Sunday, October 31, 2010

영어 Hall of Shame Entry #3: LG English Speaking Twitter - LG 영어 대화/연습 트위터 모임 is a disservice

영어 Hall of Shame Entry #3:  LG English Speaking Twitter - LG 영어 대화/연습 트위터 is a disservice

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.  I'll try to do neither, and I will just be embarrassed that these type of people still exist in Korea.  Here are his details, and they can be found here.  I could (and should) create an entirely new blog on the number of reasons that I entirely disagree with this person's attitude.

Here is an actual sentence from the description of the group: 
혹시 Native 수준의 직원분들 자랑하러는 오시지 말세욤~.

This person, I believe, is serious.  Here are some of the perspectives from which I totally disagree. 
1.  Tell me Mr.  Jeong, how is it exactly that you or the people will improve if you do not learn from experts?  Let's say that I wanted to learn Korean, should I learn from an Englishman who studied for a couple of years at 연대?  I strongly doubt that you can answer "yes" to that question.

2.  눈치때문입니까?   웃긴 것 치지마세요.  What good would it do to show off to total strangers who will have no effect on my future, earnings, or anything else?  Instead, you are worried about a native speaker showing off?  In exchange, you will accept non-perfect English language advice.  It is ludicrous that this attitude exists and it I do not believe (because I have seen it) that Mr Jeong's attitude is his alone.  눈치 itself limits the progress of Korea.   It certainly has no place in learning a foreign language.  저의 눈을 볼 수 없자나요.  그래두 이렇게 생각하세요?  Unbelievable. 

3.  If you really want to learn English, here is my sincere advice.  Leave your ego at the door (means "Forget about your ego"), and ask me any questions that you may have, at any level.  I have exchanged advice and received grateful messages when I have done so.  I appreciated the kind messages I have received.  There is no such thing as 눈치 on the internet because we do not know each other. 

I must protest, and will continue to do so when I have seen something this blatantly disserving all Koreans.  Mr. Jeong, twitter id FR33SOul, you are the recipient of a place in the 영어 선생 Hall of Shame.
The Lost Seoul

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hyundai Motors and Kia Motors are Major Beneficiaries of the Strong Japanese Yen

Readers of the Seoul Gyopo Guide have known what has been coming out in the press at an increasingly rapid rate:  the rise in the JPY is hurting the most important Japanese industries.  Right on cue, the Japanese auto manufacturers are weighing in on the strong Yen:

Toyota: and

Of course, the world usually looks at the US dollar as the reference point.  Again, the thesis here by The Lost Seoul has been consistent:  Hyundai and Kia stand to gain as a result of the strong Yen.  Exactly as predicted here on the original post, Kia reported record results just yesterday and Hyundai also followed suit.

Hyundai Motors, in particular, has been benefitting.  The Kelley Blue Book has reported that Hyundai is the brand in which interest has increased the most.  As many know, Hyundai's 100,000/10 year guarantee, as well as the Hyundai Assurance plan, which allows purchasers to give the car back to Hyundai should the driver lose his/her job, has made Hyundai famous.

And while Korea has stayed "under the radar" during the currency skirmish occuring now, the Korean automakers will continue to take market share in the international marketplace.  Low interest rates are making things even worse, because now the Japanese have no flexibility to compete on price.  Unless cars begin to fly out of showrooms, this will not change for the foreseeable future. 

This story is nowhere near finished.  There are no easy answers for the Japanese Yen, unless there is a coordinated effort by the largest nations to simultaneously sell the Yen.  Perhaps this will occur naturally, but at this point, it does not seem very likely.  While it may be suggested that this is a process that should happen naturally, the political reality is that Japan's internal political unease will most likely continue to force the BOJ to continue alone, until there is a coordinated effort, which will need to include the Chinese.

영어 Hall of Shame Entry #2: "Same here" is not a useful expression. "As well" is much better

영어 Hall of Shame Entry #2:  "Same here" is not a useful expression.

Today, I saw the following on the internet.

Expression of the Day
오늘 배울 표현은 ‘Same here’입니다. ‘Me, too’와 유사한 표현으로 사용하시면 됩니다. 또한 흔히 사용하는 표현으로 ‘Same to you’도 함께 알아 둡시다. 이 표현은 ‘You, too’와 유사하게 사용됩니다. 예를 들어, ‘Have a good day’라고 상대가 말하면,‘Same to you’라고 대답하면 됩니다

Well, at least it isn't totally wrong. 
However, the term "same here" isn't quite appropriate.
I would have written this entry as:

Speaker 1.  I am having a bad day.
Speaker 2.  (x)  Same here.
Speaker 2.  (o)  I am having a bad day as well.
Speaker 2.  (o)  I am as well.

The pattern would be:
Speaker 2.  "Repeat what speaker 1 said" and add "as well."

Speaker 1.  I hope that we can meet again.
Speaker 2.  I hope that we can meet again as well.

It is simple, correct, and shows Speaker 1 that you have paid attention to what has been said, so it would be considered to be a polite, appropriate response.  You could have used "as well" in each of the cases in the first paragraph, instead of "me, too,"  "same to you," and "same here."  None of those is technically wrong, but they are too casual in a business setting.  In addition, there are 3 phrases that you need to learn, whereas The Lost Seoul thinks that all you need is 1 phrase.

Again, The Lost Seoul wants native Korean speakers to speak correctly in language that is commonly used.  In addition, The Lost Seoul wants native Korean speakers to not use unnecessary time and effort. 

Once again, has earned a place in the 영어 선생 Hall of Shame.

영어 선생 Hall of Shame Entry #1: "chitchat" is barely used, and definitely NOT in a business setting.

영어 선생 Hall of Shame:  "chitchat" is barely used, and definitely NOT in a business setting.

I saw a post of this sample dialogue on the Internet here.
There are two things about this dialogue that I believe are inappropriate in a business setting.

The word "chitchat" is almost never used, even in casual English among friends.

(x)  I hope I will have an opportunity to chitchat with you all later.
(o)  I hope that I will have the opportunity to meet with you all.
(o)  I hope that I will have the opportunity to personally speak with you all later.

The Lost Seoul has made some recommendations on native Koreans can improve their English.  The list can be found here.  One of the key points is that there should not be a focus on vocabulary.  You have already been overwhelmed with word lists, vocabulary books, etc.  Most are NOT USED.  In Korean, the language changes, the phrases and uses change, and at a far faster pace than in English.  There is no need for useless phrases, such as "chitchat.", you are the winner of a position in the 영오 선생 Hall of Shame.

영어 Hint of the Day #20: "I don't believe you." "미들 수 없." 근데 "You are lying" 말하지마세요

영어 Hint of the Day #20: "I don't believe you.""미들 수 없."  근데.... 

It is a direct, and very literal translation.  "I don't believe you" is correctly translated to "미들 수 없읍니다."  Depending on the tone of voice, and your relationship with the listener, there can be many implications.

For example, if the listener is a close friend, then there are many other, nicer ways (perhaps as a joke) to say this in English.
(o)  You must be kidding me.  (장난 친다)
(o)  Are you pulling my leg?  ("Pulling my leg" is slang, and I don't know the origin so don't ask me!)
(o)  Give me a break.
(o)  Really?  Seriously?  (찐자?)

There are more phrases like this in English, just as there are many more in Korean (웃기지마 and others). 

Note:  The specific word "lie" has a particularly strong meaning in English.  The Lost Seoul recommends NOT using the word 'lie" unless you are intentionally attempting to use the strongest language possible. 
(o)  You are lying.
(o)  You are a liar.
These are gramatically correct, but if you speaking to someone who is already angry, then you may find yourself involved in a fight, so be careful.   

The Lost Seoul 와 Seoul Gyopo Guide 믿으시면 좋겠습니다.

