Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fake Angry Birds Theme Park in China


An unlicensed Angry Birds theme park has just launched in Changsha, Hunan province in China. This theme park is built in a real and very huge size of authentic-looking Angry Birds game. Players use a gigantic slingshot which is loaded with plush Angry Birds in order to knock down the pigs which are sitting on a castle.

The theme park is currently facing all sorts of legal issues from the Finland-based company, Rovio for violating several issues of trademarks and copyrights. According to another source from Stomp Singapore, Rovio plans to open a big-budget theme park but has not finalized yet.

"This (Angry Birds park) serves as a method for people to purge themselves and to gain happiness," a park official told the Chinese site Gamersky.com.

According to CNNGO, The Angry Birds playground is located within the park’s American Zone, next to a scaled-down replica of Mount Rushmore. Entry fee for Window of the World is RMB 90 (US$14). No additional fee is required to use the Angry Birds theme park.


(Source: International Business Times dated 18th September 2011)




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Monday, September 19, 2011

Young Malaysians fighting for a change


Racism occurs around the world, no matter you live in Asia, Europe or even in the United States. Racism involves the belief of racial differences, act of discrimination and non-equal treatment towards the minority groups. In Malaysia, the racism and political issues exist for generations but it is getting a lot of attention from worldwide media for the past five years when the Malaysian government constantly creates tension stir of racist issues between Bumiputera and the minorities race of Chinese, Indian and others.

Malaysia is a a multi-ethnic country which comprises Malays, making up the majority to 60% of the population and declared themselves as Bumiputera while the remaining of 40% of the population are Chinese Malaysians (Malaysians of Chinese descent), Indian Malaysians (Malaysians of Indian descent) and others. The biggest problem of racial discrimination in Malaysia is the special policy applied for the Bumiputeras. Since after the incident of inter-ethnic race riots between the Malays and Chinese occurred on May 13, 1969, the Malays (or better known as Bumiputera) enjoys a lot of preferential treatments such as buying new houses with 7% discounts, enjoy lower interest rates, easier access to higher education in local universities, special Malay reserve land in most housing settlements, burial plots in most urban areas for the deceased Bumiputeras while the minorities have to be cremated at similar locations or pay premium prices, all the key positions in government offices to be held by Bumiputeras, a minimum of 30% Malay Bumiputera equity to be held in Listed Companies, full funding for mosques and Islamic places of worship, special high earning interest trust funds for Bumiputeras, special share allocation for new share applications for Bumiputeras, making the Malay language paper as the compulsory examination paper to pass with such high emphasis given to it and so on. On top of that, dealing with the Malaysian government for tender contracts or big projects isn't easy without the involvement of Bumiputeras as part of the top management of the companies. All the contracts and projects are offered based on how close relationship you have with the government and types of corruption to make them satisfied. Up until now, Bumiputeras enjoy these privileges (as mentioned above) for over 40 years. 

When many Malaysians can't deal with the racism and political issues in Malaysia, they decide to migrate to overseas countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Europe countries. Last year, I attended a dinner organized by Malaysian Government in San Francisco bay area. According to the government officer, about 100,000 Malaysians have left and worked in overseas countries. Majority of them, about 60%, are currently working in Singapore. Most of the Malaysians choose not to return home because of the sensitive issues even after the government offers attractive packages. However, there are other young generations in Malaysia such as Namewee and EVYbody, who dare to stand up and speak out their dissatisfaction and viewpoints from their music videos.

Namewee gained popularity after releasing his controversial song which is mixed with the national anthem of Malaysia, Negaraku which describes the problem of the government and corruption in 2007. Since then, he began to express his frustration and condemn the Electrical utility company which is owned mainly by the government, TNB Malaysia, about frequent power failure (black out) in his town several times in his music video. He also criticizes a school principal for his racist remarks during the school assembly in his another music video. However, he recently launches his latest movie, Nasi Lemak 2.0 to remind Malaysians about the unity, respect and appreciate other races in food and culture as 1Malaysia.


