Category Archives: Business

“Unveiled, Inclusive Korean Culture Needed in Korean Multinationals” Business Korea

Business Korea

“Unveiled, Inclusive Korean Culture Needed in Korean Multinationals”  

18 June 2015


Emanuel Pastreich


Korean multinational corporations have reached a level of global prominence that positions them well as pacesetters for the future of business. Yet we find that often Korean companies have tremendous trouble attracting and retaining the best global talent. Although the best and the brightest can be recruited to work at Korean firms, often their loyalty is not much deeper than the competitiveness of their compensation package.

Having spoken with many internationals who work at Korean multinationals, I can say with certainty that the essential problem that they encounter is clear. There is a fundamentally different culture for Korean employees than for international employees. The cultural divide is clear, so clear that I even know a Korean who lived many for many years in the United States as a child and has become a priceless member of his company, serving as a bridge between the Korean and the international groups in his firm. This role should not be necessary within one company’s culture.

Most Koreans explain this odd state of affairs as a consequence of the immaturity of Korean companies. They tell me that Koreans are simply not sufficiently global in their thinking to create a truly world-class work environment.

Although I certainly would not deny that Koreans have a long way to go to develop a corporate culture that is welcoming to employees from different cultures and experiences, I disagree with the common assumption that Korean companies need to become just like Western multinationals if they want to attract and retain international talent.

If anything, the challenge for Korean firms is not to give up the Korean culture, which has served as the core of their remarkable growth an innovation, for some bland and predictable Western corporate culture. Rather, the challenge is to make that same Korean corporate culture readily accessible to everyone, universal in implication, and inspiring to people from every walk of life. Read more of this post

Asia Institute Seminar with Clyde Prestowitz “Free Trade and the Status of SMEs in the Global Economy”

Asia Institute Seminar


“Free Trade and the Status of SMEs in the global economy


21st April, 2012


Clyde Prestowitz

Founder and President of Economic Strategy Institute

Former counselor to the Secretary of Commerce  


On Free Trade

Emanuel Pastreich:

The proper relationship between market liberalization as part of larger trade liberalization efforts and the need to protect agricultural industry has become an enormous issue in Korea, debated at every level of society and it will be one focus of attention in the upcoming election.  As the issue is generally treated in a symbolic manner (concerns about mad cow disease rather than a debate on the concrete impact of market liberalization on the agricultural sector) there is much confusion as to what exactly is at stake. That said, there is a far wider consensus in Korea than is the case in other countries about the importance of trade to Korea’s economic growth. Most Koreans seem to believe that Korea has no choice but to trade.

Clyde Prestowitz:

When you say “there is a wide consensus,” what exactly do you mean? “Trade” implies a two-way street, that one should both buy and sell through trade and that both are good. Are you saying that there a consensus in Korea that Koreans need to buy or that they need to sell?

In my experience, I would say, most Asian countries, with one or two exceptions, focus on exports, on selling. They know that if they want to export, they sometimes have to buy something in return, but they don’t really want to buy things. So they enter into market opening agreements in which they agree to open their markets in return for overseas market access, but typically the Asian country’s market doesn’t open very much, even after the agreement is implemented. Asian nations feel a conflict because they know they should be buying because of the agreements, but they also know that buying is not their interest. I doubt there is a consensus in Korea about the value of trade, as opposed to the benefits of exports. Exports are something most everyone can agree is a good thing. Read more of this post

“Looking at Free Trade and Korea’s Position in a Globalized World ” Asia Institute Seminar with Mark Kingwell



“Looking at Free Trade and Korea’s Position in a Globalized World ”


Asia Institute Seminar with Mark Kingwell

May 10, 2012



Mark Kingwell


Department of Philosophy

University of Toronto



Emanuel Pastreich:

Free Trade agreements, especially with the United States, seem to raise very strong emotional responses in Korea. Koreans associate them with mad cow disease and undue influence of multinational corporations. And yet, oddly, trade agreements with Europe or India have not resulted in that degree of protest.