Friday, October 29, 2010

영어 선생 "Hall of Shame": Exposing the English "Experts" Who Are Not Experts

What is the "영어 선생 Hall of Shame?"
The Lost Seoul will point out tweets, websites, books, and any other materials that are attempting to teach English incorrectly.  If there are errors in grammar in an English lesson or message, then the teacher (or author) will be exposed on the 영어 선생 "Wall of Shame."

Why is the "영어 선생 Hall of Shame" Necessary?
As you probably know, Korea is full of very studious people.  However, it is also a society that follows fads and trends too easily.  In many cases, a teacher may not be strictly qualified to teach.  That is very heartbreaking to The Lost Seoul because Koreans' hard-earned money and studious attitude are being wasted.  The objective of the "영어 선생 Hall of Shame" is to improve the quality of English language education in Korea, and to help Koreans that are sincerely trying to learn English correctly.

It is even more annoying when the "experts" are native Koreans.
You can read The Lost Seoul's opinion about Business English hagwons here.  I can actually understand when 외국인 come to Korea in order to find employment after graduating from university.  These young people are just trying to make a living, and the fact that they may or may not have been stellar students in the past is absolutely undertandable.  HOWEVER, native Koreans try to market their expertise as a "native speaker," when they are frequently not.  To those of you that fit this description, beware of being nominated to the "영어 선생 Hall of Shame."  The Lost Seoul thinks that you are a waste of time and money, and that you contribute to the reluctance of Koreans to overcome their fears.

There is one more reason for the "영어 선생 Hall of Shame"  Koreans need to stand up for their rights.
As I have stated in the past elsewhere, Korean do not question authority very aggressively.  However, there are ways to do so peacefully.  When there is incompetence found, then consumers must demand change.  Only by insisting on the highest quality will the best teachers be provided.  For example, a new HDTV in Korea will not sell at all if the features are not excellent, and the picture is not clear.  However, Koreans accept poor English teaching and accept it when teachers make errors.  Perhaps it is that you do not know when these errors even occur.  Revealing those errors is the purpose of the "영어 선생 Hall of Shame." 

This should be fun. Finding candidates will be pretty easy.
The Lost Seoul

영어 Hint of the Day #19: 촌놈처럼 말하고 싶습니까? "She don't know where it's at."

영어 Hint of the Day #19:  촌놈처럼 말하고 싶습니까?  "She don't know where it's at." 

Today, I was talking with someone, and he said that.  I couldn't believe it.  I could not believe that a native English speaker actually made not one, but two, grammatical errors in one short sentence.  To me, he sounded like an uneducated person from the countryside.

What were the errors?
1.  Number agreement.  The words "She don't" cannot ever be used together. 
(x)  She don't....
(o)  She doesn't....

2.  Sentences should not end in a preposition.  Sometimes, this rule is difficult to follow.  That is particularly true in English.  However, in written English, prepositions should not be the last word in a sentence.
(x)  "...where it's at."
(o)  "...where it is."

So what should the sentence be?
(x)  She don't know where it's at?
(o)  She doesn't know where it is.

Good Luck

Thursday, October 28, 2010

If you think that YOU are underemployed, consider Korea: 3.7% official unemployment and yet...

Korea's most recent statistics show that Korea's official unemployment rate is 3.7%.  Korea's unemployment rate is the lowest in the OECD.  Do you know why this hasn't gotten that much attention in Korea, and why this number cannot be believed in its entirety?  Here now are the ugly facts.

First, the size of Korea's underground economy is enormous, 28% according the Korea Herald.  That basically means that the tax receipts of the country are approximately 28% x 30% = 8.4% lower than they would otherwise be.  The opportunity cost of 8.4% is, as expected, almost unthinkable.  From increased government spending on social services, to increased public works for financial stimulus, to increased national savings which would effectively push down the rampant inflation of food prices and other everyday goods, the economic and social cost of the size of the underground economy is too large to be ignored.

Second, largely unreported is the underemployment of the new college graduates.  How competitive is it to find a job for Korean college graduates?  The minimum wage is approximately USD $3.50/hours.  Perhaps more alarmingly, here is a list of some of the jobs that you need a college degree in order to qualify:  airline stewardess, casino dealer, airline ticketing representative.  I am not kidding about this.  Not only do you need to have a college degree, but these jobs are highly competitive.  It has long been the case that being an airline steward or stewardess at Asiana Airlines or Korean Airlines is a highly prestigious job.  Can the same thing be said for United Airlines?  No.

I could (and will in the future) go into further detail on these points, and add others regarding the dominance of the large conglomerates, the effects on the Korean economy, but this is a starting point so that we can discuss the underemployment in South Korea.

영어 Hint of the Day #18: (x) I am John, and I approve this message. Why? The word "approve" isn't that easy.

In the U.S., the first Tuesday of November is Election Day.  If you watch TV in the U.S. these days, the airwaves are filled with politicians who are campaigning. I just saw a commercial, and was appalled to hear a grammatical error..

(x) My name is John, and I approve this message.

This is wrong.

(o)  My name is John, and I approved this message.
(o)  My name is John and I approve of this message.
(o)  My name is John, and I am in approval of this message.

Each of these three alternatives is correct, and I think that the one that you should try to learn is second example.  It is the most consistent of the three.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Will the iPad Threaten Bandi & Luni's?

Will the iPad Threaten Bandi & Luni's?

In today's Korea Herald, this article appeared.  The article desribed the tablet PCs that have been released by Korean corporations, as the iPad is being introduced in Korea.   In the US, the iPad has become very popular in a very short period of time.  The Lost Seoul has been critical of the iPad, which has no USB ports for storage, and it is very expensive given the functionality.  That said, it is of course beautifully made, and for those that are dedicated to Apple products, there will be demand.

One feature of the iPad is the ebook reading capability.  It is stunning.  In addition to the eBook reader made by Apple, Amazon's Kindle software is available for free as well.  There are other very capable programs such as Stanza which is free (The Lost Seoul uses it for the ipod Touch). 

For Korea, ebooks represents a large opportunity for readers, particularly for Koreans that want to learn English.  Books which are written to help learn English can be packaged with sound, and be read on the iPad.  In addition, the price of eBooks is much lower than paperback.  For many of the books aimed at ESL learners, this is a great development, in that Koreans can purchase the best books at a lower price.  In addition, textbooks, where are largely in English, can be purchased online.

There are two potential roadblocks which, in The Lost Seoul's opinion, have prevented widespread popularity of eBooks in Korea.  Below is a picture of Bandi and Luni's at COEX in Gangnam, Seoul.  On the weekend, this bookstore is literally packed.  The picture below does not show the full extent of how crowded Bandi & Luni's actually is. 

This is the first problem:  going to bookstores is the event itself, and cannot be replaced by an eBook reader.  The number of leisure activities in Korea is quite limited.  Students are busy studying, and fields for playing sports of any sort is very limited.  These huge bookstores are full of young families who make a trip to the bookstore in order to buy books or just read the books, without actually buying.  That is the point:  have fun taking the trip.  How can the iPad replace that experience?  It cannot.

The second issue is more practical, i.e. there is not enough content (ebook) in Korea.  This can hardly be a surprise to those that have watched the Korean economy.  There are a great number of book publishers, and a great number of titles.  Books will typically cost KRW 11,000-15,000 for paperbacks.  The threat of eBooks is great because both the bookstore, and the book publishers' profits may potentially be hurt.  In addition, the entire process of book writing is being altered.  eBooks can be written and published through software on the Internet, with only limited contribution with the publisher of the eBook itself.  Now, that does not mean that all books will be published in this way, but there is a new way to write and sell books, if you are an author.  The bookstore could potentially lose a great deal of foot traffic.  It would not surprise The Lost Seoul at all if the bookstores are working with the book publishers in order to limit the growth of ebooks.  Working together would help both the bookstore, and the publisher.  Korean consumers have experienced this type of activity many times in the past.  For example, there was no logical reason for the delay of the iPhone's arrival. (Please do not believe the notion that technology was a barrier.)

