Monday, 29 June 2015

The Weird, Wonderful and Inappropriate World of Email Handles in Corporate Korea



It's an epidemic!

Ok maybe that language is a bit strong but it is certainly a trend that needs addressing. Korean workers are guilty of choosing very odd and sometimes inappropriate work email handles. Clearly Korean companies first mistake is that they give their workers a choice of email handle, but I am very appreciative that they have given workers the freedom to make their own mistakes.

Those who have been involved with Korea before at a business or even academic level would have come across this

What's more surprising is that Korean corporate culture is itself very structured and governed by a very formal set of perceived rules and etiquette, whether it be introductions, exchanging business cards or even having a drink together there is a raft of small but very important etiquette to be observed for Korean business people.

Picture the scenario of exchanging a business card in a Korean business context- you bow and shake hands with your left hand under your right to show respect, you then receive a business card with both hands again to show respect and scan the card politely, in this instance you look down to the email and see something like "ilovemyself@company.com" (by the way that is a REAL example).

I've come across a raft of bizarre email handles during my time working for and with Korean companies and I have compiled a list of common trends. Now this article has been compiled with the help of some of the expat community in Korea and the below email examples are all REAL and from major Korean companies, like Samsung, Hyundai, LG, Kogas, Major News outlets etc. used in real business situations and emails!

If you have your own example and you would like to share please do in the comments section below!


The Childhood Nickname
"It's what my friends used to call me" is the inspiration behind this email handle and leads sometimes senior and respected business people to use the following with varying success!

Examples - 
17Monkey@Company.com (this is a university professor's handle)
Mabari@Company.com (Naver says it's a 'pack horse' whatever that is!)
GiraffeLin@Company.com
Turtle1990@Company.com (I'm sensing an animal theme! and no it's not entourage inspired)

Thank god these people had animal nicknames as kids! If I applied the same logic to my email then you would get "k0ckd4wG69@company.com" or something cool like that.


The Korean Name typed on a English Keyboard
So this one is really just lazy but i guess in a sense practical. This occurs when Koreans simply type their name in Korean and just leave the roman characters. They better hope that people keep their business cards handy because good luck memorizing these!

Examples -
김지원 (Kim Jiwon) = rlawldnjs@company.com
박재원 (Park Jaewon) = qkrwodnjs@company.com


The Initials with Random Numbers or Sometimes Birthdays
I can relate to this email handle, my first ever email was "mike99012@hotmail.com" and I had a legitimate reason, when i typed in mike@hotmail.com in the 90s it was taken and I was given the above number as a suggestion, I was also 12 YEARS OLD! That said in Korea there are a raft of names that are popular and are fairly homogeneous so that does pose a legitimate problem for many in major corporations which share thousands of employees under the one domain name. In this instance there isn't much other option but I would still want to see a name.lastname(number) variety than the examples below.

Examples - 
ljw_1940@company.com (She is '87 baby so I'm not sure what 1940 represents!)
rej0912@company.com
kim090483@company.com


The direct translation of Korean name into English, or their own (self-assigned) English name.
This link says it all really - http://cokcok.tistory.com/1452
It's basically what happens when Koreans google translate their name into English or give themselves a hilarious English name

Examples -
Silver@company.com
Waiting@company.com
Evolution@company.com
SupportPark@company.com
GloryKim@company.com
PowerCho@company.com
IamLegend@company.com (Not a Will Smith fan, his English name is 'Legend')
Legolas@company.com (See above, replace Will Smith with Orlando Bloom)

The "WTF"
There is no rational explanation, it happened and now it's on their business card forever! I just hope they don't meet too many English natives, I just wish I could remember more of the examples!

Example -
ilovemyself@company.com
penismight@company.com (Thanks go to @walter_foreman)
marryme07@company.com


Leave your suggestions in the comments below and I will add to the article!

The List

k2d2100@ 
lionking@ 
plasma88@ 
tigermask@ 
eastman@ 
happy@ 
Breeze@ 
comekgc@ 
ditto@ 
kss0923@ 
ahn12321@ 
ock3509@ 
faholo@ 
inflames@
fatbear@
princessteacup@
dragone@
jintonic@
frogtown@
whiskey-jar@
enlightened1@
starrykiss@
fromage90@
super5249@

18 comments:

  1. This was hilarious! Especially that last link. I don't have any personal experience with this one but now I wish I did. :P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Examples from a division of Hyundai

    Postchoi
    Skypapa
    goldline
    happyton1212

    ReplyDelete
  3. My name is 김지현, spelled Jihyun Kim. There are 36 Jihyun Kims from my alma mater and 50+ 김지현's with no English information or different spellings (e. g. Jihyeon Kim). Imagine the struggle. At my work there are 3 Jihyun Kims I found so far and there's probably more. I'm only an intern so I'm not getting a company email anyways but even if I did, I'm surely not getting jihyunkim@company.com. Good luck finding a 'professional' e-mail address that's not already taken when you have the 12th most popular girl name (according to some random website. I would give you supreme court stats but ActiveX won't let me) and a surname that accounts for 20% of the population. Maybe I should change my name so I won't be judged by some foreigners for having numbers in my email.

