Top Survival Tips in Working for a Korean Boss or a Korean Company

Having worked for a Korean company and Korean bosses for more than 5 years now, I’ve compiled these tips for people planning to do the same. Trust me, there will be instances when you’ll blame cultural differences for misunderstandings. And there’ll be times when language barrier becomes an issue, but your experience will be worth it.

In the Philippines, Korean companies based in the country are usually involved in the following: online English teaching, learning academies, summer camps, and mini stores.

So without further ado, I give you tips on not only how to survive in a Korean-owned organization, but to also work harmoniously with your Korean bosses.

1. Your attendance slate should be squeaky clean.
There’s nothing that Koreans hate about their employees more than tardiness and absence. If there’s a spot for promotion, the first thing that they’ll consider is your attendance. You can always have a valid excuse like sickness or personal matters, of course, but they won’t buy it. Koreans are known to be an enduring people. So they’d rather see you sick in the office than to wonder if you really are at home.

2. Adopt a “yes-man” attitude.
You read that right. Say yes all the time, even if you don’t have any idea of what to do. Koreans, just like other East Asians, are reserved individuals, and the “yes-man” attitude is part of their culture. Sure, you can speak your mind, but never, ever carry an argumentative or authoritative tone. State your opinion calmly, nicely, and very politely.

As they say, attitude in the workplace is everything. They sure can put up with a strong personality, but they prefer someone who is silent, reserved, and someone who can control her / his emotions. So if you have a strong personality, you must learn how to tone it down. Or better yet, leave it at home or somewhere else.

3. Don’t expect lots of bonuses.
Unlike the Japanese, Koreans have a reputation of being miserly. With the exception of a few Korean employers, of course, they’ll only pay what they signed in the contract. That said, while they like it when you work overtime, they’re not obliged to pay you for those extra hours. So it’s best that you come to work on time, and leave on time.

4. Stretch your patience.
There will be clashes caused by cultural differences and language barriers. So stretch your patience to the farthest it can go. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or clarifications to prevent any misunderstanding. Have you worked for a Korean company / boss before? Do you have any tips to share?

5. You don’t have to learn Korean.
English is fine, but if you know how to speak Korean, the better.

Try the best Korean noodles! Kamsa hamnida (Thank you!)