First Impressions of South Korea at Samsung Electronicsby Samsung Employee from Russia, Doctor of Sciences, MSU
1. Samsung and South Korea
The Samsung Group includes Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung Display Interface (SDI), Samsung Constructions, Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung Chemicals, and some other structural groups. The Samsung Electronics Headquarters are located in Suwon City, 25 miles to the south of Seoul. The city itself and the area close to it are totally under the Samsung influence. The Samsung Electronics area in Suwon City contains several assembling plants, DMC RnD Centers, Hangyong Plaza, a football stadium, and many other facilities. The international family of Samsung Electronics is composed mainly of Russians and Indians. The latter are mostly software developers. The Chinese community is also large at Samsung Electronics. Few people are from France, Poland, U.S., Japan, and Indonesia. Samsung Electronics pays much attention to the unification of its international family. As a result, the meetings are held regularly with foreign employees.
2. Climate and Weather
It is hot in summer (+25 to +30°C), spring, and autumn. However, it is moderately cold in winter (-5°C at night). Spring, autumn, and especially winter are dry. It is typically one rain during a week in late autumn, and practically no precipitation in winter. One month a year, in July, it rains heavily.
There are no dogs, no cats, no birds (except for magpies), no mosquitoes, and no other insects. Special chemical reagents kill mosquitoes almost completely. However, special anti-mosquito grids are used in each typical apartment.
Today is the 26th of December. There is no snow: it is sunny. There is no dirt in the streets all the year round. No dust. I bought my new shoes in mid November, and they did not know the brush yet. In our apartment, it is always warm because the heating goes from the floor, not from the walls, as it does in Russian buildings.
Samsung Electronics has its own district in Suwon City where practically all foreign families live. The buildings normally consist of 20 stories. They are composed of two blocks with two apartments only at each floor in the block. Each block has its separate entrance and one elevator. An electronic watch on the wall, a mirror, and a freely hanging fire extinguisher are the typical elements of the lobby. It is so unusual for us, Russians.
Each block of buildings has its own patio, where children can play day and night. It is absolutely safe. There is a special TV channel monitoring what is going on in the patio, and you can switch your TV set to watch your kids.
Samsung Electronics provides its employees with a typical 80 sq. m. three-bedroom apartment. We use one big room as a sitting room, Rita and I use the second room as a bedroom, the third small room serves as a bedroom for Alex, and the fourth one acts as Alex's cabinet.
The kitchen is rather small, and so is the bathroom. Three large balconies accompany all this. Samsung Electronics generously provides all the necessary furniture and electronics, including a double-bed, wardrobes, tables for both the kitchen and the cabinet, chairs, arm-chair for the cabinet, a sofa set, as well as some other items. In our apartment, we found a powerful split-system conditioner (in the left corner), TV set, DVD player, telephone with a radio extension handset, lamp, washing vacuum cleaner, UHF oven, rice boiler, and finally a huge fully automatic washing machine for 13 kg of washing. All the electronics was manufactured by Samsung and has been working ideally so far.
Samsung Electronics pays for the apartment rental. The employee has to pay for the maintenance fee only, which is as small as about $100 per month. The maintenance fee includes the telephone, electricity, gas, water, heat, garbage, elevator, etc.
Samsung Electronics provides its employees with good salaries. According to the laws of the Republic of Korea, international specialists are exempt from tax for the first 5 years of their work in Korea. This makes shopping a pleasure. In a five-minute walk from our building, there is a huge six-story supermarket called Home Plus which belongs to Samsung. One can find everything there.
Children have to go to the Russian Embassy School in Seoul by a Samsung shuttle bus. The bus comes as early as 6:30 a.m. The school starts at 9:00 a.m. So, around one hour the children spend at the Samsung Central Office. From school, children come back at around 4:00 p.m. The Russian Embassy School in Seoul is profiled for deep English language studies. Typically, there are as few as 10 to 12 pupils in a class, which makes lessons easy and comfortable. Classes are equipped well. The picture (on the left) shows the 7th grade class together with the class teacher during the Christmas Holiday.
The streets of Suwon City are always clean and please the eye. Many park areas are carefully cared such as this ancient tree in the picture (on the left).