Originally from Atlanta, GA, I came to Korea in the spring of 2009. I had just graduated from university and a friend who had spent a few years teaching in Korea told me I should give it a try. I came as a teacher and ended up loving the country. To me, Korea feels more laid back than where I’m from.
The real appeal is the sense of newness and discovery. No matter how long I’m here, I always get to discover something new. The biggest challenge for anyone moving to Korea is the language. Getting over the embarrassment of sounding like a child and having people laugh at your mistakes is the hardest part of learning a language, and it’s made me much more sympathetic to non-native speakers.
In an effort to move away from teaching into a more professional career, I started pursuing my master’s degree and expanded my skill set by taking on editing jobs. In 2013, I learned about Hansem from a former colleague from my first job in Korea. I worked for the company for several months as a freelancer while being trained by their foreign lead editor. I was surprised by how much the work culture differed from my expectations. I had heard many horror stories about the long working hours in Korea, so I was expecting to be a corporate slave. To my surprise, however, I have generally been able to do my work during business hours. Sure, there are busy seasons during new product releases when it’s necessary to put in some extra time, but the workload is very manageable the majority of the time.
I met my wife when I took a trip to Japan to see a concert. We dated by traveling back and forth between Korea and Japan, often multiple times a month, before eventually getting married. I parted ways with Hansem and moved to Japan to support my wife’s career, but I kept in touch and continued working for the company as a freelancer while enrolled in Japanese language school. After a few years, my wife and I decided that maybe it was time to move on from Japan. I discovered that one of Hansem’s native editors would be leaving and they were looking for a replacement. I reapplied for my old job and competed with the other candidates before being accepted back into the company.
When I first joined, I mostly edited user manuals. While I still do a fair amount of editing for a variety of documents, I mainly work with the marketing team now. My job is mainly to localize the client’s ideas and make sure they match the intended style, but for an English-speaking audience. One of the most difficult aspects of my job is reaching a compromise between Korean and English marketing styles. The Korean marketing style often seems overly emotional or bombastic to English-speaking audiences, so part of my job is bridging the gap and meeting client expectations, while also writing text that appeals to the target audience.
Hansem’s biggest competitive advantage is the people who work here. I’ve honestly been blown away by how amazing some of our writers are. People speak English so well that I barely have to speak Korean at the office at all. Some writers are particularly passionate about what they do, and I’ve enjoyed our exchanges greatly. We also have a team of people dedicated to carefully sourcing translators from around the world and ensuring that they maintain outstanding quality. I think this level of passion comes through in the quality of the work we do.
Of all the places I could have ended up, I’m glad that I found Hansem. I doubt there are many companies in Korea who are as open to working with an international staff as Hansem is. It’s given me the chance to work in a professional work environment not only with Koreans but also with people from the UK, New Zealand, China, Japan, France, and Vietnam. As for the future, I hope that our marketing department will continue to grow. The marketing department has been doing a great job across many projects, including various retail materials, multimedia files, localizing, and more. I want to do whatever I can to support my team’s efforts to take on the global market. My personal hobby is audio engineering and making music. I hope to use these skills to expand the scope of my involvement in our marketing activities.