Koreans interested in learning English should use eBooks as a good way of buying the best books for learning and reading..  Authors should use in order to create eBooks that can published cheaply, and sold on iTunes as well as  The beneficiaries of this potential development?  Koreans everywhere.

Korea's 3rd Quarter GDP. Maybe the BOK and the Korean Government Are Right

This week, Korea's 3rd Quarter GDP figures were released, and they were decidedly...lukewarm at best, and according to the words of the Associated Press, economic activity has slowed markedly as the global economic recovery slows.

On the bright side, the year-over-year change was an increase of 4.5%, which is substantially higher than other OECD over this timeframe.  Unemployment, although it increased last month, remains near the lowest levels of all OECD countries at 3.7%, up from 3.4%  The KOSPI has risen to the highest level in three years.

On the other hand, problems persist.  The quarter-over-quarter change was only 0.7%, as exports slowed.  You can see from one of my previous posts, that Korea remains a vulnerable one-winged bird because one wing (exports) is keeping the bird flying, while the other wing (domestic demand) is not.  The BOK and the Korean administration have continually tried to downplay the strength of the Korean economy, much like its Canadian counterpart.  As Koreans know, the residential real estate market is stagnant, especially compared with its Asian (ex-Japan) counterparts.  Some of that has to do with stricter bank regulations and tax laws which have intentiaonally restricted investment in real estate.  Other negative factors include the slightly higher borrowing rate for mortgages, the strength in the Japanese Yen (see here), the aging population, and the large number of empty developments outside of Korea (신도시).  This is particularly damaging to domestic demand because there is much higher percentage of family wealth invested in real estate than in most other countries.  Therefore, the "wealth effect" that accompanies higher home prices is largely absent in Korea. 
To the average Korean, the argument of "at least we are not Japan" is of little consolation as rising food prices have hit the average Korean particularly hard.  The KOSPI's relentless rise this year has not made most Korean citizens happy because their share ownership is quite low compared to their net worth.  In short, the benefits that would otherwise be enjoyed by citizens when the equity market rises is not being enjoyed by the average Korean, and that affects consumption.  Naturally, that in turn affects GDP.  When you couple that with the prospect of a slower global recovery than anticipated, the Korean government has been correct to reduce its fiscal stimulus only slowly, and the Bank of Korea has rightfully resisted calls for greater appreciation of the Korean Won. Both parties are serving the interests of the Korean people at this time.  Now, that does not mean that will be no adverse consequences, but the current path seems to the less of two evils.

The Lost Seoul

Things Foreigners Need to Understand About Koreans (update #4)

Note:  This is just the update.  The complete list can be found here.

4.  Is this time any different than the others?  Unlikely
Of course, this is the topic of books, and countless newspaper articles.  Here are the bottom lines.
First, there is no way that China or the U.S. would approve.  South Korea is the U.S. 7th largest trade partner.  China relies on South Korean products and technology as it tries to lift the standard of living of its population.  It is a little-publicized fact that China is engaged in land stripping at below-market prices in North Korea as China tries to secure natural resources.
Second, the Korean people are Korean first, and not differences in political ideology.  Many, many families remain divided by the 38th parallel, and are willing to do almost anything to reunite  Yesterday (October 2010), a day after a few shots were exchanged at the DMZ, many people travelled from the South to the North for a reunion longed for in the souls of many. 
Third, the everyday lives of South Koreans is absolutely, positively unaffected.  The struggle of big city people is the most dominant factor in survival of everyday Koreans.  Daily routines changed as a result of potential North/South conflict?  Do not think for one moment that a single iota changes during "increased tensions."  Bomb shelter drills similar to ones that occur in Israel?  Nope. 
Fourth, would South Korea restart donating food, or consider a second tourist site in North Korea, if war was a realistic scenario?  Perhaps most importantly, South Korean President Lee has proposed a reunification tax in order to prepare for a potential North-South reunification because Korea has carefully watched the Gernman case, to estimate the costs of combining two financially different countries.

No doubt there are counter-arguments to each of the points listed.  There are two caveats. 
The first: a sudden collapse of the North Korean government, coupled with a rogue military leader who stages a coup, and erroneously triggers a conflict.  There are many variations on this same theme, i.e. the "Broken Arrow" scenario (remember that terrible John Travolta movie).  That scenario is scary, and in order to deter this, vast American and South Korean financial resources are spent every year.  One problem here is that the lines of communcation, to the public's knowledge, between the North and South may not be good as they could be.
The second: economic disaster in North Korea leads to critical nuclear technology sales to terrorist groups such as al-Queda.  That is a non-starter:  the US would not, and should not, tolerate this.  The buyer, as is well-known, is well-financed, and willing to buy.  The seller cannot be North Korea, simple as that.
While different opinions are continuously voiced on this matter, the four bottom lines listed above are true, and the smallest probability scenario cannot be assumed to be true.  That is why South Korean life is unchanged on a daily basis.  Pictures of demonstrations in Seoul demanding war against North Korea are sensationalism at its height.  US and western news services that are playing up the probability of sustained military conflict do not reveal the potential costs of such an outcome.  Costs that are so high to so many countries, and not just to the Korean peninsula.   While Koreans resent the notion of being a puppet to the world's superpowers (whoever it is at that time), it is a fact that, particularly for South Korea, the idea of instigating or inviting any of the two negative scenarios listed above is one that cannot be turned into overt action.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Relentless: Japanese Car Manufacturers are Complaining about the Strong Yen

Readers of the Seoul Gyopo Guide have known what has been coming out in the press at an increasingly rapid rate:  the rise in the JPY is hurting the most important Japanese industries.  Right on cue, the Japanese auto manufacturers are weighing in on the strong Yen:

Toyota: and

Of course, the world usually looks at the US dollar as the reference point.  Again, the thesis here by The Lost Seoul has been consistent:  Hyundai and Kia stand to gain as a result of the strong Yen.  Exactly as predicted here on the original post, Kia reported record results just yesterday and Hyundai also followed suit.

Hyundai Motors, in particular, has been benefitting.  The Kelley Blue Book has reported that Hyundai is the brand in which interest has increased the most.  As many know, Hyundai's 100,000/10 year guarantee, as well as the Hyundai Assurance plan, which allows purchasers to give the car back to Hyundai should the driver lose his/her job, has made Hyundai famous.

And while Korea has stayed "under the radar" during the currency skirmish occuring now, the Korean automakers will continue to take market share in the international marketplace.  Low interest rates are making things even worse, because now the Japanese have no flexibility to compete on price.  Unless cars begin to fly out of showrooms, this will not change for the foreseeable future. 

This story is nowhere near finished.  There are no easy answers for the Japanese Yen, unless there is a coordinated effort by the largest nations to simultaneously sell the Yen.  Perhaps this will occur naturally, but at this point, it does not seem very likely.  While it may be suggested that this is a process that should happen naturally, the political reality is that Japan's internal political unease will most likely continue to force the BOJ to continue alone, until there is a coordinated effort, which will need to include the Chinese.

이세상에서 외국사람들이 대한민국의 경기를 궁금하네...화이팅!

The most popular post in the Seoul Gyopo Guide has been, BY FAR, this:

Korea's Reason for Feasting This Year: The Yen's Strength

There have been over 1,500 readers of this article within the last 24 hours alone.  Perhaps this is a comment on the fact that foreigners, still, have no idea about Korea.  It is a well-known fact that many Americans (according to the newspaper) believe that Samsung is a Japanese company.  At first, I was offended when I read this.  However, I realize this was only my personal pride speaking.  It doesn't matter:  brand quality, sales, and profits matter. 

During the comments, questions to this post, which are found at, a person asked me "What do you (to me) think about the prospects for Korea over the next 5-10 years?"
At first, I laughed and thought to myself, "I cannot decide what to think over the next 5-10 minutes, so how should I answer this question."  (농담 치다)

Anyways, here was my response.

