Now you can Shazam your beer

This was originally published on Tech in Asia on Nov. 12, 2015. So many beers, so little time. With so many options between the hoppy, the fruity, the wheats, the stouts, the ales, the seasonal pumpkin brews – and boy, can those go either way – and splices you’ve never dreamed of, your next mystery bottle could either be sinfully good or horribly awry. Don’t you wish someone had told you before you opened it? It’s about time there’s an app for that. Letsee Beer, created by Korean startup Letsee for iOS and Android, uses your smartphone camera to scan…

The digital nomad: lonely, white, male

This was originally published on Tech in Asia on Sept. 3, 2015. Jon Yongfook, a British-Singaporean software engineer, had enough of his day-to-day routine and decided he was done being the cog in a corporate wheel. “I didn’t want to keep building stuff for other people. I wanted to build stuff for myself. And all I was doing was just waking up in my ridiculously expensive apartment, making breakfast, going to Starbucks, going home, making dinner, and going to bed. And I was just thinking, why? Why would I stay here?” he tells Seoul-based journalist Do You-jin, in her upcoming documentary…

Can Korea compete in crowdfunding?

This was originally published in The Korea Herald on Aug. 11, 2015. Korea’s start-up community breathed a collective sigh of relief last month when the government approved the long-awaited crowdfunding act, two years after it was first proposed in June 2013. Aimed at opening funding channels for start-ups, the Financial Investment Services and Capital Markets Act paves the way for equity-based crowdfunding ― a type of fund-raising method that lets individuals invest up to 2 million won ($1,700) in a single start-up, and 5 million won collectively over the year, through an online brokerage site. With the implementation of equity-based crowdfunding,…

Labor laws hurt start-ups

Foreigner quotas, visa rules provoke firms to seek loopholes Published  June 4, 2015, in The Korea Herald Listen to the related radio interview on TBS eFM here This is the third article in a series on foreigners working in Korea’s technology start-up ecosystem. Sang Youn-joo and Stephanie McDonald contributed to this report. ― Ed.   Etienne Maurin hadn’t finished graduate school when Kim Min-kee sought to found a start-up with him. A whiz at programming languages like Ruby, the master’s student from France was the most trustworthy partner to help Kim develop My Memoirs, a story-sharing platform inspired by his time working…

Foreign start-ups edge in on Korean tech turf

Korea opens up to foreign services, workplace diversity Published May 22, 2015, in The Korea Herald This is the second article in a series on foreigners working in Korea’s technology start-up ecosystem. ― Ed. Tech industry pundits in Korea used to joke that this is where overseas companies would come to die. In a country once dominated by local titans like Nate and Cyworld, foreign rivals like Yahoo and Myspace struggled to connect with local Web users and eventually backed out. But the situation has flipped in the past three to five years, they say, as social media and content…

Diversity missing in Korea’s creative economy drive

Global mindsets needed for shift to software, experts say This is the first article in a series on foreigners working in Korea’s technology start-up ecosystem. — Ed. Published May 8, 2015, in The Korea Herald   With the world’s best broadband networks, global technology giants, game-crazy smartphone users and a hefty 4 trillion won ($3.7 billion) government budget to foster the local start-up ecosystem, Korea is building itself up to be the next major Asian tech hub. But on the ground level, financial, legal, language and cultural roadblocks in Korea are still pushing many foreign tech entrepreneurs to favor Singapore or Hong Kong, industry…

World Cup: Honors even

Published June 18, 2014, on The Korea Herald CUIABA, Brazil ― South Korea’s meticulous World Cup preparations paid off enough to stop its losing streak, as the Taeguk Warriors reached a 1-1 draw with Russia on Tuesday in the final opening group match in Brazil. Korean forward Lee Keun-ho scored the opening goal in the 68th minute, followed by a dramatic equalizer by Russia’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov just six minutes later. Lee Keun-ho celebrates after scoring South Korea’s first goal of the World Cup against Russia in Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba, Brazil, Wednesday. (Yonhap) The draw stopped Korea’s painful pre-World Cup…

English teacher training program faces resistance

Teaching English in English program faces criticism for low participation, murky evaluations Published May 9, 2013, on The Korea Herald   This is the second in a follow-up series to one which was published in the Expat Living section on March 6 and 13 and covered the ongoing native English teacher phaseouts in certain regions. This three-part series further assesses the native English teacher program as well as the Teaching English in English initiative for Korean teachers of English in primary and secondary public schools. ― Ed.   One trainer likened it to boot camp. Arduous 9-to-5 classes with only…

Native English teacher head count continues decline

As regional programs continue phaseouts, competence of Korean teachers called into question Published May 2, 2013, on The Korea Herald This is the first in a three-part follow-up series to one which was published in the Expat Living section on March 6 and 13 and covered the ongoing native English teacher phaseouts in certain regions nationwide. This series further assesses the native English teacher program as well as the Teaching English in English initiative for Korean teachers of English in primary and secondary public schools. Intern reporters Choi In-jeong, Lee Sang-ju and Suh Hye-rim contributed to this series. ― Ed.…

Is Korea’s EFL education failing?

Published March 2013 in Groove Korea   Kelly Choi is an 11-year-old entering fourth grade in Seoul’s Gangnam district. She spends some 10 hours studying in seven English classes every week — more than three-fourths the class time of all her other subjects combined, not counting homework. Statistically, Kelly (her English name) is behind her classmates. She began studying English in first grade, but half her Gangnam peers started before kindergarten. And when they get to middle and high school, they will spend more than 15,000 hours studying the language. “I want her to go to university in the U.S.,”…