All the way from South Korea

Expat zone

All the way from South Korea

With its pleasant weather and booming IT industry, Bengaluru has welcomed many expatriates with open arms. Joomin Lee also moved to the City with wife Boo Kyoung Yun and son Namgu Lee because of the many business opportunities available here. The family hails from Seoul, South Korea and Joomin is the director and CEO of Funizen Solutions Pvt Ltd.

Joomin moved to India from South Korea in 2004, and was in Chennai before he moved to Bengaluru with his family. He has been here for so long that he is fondly known as a ‘Kordian’ back home. “The culture of both countries is entirely different. South Korea is a very homogenous country. What applies at one place applies everywhere.

There, when we bring someone into our lives, we try to establish a proper connection with them, considering different factors like the state they come from and the university they have studied in. Once he or she is given a position in our lives, it stays,” says Joomin. He feels that it is not correct to ask about such connections in India. “But the culture is very different here since things are very diverse.”

He has learnt a lot about the nature of people here. “In India, people don’t say no to anything. And also when someone says that something will be done in ‘five minutes’, it often doesn’t happen.” But he appreciates his stay in Bengaluru.

Joomin says that he didn’t have prior knowledge about the country before moving here. “There was a point in my life, when I had to decide about moving to Vancouver or India. I realised that though Vancouver was a calm place to stay in, there was not much I could do there. On the other hand, India can be chaotic but there’s a lot one can do here.”

 He has worked in the gaming industry earlier and says that it wasn’t big in India since “everyone here is busy studying”. “I like challenges and knew that this would be a new experience. Thus, I took it up,” he says.

Having come to Chennai first, Joomin says that a “particular standard was set”. “In Chennai, there is a large Korean community. The community includes factory workers too. But here, the community isn’t that big and consists of people from the R&D. They don’t necessarily get along with everyone. They often don’t understand my nature of work too,” he says with a smile.

His wife, Boo Kyoung, adds that life here is different from that of Chennai, “the people in the Korean group would ask me to stay within the group”. “But here it’s very different, since there are so many people from different nations.”

“There are people from across the globe here and this has its own effect,” says Joomin. He says that in India, the gaming industry hasn’t come up because of the prejudice that “gaming is like gambling”. “The gaming industry has a lot of job opportunities but here, even if one has a high profile animation degree, the job opportunities are still less.” Joomin’s earlier jobs also involved promoting games from South Korea for the Indian sub-continent.

He has travelled across Asia, Europe and the United States and has created an excellent network with first generation Korean and Chinese game developers and publishers that still influence his style of working. ­“The work culture isn’t very different here. Everyone is very liberal and casual, just like any gaming company in China or Korea.”

What does Joomin miss from back home? “I miss the food. We consume fewer vegetables and are avid meat-lovers. We have more of beef and pork. From the time we came to India, I have had too much of chicken,” he laughs.

Joomin and Boo Kyoung say that the people here are very kind and helpful. “There are lots of foreigners here and they are used to having outsiders around them,” says Joomin, to which Boo Kyoung adds, “It’s easy to settle down here. People are more accepting.” In South Korea, the

festivals and events are meant for everyone. “We all enjoy them together. But in India, everyone has their own festival. Different religions have different special days here,” says Boo Kyoung. “In the beginning, we couldn’t understand how there were so many days for ‘New Years’. Everything is different here,” says Joomin. Talking about their son Namgu Lee, Joomin says that he is ‘made in India’. Ask him what he likes about the country and he quickly says that he loves his school. “I have friends from all across the world — from French to Koreans to Indians,” he sums up.

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