The issue, and perhaps only justification for the obvious currency manipulation of the KRW, is that Korea is not in control of many factors that will determine its economic future.  It is natural resource poor.  Its population is 50mm and not increasing so it will remain to be what I would call a "one-winged bird" that is being propelled by one of the wings, exports.  Koreans spend a great deal of their disposable income on food and education, which means that it is difficult for consumer demand to improve dramatically.  As such, any large external demand shock will hurt Korea greatly. 
The North Korea issue is one of the cost of reunification rather than war, and South Korea has watched Germany struggle for basically a decade with it.  To make it worse, Germany was then (and still is) a much larger economy and country than Korea.  Korea faces the spectre of a China and Indian set of competitors that match or beat Korean products in the future.  That these will all occur in the future is probably inevitable.  The question, to me, is the speed at which they occur. 

That all said, KoreaInc is in far better shape than its relevent competitors, and the coffers are being built up to defend its hard-fought gains.  The government supports the corporations without reservation.  At this rate, President Lee's tenure is secure (unlike B.H. Obama's).   I don't agree that Japan has fewer problems.  It has far deeper problems which make it a ship that almost cannot be turned.  Aging population (which has enormous effects on the electronics industry, i.e. does your grandmother complain about/demand new features on consumer electronics items?  Koreans do, and loudly.), and Japan's indebtedness will, over the very long term, threaten its leadership in the region.  Korea is large enough to be a global competitor in the most dynamic industries, and small enough to not be subjected to a currency war.  For now, Korea's proximity to India and China put it in the cat bird's seat.  As long as there is no long-lasting external shock, Korea should continue on this path because its market position in the world's most important industries (other than commodities), is good, particularly when adjusted for the size of the population.  At this point the ratio of GlobalBrands / population ration is probably the highest in the world.  I am not the only one with this opinion: global equity investors are putting their money on this opinion.   We will see.

Thanks again for reading and please continue commenting/criticizing these thoughts.

This key point here is that people around the world are continuing to be very curious about Korea, and the quality of information in the general press has been dominated by other Asian countries, which has allowed Korea to continue (almost unnoticed) its economic progress at a pace unimaginable 50 years ago  Personally, I was stunned to see the number of visitors to over the past few days.  I took it as a compliment on being Korean, not as the author.  Risks remain, and life will continue to be crazy in Korea, but the progress is palpable:  the increased interest in all things Korea proves that.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

영어 Hint of the Day #17: "I love you so much." 생각보다 단어가 "so" 조금만 더 힘들다

The word "so" is a little trickier than it may seem.

When you use the word "so" in a sentence, it usually implies an emotional attachment.  The best analogy that I can draw would be to the Korean phrase "죽겠어" (an almost impossible phrase for a non-native Korean speaker to both pronounce and use correctly).

(o)  Shin Mi-Na is so beautiful.  (That's a fact, right?)
(o)  신미나가 너무 예쁩니다.  (There are about 100 ways to call Shin Mi-Na beautiful in 한국말.  안그래?)

While the translations of the two sentences above are correct, the English version, "Shin Mi-Na is so beautiful" has an extra emphasis, which is not objective.  The sentence in Korean is a bit less emotional.

In short, use the word "so" when you mean something that has a strong emotional attachment.  Use a different word, such as "very," which means almost the same thing, but it would have slightly less emphasis.  The word "so" should probably be avoided in strict academic or business communication, whereas "very" is probably more acceptable.  That does NOT mean that "so" is erroneous, but there is a slightly different meaning attached with the word "so."

One very good thing about English:  once you have the command of two simple words like "so" and "very," then you do not need to learn, use, or think of, other descriptive language.  As I mentioned above, one reason that Korean is more difficult than English is that there are hundreds of ways to say the same thing in Korean, those ways are always changing, and sometimes if the pronounciation is wrong (as in 죽인다), the meaning can be totally different.  In English, everyone will understand "so" and "very" easily.

Good Luck.

The American Envy of the Korean Education System (Part 3): Can America Catch Up to Korea? Also, No.

The American Envy of the Korean Education System (Part 3): Can America Catch Up to Korea?  Again the answer is no.

Here are links to the previous posts in this series, which is going to the basis for a book I am writing about educating Korean children, and the efforts to send Korean children to English-speaking countries for high school and university.
(Part 1):
(Part 2):

It is the open question then, on whether or not the American education system can "catch up" to the Korean education system through the high school.  In one short word, the answer is no.  In addition to the difference in attitude of students with respect to mathematics, the difference can be seen in attitudes at home. 

Now, the examples I am taking here are from Gangnam, where the premium placed on education is the highest in Korea, so the examples are going to be extreme.  A student from elementary school attends how many different hagwons (study centers)?  5?  That is entirely possible.  Let's take a family with 1 child, and let's assume that each hagwon costs approximately 200,000 KRW (About 180 USD) a month.  A Korean student attends these hagwons 11 months a year.  That means 11 x 200,000 = 2,200,000 a year.  That is 2,000 USD a year per hagwon, and each student takes 5 = 2,000 x 5 = 10,000 USD for each child, in addition to normal school expenses.  Is there any chance that American students use USD 10,000 a year for private study centers?  No.  For students that are attempting to excel in Korea, the amount of money for hagwons make the savings rate for an upper middle-class family in  Every last KRW is spent on hagwons.  That is for employees of Korean corporations that make somewhere around USD 75,000 a year.  This is an inconceivable concept to an American.  Absolutely inconceivable.  Yet, for all Korean readers of this post, I am quite certain that you personally know someone that experiences this.  To my fellow Koreans, please know this:  the Americans that do not know Korea are shaking their heads in disbelief right now.

Let's talk about the time spent at hagwons.  For high school students, studying ends in the evening, and many students return home at 10-11 PM everyday.  Maybe a secondary student doesn't go on Saturday evening.  However, Sunday is certainly a study day.  For American students, except those at the very top prep schools, this study habit does not exist.  Perhaps someone from America would say that Korean students are studying inefficiently.  Perhaps that is true.  Nevertheless, even at 50% efficiency, is there any doubt that a Korean student spends more time studying, and a Korean family uses far more of their monthly resources to further a child's education?  There is, of course, one huge mitigating factor.  A Korean student dedicates a great deal of time, effort, and money to the goal of learning English, and an American student obviously does not use this amount of time to study a foreign language.

Nevertheless, the gap between the US and Korea cannot be closed without not only changes to the official education system, but more importantly, the amount of resources that the average American family dedicates to a child's education.  Is there any hope of that?  No.  Only at university does the "playing field" become more level. 

Why has this occurred?  That is the topic of Part 4 of The American Envy of the Korean Education System.

Comments welcome.  I am sure that not everyone agrees with this series.  Let's discuss it here.  Thanks.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

영어 Hint of the Day (비지너스) #10: The very useful phrase "with respect to"

영어 Hint of the Day (비지너스) #10:  The very useful phrase "with respect to"

This is a VERY useful phrase that can eliminate English errors, especially in business situations.  One difficult thing to communicate in English, for Korean native speakers, is to compare one thing to another.

There are two very good situations to use the phrase "with respect to."
1.  Comparing things from different perspectives.  Sometimes there are many different factors in a decision, and you would like to mention them all.  If you use the phrase "with respect to," there will be no errors with respect to tense or number. 

(o)  With respect to price, LG is usually cheaper than Samsung.
(o)  With respect to prestige, Samsung is usually superior.

Look at the alternatives.
(x)  LG is usually cheaper than Samsung.  (The reason that I would avoid this is that the word "cheaper" can also be known as 사구려 in everyday usage)
(x)  Samsung is more prestigious.  (Again, does this mean that LG is not prestigious?  Maybe, or maybe not.  It is left ambiguous.)

