Tech in Korea
Information Technology is one of the backbone industries of the Republic of Korea. Benefitting from strong government support over the last two decades, the technology industry has grown to become a key growth engine for the economy and a key driver of Korea’s reputation on the global stage. Korea enjoys world class IT infrastructure, which has created a powerful culture of tech adoption among a wider swath of the populace than is visible in most countries. As a result, Korea enjoys world-leading standing in areas such as broadband penetration rates, mobile device ownership and usage, the sophistication of the country's tech user base, and early adoption of emerging tech trends.
While Korea has produced several hardware and technology companies with global brand recognition, the country has struggled to develop a broad and deep software culture of world-class proportions. Various things have held Korea back on the software front, including a mismatch between local IT regulatory frameworks and international standards, language barriers, and the pervasiveness/high market share of just a few technologies. There has always been a less than favorable tension between Korea's largest tech companies and the country's startup environment. Korea's big business groups are more likely to compete against startups and foreign players in the areas of technology development, commercialization, and talent acquisition than collaborate with them. This has shown few signs of changing to date.
Small is beautiful.
Despite the challenges, smaller, faster moving companies are making headway. Young people are more open to working for small tech companies than they have ever been. The move to mobile and how mobile platforms are seen as actually very relevant to people's lives has changed opinions about what makes a good place to work. Companies offering innovative business models or new platforms for progress are gaining attention in Korea as the best talent now seeks more than merely a stable, long-term place to work.
The future isn't what it used to be.
The rapid pace of change in the technological landscape, creating winners and losers, is now seen as demonstrating to young engineers that it is more difficult than ever to predict whether or not a workplace is going to be a lasting good place to work. This has opened up new opportunities for smaller, faster moving, and foreign hirers to attract excellent talent.
Government is affecting demand and supply.
Increased government support for startups and incubators as well as small tech company-friendly policies promoted at the highest levels of government are helping reshape the landscape. Increased government demand for cyber security experts, both offensive and defensive, to combat foreign and domestic cyber security threats is promoting development of a sector that has traditionally lagged in Korea. Academic institutions and private sector training companies have responded to adjust to the new demand by creating new education programs to raise the supply of skilled engineers in these areas.
Hiring Tech Talent in Korea
With its broad and deep involvement in the tech world, Korea has significant tech talent as well. As in many other places, however, the recent boom in mobile, gaming, and web applications and the accompanying boom in demand for developers in these areas has created some shortages of experienced high-quality engineering, design, and managerial talent in the hottest sectors. Companies wishing to hire the best tech talent in Korea should be prepared to offer a challenging work environment, competitive compensation, and opportunities for growth.