In this video, the background music and choreographer are originated from Hindi movie (Bollywood) but the lyrics is in Mandarin. It is to demonstrate that Malaysians live in harmony and our food is combined with different spices from Malays, Chinese and Indians which makes our Malaysian food more unique and rich of flavors.




"Rasa Sayang" is a popular Malay folk song which is sang by multiracial of all age groups in Malaysia. It's also a representative of different races and culture in Malaysia. The lyrics of Rasa Sayang has been modified including the music in order to suit  for the movie, Nasi Lemak 2.0




EVYbody is not a musician band but it's a group of young generations in Malaysian who express their viewpoints and frustration in rapping music videos in Cantonese. In the latest video, a participation of 50 volunteers (the generation of 709) to express their opinions and remind Malaysians to practise their rights and vote wisely for a change in government's system and policy for the sake of their next generation.

What is 709? On 9th July 2011, there was a peaceful protest demonstration which took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and 33 cities outside Malaysia. This is the 2nd rally (which is known as Bersih 2.0 or the Walk for Democracy). Hence, this 2nd rally is also recognized as 709 as to remember the event and heroes who fight for justice and democracy. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) was pushing for a free and fair elections in Malaysia.








Since after the political tsunami in 2008, (where the government topples and loses a lot of parliament seats and five out of 13 states to oppositions) Malaysians become more openly to speak out and participate peaceful demonstrations in order to fight for a change and demand for equal rights in the system as a unity.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Top 50 most expensive cities in 2011

Mercer is a global leader in human resource consulting, outsourcing and investment services which provides market data on international and expatriate compensation management to their clients in multinational companies and governments worldwide. The current survey of the worldwide cost of living 2011, covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. 

New York is used as Mercer's base city and all cities are compared against New York. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing is often the biggest expenses for expatriates – plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked. Apart from comparing on the cost of housing, other major factors need to be analyzed such as the currency fluctuation, the impact on inflation on goods and services including petrol (gas), political instability and natural disasters which will influence the cost of living for expatriates and affect on the ranking of a country. 









Top 50 city ranking based on the cost of livings 2011

Mercer international basket including rental accommodation costs

Base City: New York, USA



Rankings
March 2011
March 2010
City
Country
11LUANDAANGOLA
22TOKYOJAPAN
33N'DJAMENACHAD
44MOSCOWRUSSIA
55GENEVASWITZERLAND
66OSAKAJAPAN
78ZURICHSWITZERLAND
811SINGAPORESINGAPORE
98HONG KONGHONG KONG
1021SÂO PAULOBRAZIL
1119NAGOYAJAPAN
127LIBREVILLEGABON
1229RIO DE JANEIROBRAZIL
1424SYDNEYAUSTRALIA
1511OSLONORWAY
1622BERNSWITZERLAND
1710COPENHAGENDENMARK
1817LONDONUNITED KINGDOM
1914SEOULSOUTH KOREA
2016BEIJINGCHINA
2125SHANGHAICHINA
2133MELBOURNEAUSTRALIA
2323NIAMEYNIGER
2419TEL AVIVISRAEL
2513VICTORIASEYCHELLES
2515MILANITALY
2717PARISFRANCE
2867OUAGADOUGOUBURKINA FASO
2930ST. PETERSBURGRUSSIA
3060PERTHAUSTRALIA
3155BRISBANEAUSTRALIA
3227NEW YORK CITY, NYUNITED STATES
3370BRASILIABRAZIL
34
26
ROMEITALY
34
74
CANBERRAAUSTRALIA
36
28
VIENNAAUSTRIA
37
38
NOUMÉANEW CALEDONIA
38
38
GUANGZHOUCHINA
39
62
DJIBOUTIDJIBOUTI
39
76
STOCKHOLMSWEDEN
41
62
LAGOSNIGERIA
42
31
HELSINKIFINLAND
43
42
SHENZHENCHINA
44
32
DAKARSENEGAL
44
141
KHARTOUMSUDAN
46
90
ADELAIDEAUSTRALIA
47
47
PRAGUECZECH REPUBLIC
48
36
BAKUAZERBAIJAN
49
33
BANGUICENTRAL AFRICAN REP.
50
35
AMSTERDAMNETHERLANDS
Research by Mercer Consulting.



Europe

Three European cities which still remain in the top 10 list of the most expensive cities in the world are Moscow (4) followed by Geneva (5) and Zurich (7). According to Mercer, the cost of living for expatriates in the most of Western European cities have been remained relatively stable over the last 12 months. During the past 1 year period, the Euro has weakened against the US dollar therefore, cities like Paris, Milan, Frankfurt and Amsterdam have become less expensive for anyone to travel to Europe from the United States. None of the German cities listed into the top 50 of most expensive cities in 2011. Besides that, some cities experience some decline in rankings when there is a sign of reduction costs of accommodation due to economic downturn especially for Athens and Barcelona. On the other hand, Stockholm was ranked at 76 in 2010 but has jumped to 39 in 2011 due to a considerable strengthening of the local currency against the US dollar. 


Middle East

Tel Aviv ranks at 24 after down by 5 places from 2010 but it continues to be the most expensive city in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi (67), Dubai (81) and Amman (103) follow having dropped 17, 26 and 20 places in the ranking respectively. Based on Mercer's survey, the trend of declining in the accommodation costs continues across the Middle East region (including Dubai), driving the cities down in the ranking along with the cost of living for expats when there is a sudden of over supply of properties in the Middle East region.


Africa

Luanda (1) remains the most expensive city for expatriates across Africa and globally, while N'Djamena follows in third place. Libreville (12) has slipped by 5 places since last year. Niamey remains at 23 whereas Victoria (25) in the Seychelles dropped by 12 places as the Seychelles rupee has weakened against the US dollar. In South Africa, Johannesburg (131) and Cape Town (158) have leaped by 20 and 13 places in the ranking respectively, reflecting the strengthening of the South African rand. The least expensive cities in the region are Tunis (207) and Addis Ababa (211). According to Mercer, it's difficult to find good and secure accommodation for expatriates in most of the African cities as they become more expensive compared to other regions. The house rental in Luanda has increased to US$20,000 per month as mentioned in the video.


The Americas

High inflation on goods and services is the main factor to the rising costs of living in the Southern America. São Paolo (10) and Rio de Janeiro (12), have jumped from the positions 11 and 17 in the ranking respectively. They are now considered as the most expensive locations for expatriates within America region. According to Mercer, higher inflation continues to be the main impact on the cost of goods and services in Argentina and Venezuela, causing their cities to jump up in the ranking. On top of that, the exchange rates of local currencies in Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica are getting stronger against the US dollar, causing the region's cities to rise in the ranking too.

New York ranks at 32, is the most expensive city in the United States. Los Angeles (77) and Chicago (108) have dropped significantly in the rankings as the pricing of goods and services have been moderate compared to New York. Washington, at ranking 108, has climbed three places from last year's ranking, as the accommodation costs have increased significantly.

Portland (186) and Winston-Salem (197) are the least expensive cities in the United States. Toronto (59), up by 17 places since last year's ranking, has overtaken Vancouver (65) to become the most expensive Canadian city in the ranking, followed by Montreal (79) and Calgary (96). Ranking 114, Ottawa is the least expensive city in Canada.


Asia Pacific

Australian cities have seen as the most dramatic jumps in the ranking since last year as the local currency has gained almost 14% against the US dollar. Sydney (14) is up by 10 places from last year's ranking, Melbourne has moved up from rank 33 to 21 and Perth has jumped by 30 places to reach rank 30. Adelaide (46) is the country’s highest riser, up by 44 places since last year's ranking.

The most expensive city in Asia is Tokyo (2), followed by Osaka (6). Singapore (8) has joined the list of the world’s top 10 most expensive cities in 2011 and is followed by Hong Kong (9). Nagoya (11) in Japan is up by 8 places whereas Seoul (19) drops by 5 places from last year's ranking. Other highly ranked Asian cities are Beijing (20), Shanghai (21), Guangzhou (38), Shenzhen (43) and Taipei (52).