2.  "With respect to" can also be used when simply describing one single thing from a variety of different perspectives.
(o)  With respect to quality, this product is perfect.  There are almost never any defects.
(o)  With respect to features, this product is unmatched. 
Here the idea of another product existing is implied, but not named.  It doesn't matter, "with respect to" is used without error.  In addition, the points are clear, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that you haved changed the topic (from quality to features in this case) is also clear.  That is very important when speaking or writing, especially in a second language.  Using "with respect to" has made it clear that you (the speaker/writer) has changed the topic slightly.

Funny point:  "with respect to" is a formal phrase, and is used to speak professionally or academically.  It isn't used to describe people. 
(x)  With respect to face, So-Hee is cute.
(x)  With respect to body, Il-Gook is hot.

Anyways, back to the point.  This is a key phrase because it fits one of The Lost Seoul's key points:  make fewer errors by speaking and writing clearly.  There is no need for extra words because extra words means MORE MISTAKES.  By making fewer errors, you can improve your English today.

Good Luck.

드디어 중앙일보에서 이 뉴스 나왔음. 오래전 우리 불록그에서 있었다.

Once again, The Seoul Gyopo Guide has reported news before one of the most important Korean newspapers and the International Herald Tribune.

This article entitled "Few ready for currency war" addressed the risks that a currency war would present to Korean companies.  It is true:  Korean companies, more than other countries, are vulnerable to volatility in foreign exhange levels. 

There are many issues here.

First, foreign exchange movements can be partially hedged.  What does this mean?  That means that Korean companies can (and should) use financial instruments such as derivatives so that the companies do not suffer deep losses during times of foreign exchange volatility.  In the past, Korean companies hoped for volatility because the products were not yet the best when compared to foreign (largely Japanese) competition.  THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE.  In the US, the only brand more expensive than a Samsung TV is Sony.  And the price differential is not large.  In countries outside of the US, that is largely the case.  The Seoul Gyopo Guide was created, in part, to recommend these types of strategies.  One of the first posts addressed this issue:  The problem has been the misuse and/or misunderstanding of derivatives.  In the respect, the article is accurate:  Korean companies need to increase their knowledge of derivatives if they can help stabilize the companies' operations.  My suggestion:  hire a consultant when the cost cannot be managed inside the company. 

Second, foreign investors will more likely NOT violently buy and sell equities in Korean companies that hedge. The reason is that if foreign investors are aware that Korean companies are capable of managing foreign exchange risk, that would be a very important reason to remain invested in Korea's great corporations.  In the US, one example is Southwest Airlines.  The airline industry is very exposed to fluctuations with respect to the price of oil.  Southwest Airlines has been a pioneer in using hedging to reduce that exposure, and to focus investors' attention to Southwest Airlines' strategy and execution of its business.  Korean often complain that foreign investors buy and sell and buy and sell which causes instability.  Well, that exists in every other country as well.  In the US, it has been reported that the average holding period of a particular share of stock is 11 SECONDS. 

Third, JoongAngIlbo and the International Herald Tribune need to be faster in reporting these developments.  It is not only Korean companies that are affected.  Many private hospitals in Korea borrow money based on the JPY/KRW exchange rate in order to build their buildings.  Plastic surgeons borrow money based on the JPY/KRW exchange rate to lease their expensive equipment.  Wealthy individuals have been able to borrow money based on the JPY/KRW exchange rate when taking out a mortgage.  Tourism to Korea has, and will continue, to vary greatly based on the strength or weakness of the Korean Won.  Newspapers need to inform readers about these effects.

Korean companies can contact The Lost Seoul for derivative expertise, and Korean newspapers should be following the Seoul Gyopo Guide.  The Lost Seoul is strictly qualified to provide advice and opinions on these complex matters.  The initial consultation is free.  One of The Lost Seoul's greatest frustrations is the fact that too often, Korean society is filled with people/companies that "say" that they are experts, when in fact, they are not.  For that reason, the initial consultation on any of the business or educational services provided by The Lost Seoul are free of charge.  I am that confident.  (그 만금 자신이 있습니다. ) 

Good luck.

The American Envy of the Korean Education System (Part 2): Is America Uncompetitive? No.

According to most studies, the American education system is uncompetitive compared to the rest of the world.  After visiting 30 countries, and having lived in Europe, Asia and the United States, it doesn't seem that America is uncompetitive, but it focuses on a different set of students.  That emphasis is due to the vast differences in political systems and availability of resources.

First, there is no doubt that the Korean education system is more competitive than the American system through secondary school.  The reason?  Simple supply and demand.  The Korean population is now 50 million.  The American populations is approximately 300 million.  Let's ignore demographic differences for now (the Korean's average age is greater than the U.S. at the moment, and that will most likely not change for the foreseeable future).  That means that there are 6 times more students in Korea when compared to the U.S.  In Korea, the competition is intense for entry into the top universities as exhibited by the phrase (SKY).  In the U.S. competition is very intense for the top universities.  However, the number of very good universities is far, far greater than 6 times the number of top universities in the US.  Depending on the exact discipline, you could easily state that the there are 10 times more high-quality universities in the US when compared to Korea.  So there are 6 times the number of students in the US, but there 10 times the number of high-quality universities. 

Second, serious studying, for the most part, begins during university in the US.  For example, a student who gets into an average US university, but then excels at that university, has the opportunity to enter the very best graduate schools in the US.  Many, many years ago, I had a friend at college.  When I first met him, I wondered to myself, "How did this person get into this school?"  He seemed clueless.  Well four years later, he entered Harvard Law School.  There is a saying "Only in America."  Indeed. Could a similar tale be told in Korea?  Nope.  In Korea, a student that aspires to enter into the best school in the country must be serious by middle school.  Otherwise, there is almost no hope.  In other words, competition begins much earlier in Korea when compared to the US.  That does not mean that the end result is that much different, especially for the top students.  It does mean, however, that the average student has greater educational skills when raised in Korea.  Once gaining entry into Korea's prestigious SKY universities, what do the students do?  They PLAY.  Once gaining entry into a US university and having the dream of continuing on to the best US graduate schools, what does an American student do?  He STUDIES.

The idea that the US is uncompetitive is quite wrong.  It is more that Koreans study harder during younger years, and Americans study harder during later years.  The American system supports the best rising to the top when becoming adults, whereas the Korean education system emphasizes greater ability by the average student.  The best Korean students peak before becoming adults, generally speaking. 

Making matters worse is the obligatory military service served by Korean males.  While you can certainly make arguments supportive of the military service, the fact is that when males are in their early 20s, is there any better time to learn?  Young men have the physical ability to endure long hours of studying and the energy to pursue their dreams.  At precisely that time, Korean males need to serve in the military.  Americans?  They are able to focus on their studies when they still have great capacity, and maturity, to learn.  In that way, the Korean system, I have always believed, is quite unfair in many ways to the young men of Korea.

These are, of course, generalizations.  They are observations of the systems, not of individual cases.  The fact that these systems are this different explains why Korean students that attend to the top American universities do not meet the lofty expectations when in America.  That is the topic of Part 3.

Let me know what you think!  Thanks

The Lost Seoul

S. Korea Government Studying `Several' Measures to Control Capital Flows. 또? 아직도 하나 안배웠습니까?

Today, this article appeared on

The reason for these measures would be to control the rise of the Korean Won against the US dollar.  This article has pointed out that the Korean Won has increased by 6.6% over the recent past, which would make Korea the 3rd strongest amongst non-Japan Asian countries. 

Even Bloomberg has it wrong.  Compared to the USD, yes the KRW has appreciated.  However, today the EUR/KRW has increased to 1575 from approximately 1480 two months ago.  In addition, the JPY/KRW exchange rate has increased to 13.9 from a low of 13.35 in the middle of September.  You can read my observation that the elevated JPY/KRW has created for Japan in my post here: 

The problem here is that measures to control the foreign exchange rate of countries of Korea's GDP and capital flows almost always fails.  Take the Japanese example.  Recently, the Yen hasn't weakened at all despite repeated public comments, and foreign exchange intervention by the Bank of Japan.  During the financial crisis of 2008, the BOK tried to actually defend its currency but instead, the Won depreciated by approximately 20% from the levels it tried to defend.  Why is that?  The global capital flows were larger than the amount of intervention.  Quite simple, really.

