Contributed by Jason Kwok (Class of 2023)
Enjoying a fruitful vacation with friends has always been a luxury for typical Hong Kong students. With the help of the CUHK Business School, GBS Batch 16 was given the valuable opportunity to explore the vibrant city of Seoul in deep. Not only have we broadened our horizons, but we have also developed invaluable friendships and created fond memories through the trip.
The companies that we visited have one common ambition—to improve humanity by technology. Our journey kick-started with a business lecture at Yonsei University, one of Korea’s most prestigious institution. We discussed the various elements which drove the massive IT development in Korea. Surprisingly, besides technological and economic factors such as extensive internet coverage, a strong semiconductor industry, and adequate government subsidy, cultural factors such as the ‘Bali Bali’ (hurry hurry) spirit also played an indispensable role in Korea’s economic boom.
After gaining an understanding of the business environment in Korea, we visited two iconic Korean technology companies, Samsung and SK Telecom. It was surprising to see how these technology giants envisioned two entirely different worlds. Samsung focuses on using its cutting-edge technology to guide humans through a journey of self-discovery, while SK Telecom wishes its broad network of high-speed internet can achieve seemingly impossible tasks, such as constructing an underwater utopia. The insightful tours given by these companies sparked a lot of meaningful discussions regarding cooperate social responsibility between our cohort and the speakers.
My personal favourite was our visit to the Seoul Upcycling Plaza, the world's largest cultural complex dedicated to upcycling. Our cohort first learnt the distinction between upcycling and recycling. Unlike recycling, upcycling does not produce waste products or pollution in the process of waste conversion. Instead, upcycling utilises the unprocessed form of waste and turns it into work of arts. With this concept in mind, Seoul Upcycling Plaza invited world-renowned artists to its headquarters and, centralised the production and the retail of these artworks. Our cohort was especially inspired when the CEO told us that he was planning to advocate the culture of upcycling to the world, with Korea, naturally, as his starting point. His words reminded us that businesses could have a greater purpose and make the world a better place.
Apart from company visits, our cohort also went to various tourist attractions such as Dongdaemun, Lotte Mart, and the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History. These self-planned journeys fostered the tight bonds between batchmates and I. We could not have asked for a better start for our 4-year journey ahead.