It seems many see trade liberalization, specifically the KORUS FTA with the United States, as opening the flood gates for influence by American multinational corporations and the import of unhealthy foodstuff. The import of American goods will put Koreans out of work and result in greater interference of the United States in Korea at the local level.

And yet, when it comes to trade, things are not exactly what many people think they are. Many Korean companies are themselves powerful multinationals and the balance of power between the United States and Korea, is far from obvious.

Koreans run around worrying that Americans will come in and just buy up valuable Korean companies and dominate the nation. But in fact, Korea is likely to invest far more in the United States than the United States could possibly invest in Korea over the next decade. If there is a problem in trade, it cannot be reduced to an America vs. Korea equation.


Mark Kingwell:

Some years ago, Canadians went through a similar debate concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Mexico; but there are two significant differences between Canada’s relationship with the United States and Korea’s.  First, Canada is a resource-rich country. Our historical identity is as lumbermen and hewers of wood or drawers of water and will likely continue to determine our future, at least its immediate version, with respect to the rest of the world.   Read more of this post

The Korean Comic Book Misaeng (“Misaeng” (未生 “The one who has not lived yet”) : War of attrition in the corporate office

Korean comic books (“Manhwa” as opposed to the Japanese “Manga”) have increased their sophistication with incredible speed over the last five years. I do not read comic books as a rule, and my exposure is limited to the educational manhwa my children read at home. But when I saw an article about the new manhwa series “Misaeng” (未生 “The one who has not lived yet”) I had to have a copy. It is a remarkable work of art that deserves to be widely read and analyzed.

Misaeng, the work of Yoon Taeho (윤태호), describes the claustrophobic interpersonal relations between employees of Korean corporations, focusing on the banality of everyday life and the little struggles and tiny victories of survival in a corporate culture. The analogy that dominates the book is between life in modern society and the game of baduk   or “go” as it is known in Japanese. Read more of this post

Lively discussion of cultural production in China and Korea

Emanuel was the MC at CICON (China-Korea International Conference on Cultural Innovation Cities; 한중창의문화도시융합컨퍼런스;
中韩创新城市文化产业论坛) on June 22, 2012. This conference, part of a series of events commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the normalization of relations between China and Korea, brought together important  figures from the arts of Korea and China for a thoughtful discussion of he future of cultural cooperation between the two countries.

Emanuel makes opening remarks at CICON.

Read more of this post

“The Rise of Consumption and the Demise of Causality” (essay)

“The Rise of Consumption and the Demise of Causality”


Emanuel Pastreich

There are two enormous challenges today that seem unrelated and yet perhaps can be directly connected through a more profound consideration of the impact of technology on society: the rise of consumption culture and the demise of causality in our thinking, specifically with reference to the impact of our actions on the environment.

The first challenge is the challenge of greed and consumption. There is a deep need among people to consume that has assumed a crisis level in advanced industrial nations, reaching a level completely out of line with either the economic situation (which is dire) or human needs. That need to consume is spreading rapidly. It is common to attribute this situation to “greed” without much consideration for what it is that generates greed, how that act has its own social, historical and even physiological aspects.   Read more of this post

Video of Pastreich lecture at Korean Federation of Industry


Korean Federation of Industry

International Management Institute

Morning Lecture

Emanuel Pastreich


The Asia Institute

(in Korean)

Seoul goes Global (this time for real!)

Seoul is stepping into a much accelerated rate of internationalization over the last six months, so much that I would argue that Seoul should no longer be considered as representative of Korea, but put in a new class of global cities that are competing for global domination in economics, culture, education and prestige. That is to say, Seoul is going head to head with Dubai, Singapore, New York, London and Shanghai in a race for the top seat. You can refer to my previous short post on the next Byzantium  for a few thoughts on this phenomenon.

For example Seoul is going through a wave of enormous building projects such as the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park that may well fundamentally alter the landscape of the city. Read more of this post

“한국의 루이비통`을 기다리며” 한국경제신문



2012년03월 09일

“한국의 루이비통`을 기다리며”

이만열(임마누엘) <경희대 교수•비교문학 Read more of this post