This time, Korea is trying to weaken its currency, in order to keep its competitive advantage in the international marketplace for exports.  World-class Korean products are relatively cheap compared to European and Japanese competition already.    In addition, Korean citizens will experience a much greater risk of inflation in the near-term.  Normally, interest rates need to increased in order to quell inflation.  Doing so, when the rest of the world (except Australia) is keeping interest rates steady (and the U.S. is effectively lowering rates), will lead to increased demand for the Won. 

Longer-term, the proposals considered by the BOK will weaken Korea's position in the global economy.  Unilateral attempts to affect currency levels are not only almost always unsuccessful, but the countries that attempt to do so are perceived to be weak.  The Swiss National Bank and BOJ are the two most recent exaples.  No one believes in what these institutions are doing any longer.  The result of the proposals considered by the BOK would inevitably be that when Korea wants to attract additional capital, it will not be able to spur demand for the KRW quickly enough.

In other words, unnatural measures will lead to unnatural circumstances  The victims? Korean citizens.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The American Envy of the Korean Education System (Part 1): "수학 잘 공부했어요?" "응?"

Korea has returned to the spotlight of the international community as a result the upcoming G20 Summit in Seoul.  As usual, there is the press release about President Obama's envy of the Korean educational system.  These comments, which have been made a number of times, are not useful to Americans who are trying to figure out how to close the gap between the US and the remainder of the world.  The American president has pointed out the obvious facts, but does not address how to fix the fundamental differences between the Korean and American educational systems.  Either President Obama is intentionally avoiding the most important differences, or he just doesn't know.

Here is the link to the most recent comments:

The differences are too great to list.  In the future, The Lost Seoul will most likely write a book aim at both Koreans and Americans to describe the most important of these differences. 

Here is a glaring example of the most important of the differences:  attitude.
I have asked many Koreans in Korea the following question:  "수학 잘 공부했어요?"  In the US, this is an actual question.  According to the way that Americans think, and believe, "being good at math" is a natural-born ability.  There are people, according to Americans, that are good at math, and there are others who are not.  Those that do not believe that they are "good" at math essentially stop studying math early during secondary school. 
When I have asked this question, the response has been universal.  "Huh?"  "What does that mean?"  "응?"  This question doesn't exist in Korea.  In Korea, students just practice math and solve problems.  That is it. A Korean student doesn't think whether or not he is "good" at math, he/she just continues forward without the attitudinal barrier that exists in American students.

With this as a starting point, is there any way for an average American student to compete with an Korean student?  The answer should be obvious.  Nope.  American students have received this attitude from their parents.  So before the US can even think about trying to narrow the difference in the most important subject in education, there is a desperate need for change,  in the American attitude.  Until then, different policies and other efforts will surely fail.

영어 (비지너스) Hint of the Day #9: 영어로 어떻게 인사할까? 외국분들이 한국에 도착하는데....

These are the best ways to introduce yourself in English.  Since there will be many visitors to Korea in the coming days, you should try to be comfortable in using these.  They are very flexible. 

In Korean, 처음 봽겠읍니다 is probably closest in formality to "How do you do," or "It's a pleasure meeting you." 
In Korean, 방가워요 is of course perfectly acceptable amongst friends, and "안영"  is obviously inappropriate for use in a business meeting.

English is similar in many ways.  Below are greetings that can be used in business settings.  I recommend picking one, and becoming confident in it.  You may believe that you are being repetitive, but since the listener is always changing, it is a unique greeting to the listener, so it is no problem.

(o)  Nice to meet you.  I'm [JH Kim].
(o)  Nice meeting you.
(o)  Very nice to meet you. 
(o)  Very good to meet you.
(o)  It's a pleasure meeting you.  (This is quite formal.  Not really for meeting peers.)
(x)  How do you do?  (This is not widely used currently.  It is not incorrect in any way, but it is not used).
(x)  Greetings.  (Again, this is not wrong but it is not commonly used). 
(x)  What's up?  or Hey (This is for friends only, and not to be used in business settings.  However, these are common phrases used between friends.)

It seems like a lot, but you only need to be comfortable in using one, and then use it over and over.  It will be perfectly acceptable.

Good luck,
The Lost Seoul

Thursday, October 21, 2010

영어 (비지너스) Hint of the Day #8: 조선일보 잘 못 했어요. 영어 안 되고 메시지도 안 된다

영어 (비지너스) Hint of the Day #8:  조선일보 잘 못 했어요.  영어 안 되고 메시지도 안 된다

Today, this article appeared in the Chosun Ilbo:  'Oil Price 'to Exceed $100 Next Year.'

First the phrase "Oil Price" is not used.  It should have been "The Price of Oil."  As I have written in the past, one of the most important things for those learning English is to master articles:  the words "a, an, the."  Perhaps, the writers at Chosun Ilbo should have read my post:

This is a huge disservice to the Korean people.  The article actually says that it is Goldman Sachs' projection, which can be correct, or incorrect.  For example, all large securities firms are correct at times, and incorrect at others.  In addition, the world also has has, and is changing rapidly.  Therefore, it is still uncertain.  The report itself goes on to point out factors that affected its projection.  However, that does not make the outcome certain, and the headline makes it seem as if oil is certain to exceed $100.

Here is what should have been written.

(x)  Oil Price to Exceed $100 Next Year
(o)  Oil Could Exceed $100 Next Year According to Goldman
(o)  The Price of Oil Could Exceed $100 Next Year:  Goldman

In short, there are two errors.  First, the grammar is not correct.  Secondly, the storyline itself is inaccurate, and misinforms those people who are scanning headlines.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

iPad is Great...if people on the street call you 할머니

The iPad is going to arrive in Korea very shortly.  Today, this article was posted in the Korea Herald.

In the U.S., the iPad, at first, was everywhere. It is being sold at Apple stores, at an electronics store (similar to an eMart in Korea), and also at Verizon (the American version of SK Telecom).  There are many iPad applications, which are largely available on the iPhone and iPod Touch.  However, unlike the iPhone and the iPod Touch (I own the iPod Touch myself), the iPad is too limited for actual use, unless you have very young children, or are a grandmother/grandfather.

As usual, all the great photo album applications and iTunes, the App Store are all available.  The keyboard is actually quite good:  the keys are naturally spaced from each other.  There are some pretty nice iPad-only applications as well.  For ebook reading, the iPad may be the best.  Amazon's Kindle is very popular in the U.S., and non-existent in Korea, as result of the huge number of book publishers in Korea, who have very obviously tried to prevent widespread use of eBooks. 

However, let me briefly explain why the iPad has missed sales expectations in the U.S.  First, the price.  It will be twice as expensive as any netbook.  It will be as expensive, if not more expensive, than an average notebook.  It does NOT have a hard drive.  It has no USB ports.  It does have WiFi.   And that is it.  Some of the best features, such as video rental, will not be available in Korea. 

So while, the iPad is a beautiful looking machine, and of course, the applications work seamlessly, it just does not have the functionality to justify the price.  For feature-hungry Koreans, there will be great interest, the decline of that interest will also likely be rapid.  Koreans learn quickly, which means that after the first set of buyers, who are dedicated to all things Apple, will not be able to convince those who are more skeptical.  So unless you are a 할머니, it probably won't work for demanding Korean consumers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Korean Supreme Court Acquits Defendant in KEB (외환은햏) Sale. Finally.

Recently, the Korean Supreme Court acquitted the defendant in the Korea Exchange Bank sale to Lone Star, a private equity firm.  This was long overdue, but it is a very good precedent for Korea, and the advancement of Korea into the international business community.

