Day 8 Monday March 18

Daumkakao

This seemed to be a day where something was going to be positive for somebody.  Perhaps you were most impressed with Daumkakao’s approach to business or their focus on employee quality of life.  Or perhaps you had most been anticipating the tea ceremony at Ocillus.  Or perhaps you have waited for months to see the coastline of Jeju Island.  Or perhaps the massage has been on your to-do list forever as well.  Daumkakao was our final company visit, and the rest of the day exposed us to why Koreans love their Jeju Island.

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31 Responses to “Day 8 Monday March 18”

  1. Leili Says:

    I absolutely loved the tea ceremony. Raised by an Iranian mother, tea is a huge part of Persian culture, and a symbol of unity for families especially in the afternoon. I really enjoyed understanding its cultural implications for Koreans.

  2. Sneha Says:

    I was very impressed by Daumkakao’s location and the changes that they were bringing to the traditional way of doing business in Korea – a simple thing like calling your boss by his/her first name – that some parts of the world takes it for granted – has been a planned process to implement at this company.

  3. Chase Says:

    The Jeju tea ceremony was delightful. The methodical, orderly process was calming and shed light on Korean culture. I appreciated the way we served our neighbors the best tea first, before serving ourselves. I’ll try to bring this attitude home with me!

    Big thanks to Sol for translating for us all day!!

  4. Chandler Moody Says:

    I have never been a huge fan of tea, until this tea ceremony. In the past, I didn’t care for the taste. But, after this tea ceremony I realized that drinking tea is about much more than just how it tastes. It is an important cultural ritual, and I was thankful to have this experience at Osulloc.

  5. Nicholas Says:

    The team ceremony was a very interesting blend of traditional culture and modern innovation. I enjoyed learning about the different types of tea and the process involved in tasting green tea. The green tea ice cream was a great final touch!

  6. Jackie Margol Lewis Says:

    I loved learning about DaumKakao and how they are very focused on treating their employees well and giving them freedoms that are not often found in more traditional Korean organizations (like calling superiors by their first names). I also loved seeing how impressed Sol was with the company (and the tennis courts :)). The tea ceremony was a standout for me as well. I love the gracefulness and carefulness that comes with each step.

  7. Margaret Mauel Says:

    The tea ceremony was one of the coolest parts of the trip. The precision and ritual during the ceremony was so relaxing it was almost meditative. I also loved how the “better” cup of tea was served to your guest.

  8. Rachel Compton Says:

    While I am still hurting from my Korean massage, it was an experience I will never forget. Dressed in a one-size-fits-all set of light blue scrubs, we were shuffled into a large room full of at least two dozen beds. The language barrier prevented us from communicating with the staff so the masseuses simply started grabbing us by the arms and yanking us to our beds. While massages in the US are often relaxing and soothing, this was quite the opposite with ladies climbing on your back, stretching your legs in all different angles, and pounding on your feet, back and even head.

  9. Emma Blumstein Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Rachel — I will certainly never forget that massage experience…

    The tea ceremony at Ocillus was one of the highlights of my trip. I probably drink more tea than the average American, having at least one cup a day, and had the opportunity to experience Ceylon tea when in Sri Lanka this past summer. That being said, I never associated tea with Korean culture and was interested to hear about the relationship between Buddhism and the origins of Korean tea culture.

  10. Paula M Says:

    I liked hearing about all the work Daumkakao was doing. It was turning the IOT on its head. You could live a connected, personalized lifestyle at your fingertips from home appliances to shopping to interacting with friends. It was weird that we didn’t see many employees nor were allowed into the main building. Again — not sure strategically why the headquarters was on Jeju.

    The Tea Ceremony was fantastic, and oddly serene. I wanted to stay in there longer and enjoy the moment. As a tea drinker, I was inspired to pick out a tea set! I now know the proper way to serve tea to guests including matcha ice cream! 🙂

  11. Anna Edelman Says:

    I loved learning about Daumkakao and how they were making efforts to improve the work/life balance of their employees. In a society where many women leave their jobs due to lack of quality child-care, it was amazing to see child-care facilities on the company campus.

    The massage experience was by far the weirdest and most hilarious thing we did in Korea. Being in a room full of other women getting massages with Korean women walking on our backs while talking on their cell phones was something I will never forget…

  12. Laura Greissing Says:

    I had such a great time at the tea ceremony. I was amazing at how much care and precision goes into making and enjoying tea in korea. As American’s we do everything so quickly with little thought so it was great to slow down and enjoy every sip. The massage was a trip highlight for me. I think I am still recovering!

  13. Anika Urfi Says:

    Growing up, tea time was instilled as a daily tradition at my parents house. I had learned to appreciate many kinds of black tea and the various ways of preparing tea. I really enjoyed the Tea ceremony at Osulloc and learning about green tea. I thought the way the Koreans drink tea was particularly enjoyable due to the light but equally complex flavors and noted that the way they drink tea (process and brew) were harmonious with the importance they give to self care and health.

