Monday, October 8, 2012

LTW - Reading Champs, Psy Does Google Style, & Longer Range Missles

1. National
1) Korean students top in study on reading abilities

According to the recent OECD study titled “Education at a glance,” Korean students ranked top in their reading abilities among those in the 34 OECD nations and 8 non-OECD countries. Korean students scored 504 with mother with low education level, and 555 with mother with high education on OECD’s PISA reading assessment, while the OECD average score was 453 and 520 respectively.  PISA(Programme for International Student Assessment) is administered by the OECD every three years to provide nations of their progress in education by measuring the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in their respective languages.

There are two reasons for Koreans doing so well in reading. The first is that Korean alphabet invented in1443 is so easy to learn that even those with Paris Hilton IQ can read and write Gangnam Style lyrics after four hours of Korean class with me. The second is Korean mothers’ passion to have their children get education much ahead of normal curriculum. Korean babies begin to learn calculus at their mom’s womb.

2) S.Korea gets tentative permission for longer range missiles
It is about 400km from Busan to Seoul. As South Korea can keep missile with max 300km range under current missile range pact with the U.S., the missiles fired in Busan will drop in south of Seoul, like Pyeongtaek, instead of Pyongyang. Korean government thus recently made a strong push to the U.S., and got agreement to extend the range to 800km. Washington so far has objected to the longer range out of concern the ballistic missiles fired in S.Korea may reach China or Japan. With new 800 km limit, the missiles fired in S.Korea can hit targets any location in North Korea, but not Beijing or Tokyo.
Why does Barack Obama so much worry about South Korea’s missile range?  Kim Jong-un in North Korea is toying with missiles inherited from his father that can hit targets in Alaska, and Hu Jintao seems to have no problem with it. 

2. Economy
1) Samsung brand value rated top 10

Samsung ranked 9th in this year’s Best Global Brands by Interbrand, the world’s largest brand consulting company. It was the first time a Korean company got its brand value inside the Top 10. Hyundai Motor went up eight notches from last year to 53rd while its sister Kia ranked 87th, entering into Top 100 for the first time. Samsung’s brand value was estimated at $32.9 billion, while Hyundai and Kia’s were $7.5 billion and $4.1 billion respectively. The No.1 was Coca Cola with $77.8 billion, followed by Apple, IBM, Google and Microsoft. Three aspects are considered for brand value; the financial performance of the products, the role of the brand in consumers’ decision making process, and the overall strength of the brand.
 While Samsung has grown so much from nothing in the 50’s to No.9, it has been criticized for being greedy enough to get into small mom & pop store business. Lee Bu-jin, Samsung owner’s first daughter, founded Artisee Boulangerie, a bakery business, in 2006, but had to pull out grudgingly recently after huge criticism from the public. Imagine Bill Gates’ kids getting into chewing gum business.

2) Google CEO visits Korea
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was in Seoul to introduce Google's first tablet PC, the Nexus 7. Schmidt also visited Samsung's headquarter in Gangnam to meet with Samsung's vice chairman and other top ranking officials. Schmidt did not mention whether he supports Samsung on its patent court battles against Apple, but he commented "one of the worst things has happened because there are so many patents in the mobile world that are overlapping and complicated." As Google’s Android is in most of Samsung’s smart phones, Samsung and Google are thought to be good friends against Apple.
Schmidt failed to meet with Korea’s richest man, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, but that was no problem as he instead met with the most known Korean celebrity, PSY. Instead of hours of stressful money talk with Chairman Lee, Schmidt chose to spend leisurely time to learn how to horse dance to "Oppan Gangnam style!"

3. Auto Industry
1) Hyundai employees get the best salaries

According to a survey by, a conglomerate research firm, Hyundai Motor is offering the highest salary to its employees of 193 listed firms affiliated to the top 30 conglomerates by paying an average annual salary of $89.34 million won ($79,767) last year. This was the first time a company in manufacturing sector took the No.l spot. The average annual salary at the 30 conglomerates were at 63.49 million won ($56,687). Samsung Life Insurance ranked 2nd with 89.1 million won followed by SK Securities (85.1 million) and Kia Motors (84.9 million). World brand value No.9 Samsung Electronics came 11th with 77.6 million won.

It is good to see Hyundai pays the best salary in Korea as Hyundai is doing very well. It is, however, a bit frustrating that the employees at most of Hyundai suppliers are getting less than one third of what Hyundai workers get, even though their work intensity can be much harsher. Well, the world is not fair, I guess. Usain Bolt make millions of dollars after running less than10 seconds, while an Olympic marathon winner can earn only fraction of it after running over two hours.


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