You may have heard about this case.  KEB was sold to Lone Star during the financial crisis which began in 1998, when Russia defaulted on its sovereign debt. 

There are a large number of details but here are the highlights.
a.  At the time, Korean sovereign debt traded at a yield of over 13% for 10 years.
b.  Korean banks were largely seen as insolvent as a result of over-concentration to large Chaebols.
c.  Daewoo and Hyundai Group faced great finanical difficulty, and only huge reorganization saved the healthy subsidiaries such as Hyundai Heavy.
d.  KAMCO (Korea Asset Management Corporation) was formed to bail out failed Korean banks and take many of the bad assets from the failing banks.  This is now a template of sorts for other countries around the world.
e.  KEB was sold to Lone Star at a time when the debt of KEB was trading in the market at 15-25% of face value (i.e. 75%-85% loss on initial investment)

There have been a number of lawsuits which have challenged the legality of the KEB sale.  Most (if not all) have been politically motivated.  It has been a very embarrassing tale, where Korea has, AFTER THE FACT, opposed the sale of KEB to a foreign investor.  This case has threatened Korea's position in the global economy. 

Here is why.
a.  Opposition centered on the price that KEB was sold to Lone Star.  The fact is that debt was trading in the open market at 15-25% at that time.  Since it is clear that the market did not believe that KEB could even pay for its debts, the equity was effectively worth zero in the open market.  Court cases have been made up to suggest that there was an understatement of book value.  Book value is irrelevent when selling assets.  It is like a customer paying full retail price for a luxury product, when everyone on Gmarket and eBay knows that you can buy the product substantially cheaper.
b.  There was no mention of the large number of financial regulatory bodies in place at the time of the sale.  KDB guaranteed assets of banks.  KAMCO bought entire portfolio of banks, and bought stakes of banks themselves. MOFE and FSS both could have blocked a sale.  None of these bodies prevented the sale before the fact.  The court was used to complain only after the fact, when there was political uproar.
c.  There were no other bidders for KEB.  None.
d.  Perhaps worst, these developments occurred after there was an agreeement.  Preventing a sale as a result of the "national interest," also known as protectionism, is, and has been, used during times of economic strife.  For example, currently there is the belief that Canada would block the sale of Potash Corporation to a consortium led by Chinese entities.  In France, Finance Minister Sarkozy (now the President) told the world that a sale of Alstom would not be allowed.  However, these are all occurring or occurred before a sale agreement is/was reached. 

The Korean Supreme Court has correctly pointed out that at the time of the sale, it would be almost impossible to ascertain whether or not the sale took place at the "wrong" price.  I would have stated it even more strongly.  However, the fact that the court system in Korea has worked is welcome news for Korea's place in the international financial community.

Travelling to Seoul for the G20 Summit? Travel tips for foreigners. READ THIS or be stuck in traffic.

The population of greater Seoul is approaching 25mm.  Manhattan's population is approximately 15mm.  Get the idea?  Seoul is bigger, and busier than NY.  I have lived in both, and if you believe that Seoul is still a war-torn, emerging market capitol, then you need to THINK AGAIN.

One excellent thing about Seoul:  the transportation system is very organized and quite rational, given the size of the city and the density of the population.  Here is what you absolutely, positively, need to know.

a.  If you are coming from Incheon International Airport, you need to determine whether you are going north or south of the Han River.  The Han River essentially divides the two halves of Seoul, and where you are going will affect the mode of transportation to take from the airport.

b.  If you are going north of the Han River (call Gang-Buk pronounced Gang-boooook), then taking the Express Train to Seoul Station is the best, unless you are going to a very specific hotel like the Shilla, Westin, or Hyatt Grand.  It is my opinion that taking the Express Train is the fastest and easiest to Seoul Station (pronounced Seoul-yuck).  From there, you can take a taxi.

c.  If you are going south of the Han River , then best way is to take an Express Bus to COEX (otherwise known as World Trade Center) Express Bus Terminal.  It is direct, and will take from 50-65 minutes (with almost no variance from that).  It costs about 11,000 KRW (10 USD).   There are many, many buses going to every corner of Seoul, if you are very experienced in travelling in Korea, then you can find a bus that takes you closer to your exact destination.  That said, it can be quite confusing given the number of buses.  If you take the wrong bus, well, you will be lost in the 5th largest city in the world.  From COEX,  you can again take a taxi.

d.  I do not recommend a taxi.  Why?  One word.  traffic.  It is a total crapshoot getting into Seoul if you are stuck on the wrong road entering Seoul from the main expressway (called 88).  One wrong selection by your cab driver means 30-60 extra minutes.  The train and the bus are relaible, and clean.  Forget comparing them to Amtrak and Greyhound.  They are not comparable.  Not even close. 

e.  Once in Seoul, take taxis but leave yourself a LOT of time.  If you are travelling within any business district, such as Gangnam, or near City Hall, traffic can increase your travel time by an hour greater than expectation.  AN HOUR.  If you are going from one of those two areas to the other (Gangnam, City Hall), then you should assume that it will take 60 minutes to cross the Han River and then it can take another 20-40 minutes to get to your destination. 

f.  You can take the subway as a foreigner because all of the signs are now translated to English.  However, you need to know that there is no concept of "express" stops as there are in Manhattan.  They are ALL "local" lines.  They will be very crowded during rush hour (think Penn Station subways at rush hour).  That said, it will take 50 minutes with almost no variance in timing to get from Gangnam to the City Hall area.  The prices are incompable:  at most, a one-way ticket on the subway is at most USD 1.75.  Here is a link to the official subway map of Seoul:

Well, those are the broad strokes.  You can read some other posts here on this blog in order to get some more pointers, which will be aimed at foreigners visiting Seoul, an amazing, vibrant city.  My favorite megapolis in the world.  Not even close, and that includes New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.  Seoul is the best.  I may be biased, but there it is.

영어 Hint of the Day #16: "I could not care less" OR "I could care less." 상관 있어요?

영어 Hint of the Day #16:  I could not care less OR I could care less.  Which one is right?

"I couldn't care less" translates to 상관 없어요, except that it is used in situations when it really doesn't matter. 

When something does not matter to the speaker, than the speaker could say:
(o)  It does not matter to me.
(o)  I don't care.
(o)  I couldn't care less.
(x)  I could care less.

This phrase should not be used when speaking to people that you respect.  It is used is a very negative way.  For example, it is not appropriate when choosing choosing something to eat.  It is usually a phrase used when you may strongly dislike all of the options.  In that way, it is a bit stronger than 상관 없어요.  Neither phrase is used when speaking in formal situations, and not when the speaker wants to speak politely. 

Many native English speakers actually use this phrase incorrectly, and say "I could care less."  There isn't any real reason that this occurs, other than the fact that someone has learned incorrectly, developed a bad habit, and continues to use the wrong phrase.  Now, the fact is that "I could care less" could also mean "I care more."  So logically, the phrase does not make sense when spoken as "I could care less." 

If you think that you have heard someone say "I could care less," the speaker really meant "I couldn't care less."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

영어 Hint of the Day #15: The Rovely Retter “R” Pronouncing the letter "R" Correctly

영어 Hint of the Day #15:  The Rovely Retter “R”  Pronouncing the letter "R" Correctly

I think that the letter “R,” is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, single letter for Koreans to pronounce.  Like the letter “L,” it is quite closely related to the Hangul “ㄹ.”  Every translation of the English sound “R” is basically….wrong.  The reason this happens?  Pronunciation in Korean uses very even and flat intonation with equal weight given to each sound.  In addition, the accent, if any, is on the very first sound when speaking Korean.  That is NOT the case in English, and accents can be on any syllable.

My single best hint for Koreans when pronouncing the “R” sound?  Make the sound for a LONG time.
Instead of “world,” pronounce it as “worrrld.”
Instead of “word,” pronounce it as “worrrrd.”