    I was probably most looking forward to the massage! The deep tissue worked wonders on my back!

  14. Cecile Cosby Says:

    I loved Jeju. This day had two of my favorite trip highlights – the tea ceremony and the massage. I really enjoyed learning how to properly serve tea. I am not sure that I will ever be able to replicate that but I can try! Also, the massage experience (which I will not relive here) was something that truly bonded the group of girls I was with.

  15. Amanda Wilson Says:

    Despite the rain, I really loved the hike on Jeju Island. Maybe it was the fact that we had spent so much time on a bus, but I was thrilled to be moving outside! It was especially interesting that the said “hike” was a nature walk along both the coast and driving streets, but I enjoyed it, nonetheless.

    The tea ceremony was also enlightening, and I truly enjoyed the matcha trio of ice cream, milk shake, and cake at the cafe! A+ day!

  16. Bryant Buraruk Says:

    The DaumKakao visit was the company visit I looked forward to the most during the South Korea trip. I wanted to learn more about the company that had so much cultural and technological influence in the country. I was a tad bummed that they couldn’t show us more. I still think the employees we saw were actors, and they are doing more behind the scenes!

    The tea ceremony was also a highlight of the day. I think traditions, like the tea ceremony, are really important to keeping a country’s culture relevant as time passes.

  17. Molly Pfister Says:

    Per our cultural visits, the tea ceremony was beautiful and I felt humbled to be there. It was an enlightening experience, flowing with cultural heritage and yummy treats. A number of us leaned into the Jeju tradition with a group Korean massage—roughly eight of us girls were given massages in the same room. Laid out like sardines, we received intense and backbreaking bodywork that left us filled with laughter, smiles, and a truly unforgettable experience.

  18. Grace Ferguson Says:

    The Daumkakao company visit further solidified to me the secrecy around business in South Korea. We never even entered the office space. But I enjoyed seeing a glimpse of business on the island and how it is a different feel than businesses in the other cities.

    Jeju Island was my favorite stop in South Korea. Our guide Jane was so informative and it was great to learn about the three things in abundance on Jeju, the women divers and her family as tangerine farmers. Hearing the folks tale about the grandma and grandpa and then seeing their stones in the water was so cool. The “hike” was slightly more treacherous than I anticipated with the rain and the slick stones but it was a great way to get out in nature and see the island.

  19. Jeffrey Ochfeld Says:

    Daumkakao’s visit portrayed some of the cultural difficulties of acclimating an organization to one that reflects Western values. It was interesting to hear our guide discuss the emphasis the company has put into calling employees, regardless of title, by their first name. This, in combination with other great perks such as day care and flexible hours, seems to go against the grain of most organizations in Korea. It will be interesting to witness how work norms evolve in Korea as their brands continue to grow on a global scale.

    The tea ceremony was a very fun cultural experience. The venue itself was quite beautiful and peaceful, and I enjoyed the tea demonstration (Bryant, thanks for that left cup). I also split the indulgent combo of ice cream, cake, and milkshake with a few peers which made the hike after that much more rewarding!

  20. Waldo Arreola Says:

    It was an interesting day for me as far as expectation management: the Daumkakao visit was underwhelming and the tea ceremony was pleasantly overwhelming; the former was a little too secretive and ended up being a low quality experience in my opinion, while the later exposed me to a new way of living in the present.
    The coastline experience was great because like a lot of large-scale natural formations, pictures can’t justify it and it’s best to experience it in person.

  21. Waldo Arreola Says:

    It was an interesting day for me as far as expectation management: the Daumkakao visit was underwhelming and the tea ceremony was pleasantly overwhelming; the former was a little too secretive and ended up being a low-quality experience in my opinion, while the later exposed me to a new way of living in the present.
    The coastline experience was great because like a lot of large-scale natural formations, pictures can’t justify it and it’s best to experience it in person.

  22. Blake Schwartz Says:

    The visit to Daumkakao shed light on the balance and intersection between country culture and business culture. Korean business typically has a very professional and hierarchical structure, much like the overall Korean culture. This is not in line with the norms at typical tech companies, which are often laid back and have very horizontal structures. It was interesting to hear how Daumkakao was attempting to address this difference and find a balance between both norms.

  23. Kat Robinson Says:

    I was expecting the Daumkakao visit to be a little more like Netmarble, given the adorable cartoon animals we saw in the lobby (Jae told me that Ryan is actually NOT a bear, but is a maneless lion, which has been blowing my mind ever since) – but it was verrry different. I was a little bummed out that it was SO secretive, almost to the detriment of learning much of anything about the company.

    But I mainly came here to talk about that massage. Words can’t express / you really had to be there (but I guess we all were. In the same room.) The most laughable thing about that amazing experience was that the women giving us massages kept taking phone calls through the duration of the 90 minutes. Emma claims that her masseuse was on the phone approx. 70% of the time while sitting on her back. What a memory!