New Delhi (85) is India’s most expensive city followed by Mumbai (95) and Bangalore (180). Elsewhere in Asia, Jakarta ranks 69, Hanoi 136, Bangkok 88 and Kuala Lumpur 104. Karachi (214) is the region’s least expensive city.

(Source: Mercer's 2011 Cost of Living Survey) 

 

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Angry Birds Mid-Autumn Festival 2011


Mid-Autumn Festival or it's better known as the Moon Cake Festival (Zhongqiu Jie) is a very popular harvest festival which is celebrated by Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese since more than 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it's usually called as Lantern Festival or Moon cake Festival.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eight month in the Chinese calendar which is between September or early October in the Gregorian calendar. According to a folk tale story, the Chinese wanted to overthrow the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368) thus, Liu Bowen of Zhejiang Province, advisor to the Chinese rebel leader Zhu Yuanzhang, came up with a brilliant idea to communicate with the Chinese residents for a rebellion. During that time, group gatherings were banned hence, it was impossible for them to communicate and make plans for a rebellion. Liu Bowen sought permission to distribute thousands of moon cakes to the Chinese residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor. A piece of paper with the message: "Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month" was inserted in every moon cake before distributing to Chinese residents. On the night of the Moon Cake Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government.

 The Mid-Autumn Festival has become one of the most important holidays in Chinese calendars. It's also to commemorate the beginning of Fall (Autumn) season. Chinese people traditionally pray and burn incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e. Besides that, they also have a reunion dinner with family members and eat moon cakes together on the day of celebration. It's also an enjoying moment for children to decorate their home gardens with candles and lanterns as well as walking around the neighbourhood with families, friends and neighbours while carrying their favourite lanterns.

In the modern days of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration, the moon cake doesn't come in a flavour (lotus egg) but you can find variety of flavours to suit your taste. You can find moon cakes in chocolate, red beans, green tea, yam, pandan, durian, jelly fillings or ice cream fillings too. It's also the same for lanterns. There are many kinds of lanterns in cartoon characters such as mickey mouse, donald duck, hello kitty etc. in traditional candle-lit or battery operated.


mid-autumn-lanterns-INLINE-Main
Variety of lanterns in the market (Photo by CNNGO)
 
Since Angry Birds has become popular among the adults and the children, the manufacturers also take this opportunity to produce Angry Birds lanterns and moon cakes for this year's Mid-Autumn Festival 2011. For this year 2011, The Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Cake Festival) falls on September 12th, 2011 thus, I would like to wish everybody a Happy Moon cake Festival!!! :)




MooncakeFestival-MAIN angry bird (Medium)
Angry Birds and friends celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with lanterns and moon cake







Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival traditional angry bird lantern (Medium)
Malaysian produced Angry Bird lanterns sold out like hot cakes between RM15 (US$5) to RM21 (US$7) each.




Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Angry Bird traditional lantern (Medium)
Traditional candle-lit Angry Bird lanterns




Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Angry Bird Lantern operate in battery (Medium)
Modern Angry Bird lanterns operate with AA batteries and accompanied by music




Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Angry Bird mooncake (Medium)
Angry Bird Moon cake




Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Angry Bird mooncake in couple and unique packaging box (Medium)
Angry Bird couple moon cake which comes in a nice packaging box




Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival Angry Bird cold mooncake with a bag (Medium)
Angry Bird cold moon cake in chocolate and sweet mango and pomelo from Hong Kong

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wealthy Chinese's wish list to migrate

China began to open its door for World Trade Market (world's economy trading) in the late 1980s. It has been the world's fastest economy growing with consistent growth rate of 5%-15% over the past 30 years and becomes the 2nd largest world's economy after the United States.  

