster, Sashimi, even a 5 star restaurant once! And of course you are able to drink to your hearts content and not just Soju! Depending on your team leader you will also get to drink the good stuff - whisky, vodka, wine and other liquers all at the cost of the company - You beauty! Safe to say with staff dinners and a cafeteria at the office I never paid for a single meal during the weekdays.

Company Events
While sometimes they can be comparable to a North Korean propaganda rally Korean company events held for staff are so over the top that they are awesome. Think firework displays, overnight stays at top class resorts, snowboarding trips, performances and concerts by famous singers and bands, a 48 hour bender of alcohol, food, music and laughter - Koreans do staff workshops RIGHT!

Now there will usually be a large company wide event held once to twice a year and then smaller workshops for departments / teams or even age groups. Some of the things I was lucky enough to be involved in was a retreat to a secluded lake area, a camping/fishing trip in Namhae including canoeing, a trip to a ski resort and a performance by After School (Kpop girl band) of course each trip also involves some sort of work related workshop but you are usually too hungover to care!

The aim of said events are to build loyalty towards the company and what better way to do that then with bribery!
Benefits of working for a Korean company
Concerts by famous singers are common at company events

Regular Staff Awards
Recognizing and awarding staff achievements is something Korean companies do well and do often. Usually using the above events to recognize high performing staff and rewarding them with significant bonuses or opportunities.

Now the above is not a definitive list - there are a range of other benefits I'm sure that others have experienced but I hope the above made working in Korea sound that little bit more exciting; a lot of the said benefits are quite attractive to a younger worker like myself.


  1. I'm still waiting for the day that Korean companies will sponsor my hobby of Cricket.haha. I do remember my boss getting all of us to come to work an hour earlier to play 탁구 with a "professional coach". Instead of just playing the guy did the typical korean thing and got us to practice the "correct technique". So much for team building.

  2. just so happy to read this, i dunno why lol~~
    thanks for writing the good side of Korean company

  3. I am sorry that this is totally not correct. I worked in Korean company for four years . To deal with Korean is very difficult . You have to follow manger opinion without thinking . Korean invite you for dinner if they want something from you . They always think of saving money. They have big industry and I wonder how because I didn't see that they smart. I not recommend to work with Korean company