  24. Ramon Cordova Says:

    This was one of the most fun and action-packed itineraries of the trip. The nature walk was a highlight for me. Having grown up playing soccer my whole life, yet having spent most of my twenties indoors in professional settings, I was in heaven being outside and wandering the beautiful rocky coastline on a misty Jeju afternoon. The rain somehow enhanced it for me and made it feel like I was really outside in nature. I even took a moment to clamber onto the rocky crags of the beach and have my picture taken to remember the wonderful feeling of being outside so close to the ocean and hiking the coastline.

    On the flipside, my Korean massage was surprisingly not that relaxing. Those elderly Korean women had some serious power in those tiny hands. To be totally fair, my back muscles are essentially one giant knot full of years of tension, so whenever they worked those knots they REALLY dug in and showed no mercy. However, I did feel nice and loose after that, so the experience was worth it. The funniest part to me was that Bryant and I were both in the same room undergoing the same experience, but we were both doing our best not to cry out in pain. Good times.

  25. Clare Lanaux Says:

    The tea ceremony was relaxing and I enjoyed the atmosphere — it felt as if we were surrounded by a jungle. The Jeju coastline was beautiful. But the standout had to be the massages we received at the spa. I have never had an experience like that and I will definitely remember being in a room with 10 other women being crawled on and bent in ways I didn’t think possible.

  26. M. Ku Says:

    I spent most of this day looking at the four walls of my hotel room (thank you, never-ending cold). The biggest surprise? The hotel had no honey! Not a single serving nor a jar. Just a small example of the mundane things that we take for granted yet can highlight some big cultural differences (it appears that most coffee shops offer simple syrup instead of honey for your tea).

  27. Jaey Li Says:

    I think I’m not the only one feeling underwhelmed by the Kakao visit. For such a big tech company touting its modern aspects, they provided neither an English guide (thanks Sol for translating the entire time!) or even an English video (not even in subtitles!) Big contrast with our visit at Netmarble but I guess it may be due to the difference in customer base of the two companies. Netmarble is quite international while Kakao is mostly catered towards domestic demographics, hence the lack of need for English content.

    The tea ceremony was the highlight today. Each country in east (and maybe southeast) Asia has its own way of preparing teas properly and Korea is no exception. I find it most interesting that they actually took steps make sure the tea is cool/warm enough to drink almost immediately. In my previous experience, Chinese tea are typically prepared with high temperature water and people are expected to wait for a bit before drinking so the tea flavors seeps through; Japanese cares about the different level of hotness of the water and developed their own system of bringing out the most flavors. But Korean tea ceremony focused a lot more on the immediate consumption, which I found very thoughtful.

  28. Garrett Arras Says:

    Ok, I keep thinking that the last visit was my favorite.. and then the next one reminds me just how incredible our trip to South Korea was and how much we were able to see during our time there! Daumkakao’s campus was amazingly picturesque, and it was very impressive to hear how supportive they are of their employees! Jeju island was very peaceful and I can’t wait to visit there again during the summer months. I am not typically a fan of tea, but I think the quality of the tea and tea ceremony changed that for me! I can’t forget to mention the delicious Green Tea ice cream and snacks that we had while waiting in the tea shop!

  29. jolene wang Says:

    I was a bit surprised by the Kakao visit. Being such a big technology company in Korea, they do not have a muti-language promotional video.
    The tea ceremony was a fun experience. However, being a Chinese and growing up in a family that loves tea culture, there were much more about tea that could be discussed. I did really appreciate realizing the difference between Korea and Chinese tea.

  30. Blair Madole Says:

    Hiking in the rain was surprisingly enjoyable! Seeing the coastline was unbelievable – The views were breathtaking! Plus the euphoria was palpable on the hike, whether because we were off the bus and full of endorphins or because we all felt a little nuts to be hiking while getting rained on, it was fabulous.

  31. Neomi S Says:

    Kakao had a really cool building and I loved the community garden patch idea! I thought it was a fairly humble HQ for a company of that magnitude. It seemed like they had a similar culture to Netmarble on paper but we saw way less employees. I will also never forget the sunshades on the desks – that made me giggle! Sol was a champ to translate for us in real-time! His immense contribution to the trip allowed S Korea to be incredibly rewarding and memorable.

    I am a tea junky so I loved the tea museum and ceremony! Bought a ton to try. Definitely a highlight. I will never forget how beautiful that room and ceremony was. What a stark contrast from our to-go coffee and tea culture in America and a reminder to slow down and appreciate the little things in life.

    I had been looking forward to the hike the entire trip, so I was happy to see that our group powered through the rain! I thought the jagged coastline and pebbly beaches were beautiful. Running into a woman diver at work was a highlight!

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