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Korea: Economic downturn and which companies have the best chances for survival.

While all of us hope the economic downturn is over soon, it seems that it’s a long term battle. Companies are cutting employees or decreasing their business scope. A netizen shares his experience of working at a Japanese company. Different business operation styles are introduced.

일본회사에서 근무하고 있습니다. 대기업에서 근무하다가  7년전 일본종합상사로 직장을 옮겼읍니다.이 회사는(회사명은 밝히지 않겠읍니다.) 기계관련 유통회사로 일본에서 도쿄,오사카 증시에 상장도 되어 있으며  수많은 우량기업들의 산업제품을 전세계적으로 판매하고 있는 글로벌기업 입니다. 요즈음 신문이나 뉴스를 보면은 불경기로 인해 기업의 실적감소와 유지를 위해 구조조정을 한다는 얘기가 심심찮게 흘러 나오는 것을 볼수 있읍니다. 저 또한 대기업 근무때 IMF를 껶었던 터라 현재 기업의 흘러가는 상황이 눈에 선하게 들어 옵니다. 그 때는 아침에 출근하면 누가 구조조정 대상이니,누가 회사를 그만두니, 누가 관계사 전출 발령이 났느니…. 일이 손에 잡히지 않아 담배만 물고서 한숨을 쉬었읍니다.

I work at a Japanese company. I used to work at a conglomerate and seven years ago, I moved to a Japanese company. It is a company distributing machines and took its stocks public in Tokyo and Osaka. That is, it is a global enterprise which sells products of top-ranking companies all over the world. I see through newspapers and TV news that due to the economic downturn many companies cut the number of employees due to their losses. I also went through the IMF when I worked at a big company, I can understand how companies deal with this problem at present. At that time, every day I went to a company, I heard who would be the victims of being fired, who would quit the company, and who would be transferred to another place… It was hard to concentrate on my job and I sighed every day.

오늘 이 글을 쓴 목적은 일본회사에 근무하면서 느낀 일본인의 신의에 대해 얘기하고자 합니다. 제가 7년전 이 회사에 입사시 적자가 누적되어 자본잠식이 된 상황하에서 일본으로 철수를 하느냐,마느냐 하는 딜레마에 빠져 있던 상황이었읍니다. 그래서 분위기도 상당히 침체되어 있었고, 기존 직원들은 월급이 인상된 적이 없이 마음은 콩밭에 간 상태에서 근무하고 있었읍니다.

The reason why I write today is I would like to talk about the faith I felt while I worked at a Japanese company. When I started working at this company seven years ago, the company had accumulated loss and therefore its capital was encroached. They were in the middle of a dilemma of whether they have to withdraw to Japan or not. Everyone were depressed and workers’ salaries were stuck.

처음에 입사하여 가장 힘든 점은 한국과 일본의 문화차이였읍니다. 가까운 나라이지만 문화차이는 엄청나서 서로가 이해하기 힘든 점이 너무나 많았읍니다. 그래서 일본 관련 서적도 보고 나름대로 공부를 하였지만 격차는 좁혀지지 않았읍니다. 그런 점으로 인해 회사를 그만 둘까 하는 생각도 많이 하였으며,주위에서 스카웃 제의도 오고 하였지만 지인의 소개로 입사하면서, 얼굴에 먹칠 하지 않겠다고 약속하였기에 끝장을 보자고 마음을 먹었읍니다.

The most difficult part when I worked at first was the cultural difference between Japan and Korea. Even though it is a geographically close country, cultural differences were huge and I couldn’t understand so many parts. So I started reading books related to Japan and studied, but the gap didn’t disappear. I was considering quitting the company, but I got a job through a person whom I knew. In order to keep the person’s face, I couldn’t quit casually and decided to work as long as possible.

7년이란 세월이 흐르면서 나름대로 스트레스를 받으며 열심히 노력하여 매년 흑자를 내었읍니다. 물론 같이 있는 직원들의 노고가 컸다고 생각하고 있읍니다. 그런데 한가지 놀란 점이 있다면 매년 흑자가 나도 이익금을 일본에 가져가지 않고 잉여금으로 적금을 들어서 보관하고 있다는 점입니다. 한국회사라면 경영주가  주주에게 배당를 한다던지 빚을 내어 공장을 짓던지,차를 큰차로 바꾼다던지………그렇게 이익잉여금을 남겨 둔 상황에서 현재의 위기를 껶다보니,일본본사에서는 걱정하지 말고 경제위기가 풀릴 때 까지 벌어둔 돈으로 생활하라고 합니다.

While I worked at this place for seven years, I was stressed out sometimes, but worked hard. Therefore, every year the company produced profits. Of course co-workers worked really hard. But one thing I was surprised is that the company didn’t bring revenue back to Japan and saved it as surplus. If it is a Korean company, the manager would distribute the profit to shareholders, make another factory or switch to a bigger car… With the accumulated profit, we face the current crisis. Therefore, the head office ordered us to use the accumulated profit for our living until the economic downturn finishes.

