South Koreans cram for dream jobs at Samsung

Fri Nov 8, 2013 7:20am EST
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By Ju-min Park

BUSAN, South Korea (Reuters) - In a cram school in the South Korean port city of Busan, 70 college students packed into a classroom, chanting "We can do it!" as they studied for an exam they hope will guarantee them a job for life with Samsung Group.

The promise of Samsung, whose sprawling business empire spans consumer electronics to ships, offers not only a good salary and benefits but also holds the key to a good marriage in this Asian country where Confucian traditions run deep.

The twice-a-year recruitment rounds by the "chaebol", conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai, have spawned a cottage industry worth millions of dollars as young Koreans do what they have done from the age of 5 - cram to get ahead.

"I came here at 10 this morning and will be preparing for the interview until 8 p.m.," said 25-year-old Shin Seong-hwan, whose father is a Samsung employee near Busan.

Shin has already passed the company's aptitude test and now faces grueling interviews that end late in November.

In its current recruitment round, Samsung will hire 5,500 young people from more than 100,000 applicants, adding to the pressure cooker environment.

"Jobs at conglomerates can save face for you and your parents," said Hur Jai-joon, a senior researcher at the Korea Labor Institute, a government-funded research body.

It is an impossible dream for most to achieve as the top 30 conglomerates employ just 6.8 percent of the total workforce, the Federation of Korean Industries says.   Continued...

College students attend a class at a private cram school in Busan, about 420 km (261 miles) southeast of Seoul October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji