Here is a little interview of Jong Gun Lee. He is Korean and he works in Paris at France Telecom R&D, Orange Labs.
What career path guided you to Paris ?
I studied my PhD at UPMC (Paris 6) where my PhD advisor proposed me an
opportunity to study in France while I was a master student at KAIST,
Korea. Basically the overall conditions (e.g., reasonably short
duration of PhD study, full funded scholarship, and no mandatory
course work) were fine and I decided to move here at June 2007.
What is your level of French and do you work in french ?
Unfortunately, the level of my French is still very poor. I have tried
several times to learn French but it was very hard for me to manage
both of conducting my research and leaning French. My career path is a
little bit different from other typical students who may learn French
and then apply to universities or other schools.
As you may know, because you also work on computer area, many people in
engineering areas are familiar with English, so that I have not had many
problems while using English in France. Additionally my advisor mentioned that
learning French is not obligate. Anyway after reading some books on basic
French grammar and living here for four years, I could sometimes
follow-up the context of dialogues when French people talk. Now I work
at France Telecom R&D, Orange Labs and the researchers with whom I
work can speak English well. However, definitely, I always feel the
needs of learning French to make better relationship with others.
What major differences do you see between France and Korea ?
I believe that the main difference is caused by two cultures each of
which is quite different from the other. Also I think that different
background of two nations make some differences. We can find some (or
many perhaps) unique properties in a country which were not found in
another country. For instance, in France, when one exits a door, s/he
holds the door until another comes. But I cannot find such behavior in
Korea. I thought over this issue, not much seriously but for a while,
and my personal hypothesis is that a building in France used to have
a big and heavy (front) door, so that it is natural for French people
to hold a door for the next person not to hurt. However, a door in
Korea is much lighter than on e in France and this difference may lead
that a French guy feels uncomfortable when s/he visits to Korea.
What do you like / dislike in France ?
It may be the issue of two sides of a coin, front and back. If I
should choose one example, I would like to talk about the attitude of
slowness. The slowness could bring perfectness and completeness but it
could make a person lazy. We also have a similar example, the attitude
of fastness, which may allow both of speedy response and faulty result
at the same time. I want to introduce a Korean known phrase, which
well describes this situation, “il jang in dan” which means that
everything has one side of goodness and another side of badness.
Thanks to Jong Gun for this insight !