최근 환율상승으로 인해 수입업체는 전부 개점휴업 상태라고 알고 있읍니다. 다행히 저는 타업체에 비해서는 편안한 마음으로 지내고 있읍니다. 주위에 한참 잘 나갈때 벌어둔 돈을 물 쓰듯 펑펑 쓰며,은행 빚을 내며, 큰 소리 치면서 자신있다고 하시던 대한민국 사장님들 . 한번 본 받아야 될 점이 아닐까요.
 
참고로 저는 일본을 좋아하는 사람은 아닙니다.[…]단지, 한 가지 명확한 점은 일본인은 기본에 충실하다는 점 입니다.

I know that most importing companies due to increase in exchange rates are currently stopping operations. Fortunately, compared to other companies I work more comfortably. Korean companies that spent money a lot when the companies produced profits, which produced bank debts, and were so confident of their businesses! I think that it is what we should learn.

For reference, I am not a person who likes Japan.[…] One clear thing is that Japanese are faithful to the basics.

Regarding this post, many netizens commented.

일본 교토식 기업운영…오늘 비즈니스 위크인가에서 읽었던 내용, 그대로이네요. 교토기업정서가 늘, 잘 나갈때,,늘 위기를 대비하여,,교토에는 오늘도 역사상 최대로 어려운 일본기업들이건만 , 교토시에는 구조조정이란 게 없답니다. 그간 벌어놓은 걸로만 직원들 월급줘도 2년은 거뜬히- 2년간 매출이 제로 라도-버틸수 있다..는 내용이었습니다. 회이팅입니다. 지금은 국경없는 다국적기업. 내가 일하는 곳이 바로 내가 애국(지구의 어느나라이건간에) 하는 장소죠.

Business operation, Kyoto style… Actually it is similar with the article I read in Business Week today. Kyoto Business style… When they’re making profits, they always prepare for crisis. There are companies that face economic crisis in Kyoto, but what I heard is that they don’t have reconstruction of their organizations. What they saved can be used for workers’ salaries for two years (even though sale is zero). Now companies are all multi-national enterprises beyond borders. Where you work is a place where you are loyal.

지적한 대로 그들은 진정 기본에 충실합니다. 우리는 컴퓨터를 도입하면서 주산을 없애버린 것을 기억할 것입니다. 공업분야든 농업분야, 상업분야의 학교들 모두가 기초교육에 충실하다는 것을 우린 본받아야 합니다.

That’s true that they take care of the basics. When we first got computers at school, we remember that we got rid of abacus calculation. We should learn that all kinds of schools in manufacturing, agricultural, and business fields pay attention to fundamental education.

Due to historical background, some of them more sensitively respond.

난 친일파 척결에는 찬성하지만…일본인들의 기업가 정신…사무라이 정신은 반드시 본받아야 한다고 믿는 사람이다…

I agree with punishing Koreans who worked for Japan during the Japanese colonization period. But I also think that we should learn Japanese business styles and samurai spirit.

솔직히 일본이 싫지만 인정할껀 인정해야지..기본에 충실한건 맞다..본받을꺼도 있구..

Honestly speaking, I hate Japan, but I think that we should acknowledge things that we should. It is true that they take care of the basics well. There are things that we should learn.

그 회사는 괜찮네요… 그렇지만 일본회사라 해서 다 그런건 아니죠[…]

That company sounds fine. But it doesn’t mean that all Japanese companies are like that.[…]

And another country:

정확하십니다. “기본에 충실하다.” 맞습니다. 이게 일본이죠. 근데 일본인들보다 더 무서운 나라가 있습니다. 바로 미국인들입니다. 이들은 기본에 충실하기 이전에 “본질에 충실하다.” 로 표현하고 싶습니다. 반면 한국은 빠른 성장을 해야했던 이유로 응용은 잘합니다. 지금처럼 모두가 힘들때야말로 경쟁적 성장의 화두는 잠시 접고, 멀리 내다보면서 우리도 기본과 본질에 충실해야할 좋은 기회인 것 같습니다.

It is exactly right, “They’re faithful to the basics.” That’s Japan. However, there is another country that is scarier than Japan. It is the US. I would like to say that the US is “faithful to substance” before they’re faithful to the basics. On the other hand, Korea is good at application and that is one of the reasons how Korea could grow up fast. In the moment when everyone has a hard time, we should disregard competitive growth and it is a good chance for us to think about the basics and substance.

3 comments

  • elaine

    why should tax payers money be used to prop up failing busness they should not spend our money proping up failing business. let them go into liquidation or bankrupt, we will get better buness out of it. the ones that are failing are the ones paying big lots of money to ceo’s who is worthy $13,000.000 a year then after a couple they leave and get lots of money even if the company is failing. It is wrong, let the companies go broke then we will have better one’s. Who agrees with me?

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