Since China begins its involvement and as the main role of influence for the largest exporter in the world economy trading, Chinese people become richer in a very short time. According to China's official statistics, the poverty rate fell from 53% in 1981 to 2.5% in 2005. However, in 2009, as many as 150 million Chinese were living under poverty level of less than $1.25 a day.

Many wealthy Chinese people are not willing to stay permanently in China. They immediately invest their money to purchase properties in overseas countries like, in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore etc. as long as they are able to find ways to apply for Permanent Resident visas in these countries for their children's future and education. This is also one of the reasons why the properties in these countries are getting more expensive. My close friend from New Zealand told me the rental properties there has increased a lot since the past few years. In California, in order to send the children to good schools such as in Cupertino, the rental for 2 bedroom apartment already costs US$2,800 per month which is similar to the rental cost in Auckland, New Zealand, except it's in the NZ currency note. 

Apart from that, many rich Chinese parents begin to send their children to overseas education at very young age, especially at the beginning of their preschools or primary schools (elementary schools). I witnessed a group of Chinese students at the age of 13 years old who enrolled for the summer camp holidays to California to check out for the colleges. They were 40 students who were accompanied by 3 Chinese teachers, flew from Beijing, China to California for 2 weeks summer camp here. At their age, they already had ipods, ipads, iphones and other kinds of gadgets for watching videos on their flights, which I really envied at them :)

Since after the Cultural Revolution during the era of Mao Zedong (1966-1976) which left a deep scar and negative impact to the people of China who suffered from a wide range of abuse including torture, rape, imprisonment, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. Many young wealthy Chinese try to apply for Permanent Resident visas in overseas countries for their assurance or alternative option to leave the country if there is a political unrest or suddenly change policy in China. Some other Chinese people apply the Permanent Resident visas in order to migrate for better family lifestyle and children's future.



Top of Chinese wealthy's wish list? To leave China

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese millionaire Su builds skyscrapers in Beijing and is one of the people powering China's economy on its path to becoming the world's biggest.

He sits at the top of a country — economy booming, influence spreading, military swelling — widely expected to dominate the 21st century.

Yet the property developer shares something surprising with many newly rich in China: he's looking forward to the day he can leave.

Su's reasons: He wants to protect his assets, he has to watch what he says in China and wants a second child, something against the law for many Chinese.

The millionaire spoke to The Associated Press on condition that only his surname was used because of fears of government reprisals that could damage his business.

China's richest are increasingly investing abroad to get a foreign passport, to make international business and travel easier but also to give them a way out of China.

The United States is the most popular destination for Chinese emigrants, with rich Chinese praising its education and healthcare systems. Last year, nearly 68,000 Chinese-born people became legal permanent residents of the U.S., seven percent of the total and second only to those born in Mexico. Canada and Australia are also popular.

It is a bothersome trend for China's communist leaders who've pinned the legitimacy of one-party rule on delivering rapid economic growth and a rising standard of living. They've succeeded in lifting tens of millions of ordinary Chinese out of poverty while also creating a new class of super rich. Yet affluence alone seems a poor bargain to those with the means to live elsewhere.

Despite more economic freedom, the communist government has kept its tight grip on many other aspects of daily life. China's leaders punish, sometimes harshly, public dissent and any perceived challenges to their power, and censor what can be read online and in print. Authoritarian rule, meanwhile, has proved ineffective in addressing long standing problems of pollution, contaminated food and a creaking health care system.

"In China, nothing belongs to you. Like buying a house. You buy it but it will belong to the country 70 years later," said Su, lamenting the government's land leasing system.

"But abroad, if you buy a house, it belongs to you forever," he said. "Both businessmen and government officials are like this. They worry about the security of their assets."

Leo Liu, marketing manager at Beijing emigration consultants Goldlink, said the company has noticed an increasing trend of rich Chinese wanting to emigrate, particularly to Canada, in the 15 years since it was founded.

The main reasons people want to move abroad, he said, are their children's education and for better healthcare. Some want to leave because they got their money illegally, such as corrupt government officials and businesspeople, while others are inspired by friends who have already emigrated to the U.S.