    You see, there were 39022 babies registered in April 2014 and the most popular name 민준 accounts for 449 of them(http://www.lec.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=33068). That's over 1%. 21% of Korean population has Kim as their family name so let's say that 1/5 of them are 김민준. If there are 1000 people there are at least 2 김민준's. Large corporations sometimes have 10K+ employees. Of course preferred baby names change over the years, but I'd bet 20 of them at the very least have the same exact name.
    "there can't be that many people with the exact same name or initials to warrant the random number even in Korea with fairly common reoccurring names" There can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jihyun,

      Thanks for the comment and yes, that is a very fair point and I will make an amendment. I was discussing this the other day and I also didn't factor in that major corps use the same domain across multiple companies. eg - everyone has 'samsung.com'; That said you still won't see too many putting Jihyun.Kim(BirthYear)@ or rather into their email address.

      Delete
    2. Also, what's so wrong with self-assigned English name? When I'm not using my ac.kr e-mail from uni I still use jihyunsophiakim@emailprovider.com from my study-abroad years. 지현(智賢) is wisdom and Sophia is wisdom in Greek so it's basically Google translating my name but never have I ever been told it was unprofessional, and it never stopped me from getting acceptance letters when I was in the US. It's not like 'Mericans can pronounce Jihyun right ever, so...

      I even have a self-assigned "middle name" Victoria because I want to be victorious. I honestly identify with that name more than my birth name which was chosen by my mother before I even had a brain. It was brought up a couple times in my interviews and they seemed to think of it positively. I even got a mug monogrammed SKV for Sophia Victoria Kim as a good bye gift when I moved back to Seoul.

      Delete
    3. Quite clearly there is nothing wrong with jihyunsophiakim etc, but 'waiting' 'powercho' 'iamlegend' are a little funny

      Delete
    4. I chuckled at 'waiting' the first time I saw it, I'd give you that, but then GloryKim… You do realize that actual people whose actual names are derived from glory (eg Gloria or even Glory itself as their name) actually exists, right? If Sophia is acceptable then why not Glory… Anyways my real question is, what entitles you to tell other people what name they can or cannot have?

      Delete
    5. Hello The Sawon. I'm also Korean. Very Korean Korean. :) Let's say I'm your light fan that I Googled 'sawon korea' and found your blog again after a year.

      You should know that that's Korean culture and respect it. No one is entitled to depreciate a different culture. I don't mean you depreciate it. However, yes, you may be regarded as rude or a racist in that it is generally regarded as racism even imitating a different accent like an accent of immigrants or a minor/ethnic group in a country. (In that sense, there are sadly so many rude, racist Koreans in Korea, though. But off topic.)

      I know you didn't mean any offense. Also I know you were just pointing out some differences. I may do too with my Korean/foreign friends. However, what you wrote may be uncomfortable for others. (Now I'm doing a startup and hope it will be bigger in the future. Then I will hope my colleagues or employees wouldn't have such funny email addresses. Another off-topic.)

      Oh, no one can talk about others! It's very a sensitive matter. :)

      Anyway it's an interesting subject. WHY they do that? It's a phenomenon/culture with million factors. A hard subject.

      (I don't know what a proper line is. Sorry. However it was good to ready your posting to understand again that they are really fun and strange to foreigners!)

      Delete
  4. I used to do level testing for Hyundai and I've seen some good ones!

    fatbear@
    princessteacup@
    dragone@
    jintonic@

    and my favorite...

    frogtown@

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha brilliant! I really want to know the idea/reason behind frogtown!

      Delete
  5. Thanks for a great laugh and for writing a post I had been dreaming abour for a while. Here are a few I have collected (and yes all are real!)
    whiskey-jar@
    enlightened1@
    starrykiss@
    fromage90@
    super5249@

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gold!
      Thanks for the comment and the input! What strikes me most about Fromage90 is the 90; surely there weren't two cheese fans in the same company!???!?

      Delete
  6. A friend of mine also had "ilove'hisname'@provider.com" als email address. He said it's because his first syllable starts with "N" and his second with "Y", he took the exclamation "I love New York" as inspiration and replaced New York by his name.

    I told him he should take another email address when applying for German companies since it is very uncommon to took something other than the name, sometimes also number.

    Thanks for the thing with typing the name on a roman keyboard. I never thought much about email addresses, but now I know where it comes from.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Speaking in that reporter's defense, his name is a synonym for "standby", or "to wait" in Korean(I'm quite sure you have already noticed that :) ). I saw it's kind of a culture in Korean press media business that reporters make their mail handles using a pun or at least with something memorable.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yea I have to agree as a Korean American it is really strange. Company should just give out emails, and on the example above it should just be jihyun.kim22 or something, it would be a random number (based on order of entry) but at least not strange

    ReplyDelete
  9. Some of my faves

    familynamekim@ (corporate card)
    studymachineminseok@ (university tutor)
    bestprofessorhan@ (university email)
    abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz@naver or something similar

    ReplyDelete
  10. And I can sky4u@company... (business card of a director)
    and lucky21@... for an exmployee ! ^^

    ReplyDelete
  11. To buy corporate identity you need to compiled a list of common trends. This is so simple to do.

    ReplyDelete