It is, of course, impossible to list all of the words that have the “R” sound.  It is one of the most dominant sounds in the English language.  So try my pronunciation hints above to improve.
Onwarrrd, and upwarrrd….

영어 (비지너스) Hint of the Day #7: Use the phrase "Enclosed please find…"

영어 (비지너스) Hint of the Day #7:  Use the phrase "Enclosed please find…"

You probably receive 100 e-mail messages  a day.  Frequently, you will need to send a spreadsheet, or a document, along with an e-mail or a package.  In those instances, it is important to know, and to be able to use the phrase “Enclosed please find…”  It is the most correct time and place for the use of this phrase.  You don’t use this phrase when sending a personal letter to a friend.  It is too formal for that purpose.

(o)  "Enclosed please find the analysis that I have completed.”  This sentence can be used when sending a physical spreadsheet.  In addition, it can also be used in an e-mail when there is an attachment (you may need to change the word “analysis.”)

You can use this phrase at any time that there are attachments of any sort.  For example, if you send a letter, along with a contract, then you can say:

(o)  "Enclosed please find a copy of the terms of the contract."
(o)  "Enclosed please find the graphs which support my conclusions."

"Enclosed please find" is a very versatile, and professional phrase when used correctly.

회폐전쟹: 이 책을 믿을 수 없음


In my life in financial markets, this is perhaps one of the worst books I have ever read.  The fact that it was so popular in Korea is embarrassing to me as a Korean.  Koreans read this book, and asked me about the theories in this book.  I found it very difficult to answer without laughing.  On the other hand, the author needs to be congratulated for being able to sell this piece of junk as if it were fact, and was able to get so many people to believe the ideas in this book.

"Currency Wars" is a very fancy name, and the title has implications of conspiracy and collusion.  Now, let me make some thing perfectly clear.  There is almost no doubt that the central banks of nations, at times, do work collectively together in order to try to affect the relative value of currencies.  At times, individual central banks try to affect the foreign exchange rate of its own currency.  Over the past 3 months, the Swiss, the Japanese, and yes, the Korean central bank have all acted in the foreign exchange markets to attempt to affect the value of its currency.  In each of the recent cases, central banks have tried to devalue its own currency, i.e. make its own currency cheaper, so that the products made by companies in that country are relatively cheap on the international market.  You can read my post here to illustrate how Korea has benefitted greatly by the Japanese Yen appreciation in the foreign exchange markets:
However, the idea that a group of people is trying to systematically harm another country in order to preserve some type of global order is wrong.  The ebb and flow of foreign exchange, and the resulting trade imbalances would prevent this.  If Japan's foreign exchange rate was this strong and Japanese companies experienced large losses and layoffs, then wages would decline, would make Japanese products cheaper in the marketplace, and so on.  In other words, it would be impossible to permanently conspire in order to keep some type of global order.   In the end, quality of products, technology, access to resources, and other fundamental economic drivers will not be denied. 

The idea of 회폐전쟹 is that there is a fundamental problem with governments printing paper money.  The fact is that printing money, and controlling the money supply is the only policy tool that can smooth out economic imbalances and inflation.  There are many levels of debate regarding the level of the amount of money being printed.  For example, the United States and Europe are, via the phrase "Quantitative Easing" are buying assets, like bonds and stocks, with paper money in order to increase the amount of money in the market.  There is the Korean phrase "돈 돌라 벗다," or something similar.  Well, that is the concept here.  The US and European central banks have purchased their own bonds in order to increase the amount of money going around, so that prices of assets will increase.  The negative side of this is that if this amount of money grows too quickly, then inflation will occur. 

Do you know why I am particularly annoyed by this book?  I am most annoyed that this book was so popular in Korea.  It is factually wrong, and it suggested fantasies of conspiracy.  This is a fundamental problem of Korea, even now.  Due to its history of one leader, and a militaristic background, there is an overbearing suspicion of authority.  In the rest of the world, however, there is the idea that money moves freely, and from the places that can generate profits, and away from the places that will generate losses, without regard to borders, the name of the country, or the ethnic background of the people.  Korean society, in general, does not embrace the belief in the concept of shareholders' rights.  This is changing, gradually.  But the attitude that the dictator is dominant, and is successful, has not.  Korea needs to embrace the idea that capital can and should move freely.  Consumers will choose the best products at the best prices.  That will affect the foreign exchange rates.  The pace of that change will increase as the pace of change in the increases.  In the 1950s, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world.  Now, it is a fact that Korea is one of the richest.  It has products that are globally competitive in many of the most important industries in the world.  It must fully embrace not only the practices of the global community, but it must not be paranoid of conspiracy theories like the ones in  회폐전쟹.  Blaming conspiracies is a flaw of the weak, and Korea is weak no longer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

영어 Hint of the Day (비지너스) #6: 하브드 MBA Making a Speech in Front of an Audience.

Here is a Harvard Business Review Tip of the Day.  These are very good points, especially for those speaking in a foreign language, like English.

대한민국 원 때문에 일본 경기가 안된다. 불평 했는데....

It is not large news in the international press, but make no mistake:  the JPY/KRW foreign exchange rate is making Japan very uncomfortable, and now the G20 meeting in Seoul could potentially be the location of even further confrontation.

The South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has joined the conversation:

On September 20, I posted the following, which explained why Korean companies are doing well these days in international markets.

The problem with the JPY strength in the world is that Japanese companies' products are getting more expensive and less profitable in the international markets everyday.  Any demand from China, the US, or Europe is more likely going for Korean, and other Asian-made products.   The Bank of Korea (BOK) has, since the financial crisis began, has acted to keep the KRW weak relative to the USD because it has correctly determined that the global demand for products is fragile.  Nevertheless, it will be very interesting to see if the BOK gives in to international pressure which is pushing for a stronger KRW.

It isn't likely that this rhetoric from Japan will cease until the JPY/KRW exchange rate declines.

Monday, October 11, 2010

영어 Hint of the Day #14: It's not 터, it is "the." Pronouncing "th" correctly

There are two reasons that sounds in English are not the same as in Korean, and the sound of ”th” as in the words “the,” “this,” and “that” are some simple examples.  Those reasons are:
 1.  Your mouth, tongue, lips and teeth are put into different position in English, even if you originally think that the sound is similar.
2.  Inaccurate translation leads to a “learned” word which turns out to have a heavy accent.   As a result, “Konglish” words when spoken as English, are heavily accented.

The sound of “th” must be made by taking your tongue and putting it between your top and bottom teeth.  The tip of your tongue must be visible to the person to whom you are talking.  This type of position doesn’t exist when you speak Korean:  that is why it feels strange, and that is why it needs practice.  The picture above is the way that your mouth should look like when pronouncing "th."

To make matters worse, you can easily find words in hangul that are trying to represent English words.  The word “the” is a prime example.  You can find signs in Korea that translate the word “the” into “터.”  It is wrong.  That is not the sound of the word “the.”  Practice it the way I suggest above to get it right.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

영어 Hint of the Day #13 영어로 "한잔" 있어요? 네 근데 다른 말이 있음.

In Korean, "한잔" has a particular meaning.  Strictly speaking, it translates to "one glass (cup)."  Of course, ths is wrong and it highlights the very different cultures.  Given the fact that there is 눈치 in Korea, and you are obligated to drink if offered by your boss or elder, "한잔" in Korean means, in English, "went drinking."  The implied meaning may (or may not) be that you got drunk.

In English, there is the option of drinking to the point of drunkedness, or not.  If you are speaking English, I had "one glass" of wine means exactly that, without the nuance of drunkedness.  Why does this exist?  It exists because it is more acceptable to just have one or two bottles of beer, or wine, and then stop, even when there are superiors.  Since that is the case, you can say in English, "I had a beer with a friend," and it does not necessarily mean that you were up late drinking.  It may been the case that you had one glass of wine, and then went home.

As you probably well know, in Korea, that is almost never the case.