"They want to get a green card even though they may still do business here in China," Liu said. "They might have sent their wife and children abroad.

"And some of them just love life in a foreign country, the Western style," he said.

There is also a yawning gap between rich and poor in China, which feeds a resentment that makes some of the wealthy uncomfortable. The country's uneven jump to capitalism over the last three decades has created dozens of billionaires, but China barely ranks in the top 100 on a World Bank list of countries by income per person.

Getting a foreign passport is like "taking out an insurance policy," said Rupert Hoogewerf, who compiles the Hurun Rich List, China's version of the Forbes list.

"If there is political unrest or suddenly things change in China — because it's a big country, something could go wrong — they already have a passport to go overseas. It's an additional safety net."

Among the 20,000 Chinese with at least 100 million yuan ($15 million) in individual investment assets, 27 percent have already emigrated and 47 percent are considering it, according to a report by China Merchants Bank and U.S. consultants Bain & Co. published in April.

Nearly 60 percent of the people surveyed said worries over their children's education are a reason for wanting to leave.

A millionaire who works in the coal industry, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the main push behind his plans to emigrate is China's test-centric school system, often criticized for producing students who can pass exams but who lack skills for the world of work.

He will take his 7-year-old to the U.S. as soon as the child graduates from junior high at an international school in Beijing where pupils are instructed in English.

"The U.S. has a good educational system and excellent health care," said the 39-year-old, who has three homes in China and assets worth $5 million. "That's why we look forward to going there."

Other top motivations cited in the Merchants Bank study are to protect assets and to prepare for retirement. Also cited as reasons for leaving: having more children and making it easier to develop an overseas business.

Alongside increased emigration there has also been a massive outflow of private money from China despite its strict currency controls. The report estimates that rich Chinese — those with assets of more than 10 million yuan — have about 3.6 trillion yuan ($564 billion) invested overseas.

"The Chinese economy now looks like a massive funnel," said Zhong Dajun, director of the non-governmental Dajun Center for Economic Observation & Studies in Beijing.

Zhong said it is mostly corrupt government officials who transfer entire fortunes overseas because they have been illegally acquired and "they have fears and feel guilty."

Wealthy Russians have also been establishing footholds abroad for the past decade, seeking a safe haven both for their money and their children. In recent years, the trend has extended to Russia's emerging middle class. They cannot afford to invest in London, a favorite destination for Russia's billionaires and millionaires, so have been setting up second homes in less expensive European countries, including those like the Czech Republic that were once part of the Soviet bloc.

Su, the property developer, intends to stay in China and continue building residential high-rises and office buildings for another 10 years because he fears it would be too difficult for him to replicate his mainland business success abroad.

His wife is already in the U.S., expecting their second child. Under China's one-child policy in place for the last three decades to control population growth, couples can be penalized for having more than one child. In Beijing, the penalty is a one-off fee 3-10 times the city's average income, a maximum of 250,000 yuan ($40,000).

"The living conditions abroad are better, like residential conditions, food safety and education," said the millionaire as he dined in the VIP room of a Beijing restaurant. Lowering his voice, he said for many rich there are worries about the authoritarian government. "This is a very sensitive topic. Everyone knows this. It's freer and more just abroad," he said.

(Source: Extracted from Yahoo! News dated 7th September 2011)

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Virtual Subway Store in South Korea

The working culture in South Korea is similar to the working culture in Japan. The South Korean office workers stay overtime until late at night daily. They don't practice flexible working hours or working for 8-9 hours as written in the employment contract. South Korea has one of the highest average workweeks and overtime hours in the world. With their rigorous work ethic, you are expected to be highly committed and go beyond of your own standards in order to keep up with the rest of your colleagues.

