We kicked off the day with a visit to Trainor Korea, a business that certifies other companies in electrical safety. Trainor was originally founded in Norway before expanding to other locations such as Korea, and our Swedish presenter spent some time discussing his (and the company’s) experiences working in a foreign country. He explained that Korea, while it is an extremely safe country, often struggles to keep a work-life balance – something that has been mentioned by other companies and even Dr. Yun previously. South Korea’s sudden and immense economic prosperity is often attributed to the citizens’ strong work ethic, but I wonder how much positive impact it has on the Korean people if they consistently choose work over their families and personal lives. This also made me think about the “Bali Bali” (“hurry hurry”) culture that is often mentioned in a casual manner – yes, it is good to value purpose and efficiency, but given Korea’s issue with work-life balance I wonder if this aspect of the country should be thought of so lightheartedly.
Next up was lunch. The sight of huge bowls of noodles is always a good one, but I quickly realized that they were being served in a bath of ice water. I can see how this dish could be refreshing (Korean summers can be brutally hot), but I don’t think it’s for me. The dumplings on the side, however, were steaming hot, delicate, and delicious.
Our second company visit was at Busan New Container Terminal, which coordinates shipments for various companies in their absolutely massive shipyard. The CEO (who, incidentally, has worked in Charleston, Sicily, Hong Kong and now Busan) brought us up to the control room overlooking the company harbor. The entire shipping yard at BNCT is automated, with gigantic robotic arms picking up and setting down 40-foot containers in a synchronized fashion. It’s crazy to me that in this vast, constantly moving shipyard, not one person needs to be there to make it run.
Arriving back at our hotel, Jasmine and I decided to walk down the street to the Lotte Mall. While we were there, I affirmed two things about modern Korean fashion. First, it is incredibly popular to wear clothes with seemingly nonsensical English sayings on them (see below). I can’t figure out why, and the sayings are so prevalent and obscure that I can’t believe it’s a simple translation error. Regardless, the result is pretty funny to me as a native English speaker. The second thing I have been noticing about Korean fashion is that it is distinctly more conservative and formal than American fashion. From seeing high heels in Gyeongju world to long skirts in 70-degree weather, clothing here is much different than what I am used to seeing at home. Before this trip, I knew Korea would be more formal, but I expected that to mostly apply to older people. However, I’ve passed countless girls my age wearing full-length dresses and long skirts, things I would never wear on a casual day back home. Being around this type of fashion starts to rub off on you, though, and so I ended up buying a long skirt similar to the ones I’ve seen throughout my time here. Hopefully I can pull it off!