Professor Seungwoo Seo, Hangseo Park and Seungwoo Seo(Maeil Business News, 20181211)

2018-12-26l Hit 221

Manager Hangseo Park. Entire Vietnam is full of excitement and joy thanks to him. The country is heated up with the soccer syndrome with millions of people flocking out to the streets and shouting “Thank you, Hangseo Park”. Vietnam National Soccer team led by Manager Park made it to the finals of ‘2018 Suzuki Cup’, the largest soccer festival in East Asia, for the first time in 10 years. Citizens are cheering for ‘Hangseo Park magic’, which is still ongoing since the U23 (Under 23) team’s runner-up finish at the Asian Football Cup and the national team’s first success to the semifinals of the Asian Game.

It is similar to when Korea came together as one with soccer in 2002. Manager Park is now a hero in Vietnam, but when he moved to Vietnam in September 2017, he had nowhere to stand in Korea. He said that he did not have a choice. After serving as a head coach during the 2002 World Cup, he was chosen as the manager of the national team. Nonetheless, he got fired in 73 days after the team only received the bronze medal at the Asian Game. During the process of being hired as the manager, there was some trouble with the soccer association. Also, some assumed that the soccer society where cronyism was so heavily entrenched pushed him away since he was an outsider. Things only went downhill from there. He worked as the head coach at a team where the manager was younger than him and later became a manager of a professional team. However, he had to suffer from consecutive replacements. He was losing his ground being moved from the national team to the professional team, and to the amateur team. It was because he was the type of person who talks in a direct way and refuses to compromise.

However, he wrote a new chapter of his life in Vietnam instead of Korea. He completely transformed a weak team into a competent team with his abilities and vision. With his popularity, Korean companies and products are also gaining attention. It is as if he did a job that tens of diplomats should do.

A surprising situation where someone we ignored became a hero of another country. It is exciting and shameful at the same time. There is a mixed feeling between wanting to congratulate him for proving his true value and feeling sorry that we made him leave Korea by underestimating his capabilities. Why was his miracle as a captain not possible in Korea? There is a saying that the environment can change the people, but in this case, it was the opposite. His experience and potential that were not recognized in Korea could finally bloom when he moved to Vietnam. The unreasonable tradition in the employment process of Korea, which prioritize other elements over experience and ability, chased away the 'magic by Hangseo Park.'

Without us realizing, there is another person who is recognized more in overseas than Korea. It is professor Seung Woo Seo of SNU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. As the developer of the Korean autonomous vehicle ‘SNUver’, he has started an autonomous driving delivery service business in Silicon Valley of the United States. He is the leading authority of self-driving vehicles in Korea. The SNU research team led by him started research in autonomous vehicles back in 2009 and founded the startup ‘ThorDrive’ in 2015 for commercialization. They also managed to successfully operate the vehicle around the city including the Yeoido District of Seoul for over 60,000km.

Oversea competitors one after the other had been starting commercialization, but the startup had a hard time acquiring funds and human resources in the wasteland-like domestic autonomous vehicle market. In the end, professor Seo had to choose to go to Silicon Valley known as the land of opportunities. “Overseas investors refused to invest after seeing new services like carpool and Uber being blocked by red tape and vested right,” he said, despairingly.

The departure of a leading authority in the field of autonomous driving from Korea shows how difficult this country is for enterprises to grow in. Google’s self-driving taxis are operating in America, but in Korea, not even carpool business is allowed not to mention vehicle sharing services like Uber. This results in losing business opportunities that had the potential to create revenue in the future.  

The government opts for revolutionary development but regulation advancement is slow and the companies with fourth industrial revolution technologies are constrained by red tape. We may have to just sit and watch SNUver’s success in a few years like as if we look at Hangseo Park now.

Health care companies with developed high-end technologies are also leaving Korea due to the regulation barriers such as banning telemedicine and complicated approval processes. On social media, cynical comments are dominant some of them saying “It’s the right choice to leave if you can” and “Is this the reality of the country of IT.” It is nothing else but a misery if Korea’s skillful people yet recognized had to leave because they were disesteemed or were not provided with sufficient support to develop. Even at this moment, some potential heroes who can bring revolutionary change in Korea might be packing and leaving the country. [Editorial Yunhee Shim]

Translated by Kyungjin Lee, English Editor of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,