When they commit more time and effort on their work, they don't have extra time to shop for their necessities. Therefore, Homeplus (a retail chain store which is owned by Samsung and Tesco in South Korea) executed a brilliant idea to help them to shop at the subway stations. You can read the news as below. In South Korea, only the wealthy people can afford to buy vehicles while many of the locals depend on the public transportation such as buses and subways. Taxi (cab) is very costly to ride in South Korea. During the day, the basic rate for the taxi is 2,400 won (US$2.26) for the first two kilometers and 100 won (US$0.09) for every 144 meters thereafter. If the taxi is traveling at a speed lower than 15 kilometers per hour, 100 won (US$0.09) is added to the meter every 35 seconds. 

 A friend went on his business trip to South Korea for the first time and shocked to experience their working culture in the company. He had to join his Korean colleagues to work and sleep in the office for the straight 5 days and was able to return to his hotel on weekends. It went on until the end of his business trip there. 

I also asked my Korean friends about the working culture there. They agreed that they stayed overtime in the office until late at night frequently. When we invited them to visit San Francisco, they wished to travel but they had difficulty to apply for long vacation from the companies. 

There are many news surfaced recently that the Korean celebrities and pop stars involve in car accidents because they are over exhausted without proper rests due to their hectic schedules. Even, the popular actress, Han Ye Seul also suffered from poor working conditions with her ongoing drama series, Myung Wol the spy. She slept for one to two hours for several weeks due to overtime shooting which in the end, she couldn't take it anymore hence, she went missing for a few days before returning for production.




A virtual store with no products

세상에 첫선 보인 ‘지하철 가상 스토어’
Aug 26,2011


Customers purchase items with their smartphones by scanning QR codes using the Homeplus app at the Seolleung subway station, southern Seoul, yesterday, where Homeplus has opened the world’s first “virtual” store. [YONHAP]


Homeplus, the nation’s second largest discount chain, announced yesterday that it will open what it calls a “fourth generation retail store,” Homeplus Smart Virtual Store, at Seolleung subway station in southern Seoul today.

It says it’s the first of its kind in the world.

At a press conference yesterday before the official launch, Homeplus CEO Lee Seung-han said discount store chains must respond to rapidly changing consumer habits and behavior, and a new kind of virtual store will cater to skyrocketing smartphone users in Korea.

“Consumers will be able to order and get delivery of 35,000 products, ranging from milk, egg, pasta sauce, gochujang [Korean red pepper paste], tissues and digital cameras, by simply pulling out their smartphones and scanning QR [Quick Response] or barcodes of products shown in the subway station with the Homeplus app,” Lee said.

In fact, consumers don’t have to be anywhere near the virtual store.

“For example, if you want to order replacements of a bottle of water that you have in your hand, you don’t have to stop by the subway station,” Lee said. “You simply scan the bottle’s barcode with the Homeplus app.” The products are delivered later to home or office.

Homeplus explained it chose Seolleung station for its trial store because over 200,000 commuters use it every day.

While Android smartphone users will be able to use the service starting today, the Homeplus app won’t be available at the iPhone app store until September. Homeplus has yet to get approval of the app from Apple.

Seven pillars and six screen doors of Seolleung station have displays of 500 products with QR codes, the square scannable codes that are replacing the traditional barcodes.

“Products will be delivered at a time chosen by consumers, and delivery fees will range from 1,000 won ($0.92) to 4,000 won depending on the hour of the day,” Sunny Jung, an official at Homeplus told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “A Homeplus store close to a customer’s address will deliver the products. Each store will make deliveries every two hours for a total of 10 times a day.”






Lee said he has been searching for ways to link smartphones and Homeplus stores since 2008, when the number of smartphone users began to spike in Korea.

According to statistics from the Korea Communications Commission, the number of smartphone users is expected to jump to 25 million in the second half of this year from 7.2 million in the first half.

Citing research done last year by the Korea Interest Security Agency, Homeplus said smartphone users said they use their mobile phones the most on commutes in subways and buses.

“When we first launched the Homeplus app in February, which directly links to the Homeplus online shopping mall, we recorded only 9 million won in sales through the app per week,” said Kim Jin-ho, an official at Homeplus. “But 650,000 people downloaded the app as of July and we see about 30 million won in sales per week now.”


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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