Thursday, March 26, 2009

Closing thoughts

While the students’ suitcases were packed with many souvenirs, perhaps more lasting will be their memories of a land halfway around the world. Despite spending half a semester studying about South Korea's history, culture and economy, it was difficult for many to predict what they would encounter. After the 10-day trip -- including a week in country -- they had a lot to say.

To conclude this blog, we asked some of them to share their thoughts, which follow below.

Dani said her travels provided her with context on where the United States fits into the world scene.

"The most important thing that I learned about Korea is that the culture is so different from the US, yet they have found tremendous economic success even with these cultural differences," she said.

"Many foreigners consider America the economic powerhouse because of the techniques enacted within the nation. But, countries such as Japan and Korea, who have largely differentiated cultures and histories, have found the same success as the United States. It amazes me how whole countries find their strengths and weaknesses and play on those to create a successful economy."

Eric couldn’t pick just one highlight, so he provided a list:

1) Seeing Seoul stretch out for miles and miles from atop Seoul Tower on Mount Namsan at night.
2) The modernity, cleanliness, and size of Seoul, especially given that everything in the sprawling metropolis was built after the mid-1950s.
3) The prevalence of technology that seems to be superior to what we have in the United States.
4) Playing “football” with the SKKU students at Han River Park and having an amazing time with them at lunch. Their genuine kindness and generosity is unparalleled and we forever owe them a debt of gratitude.
5) Our adventures with the mannequin hand. Enough said.

To explain, three students purchased mannequin hands from vendors and had fun with them throughout the week in various contexts. One student now has a photo gallery on his Facebook page entitled, "A Handful of Seoul."

Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business in the last couple of years have placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on increasing student awareness and understanding of the world around them. In 2003, alumnus Ed Hutton contributed $9 million to IU to establish an endowment for the International Experiences Program. The students' trip was one of four spring break trips abroad.

Nikhil said he saw the impact of the efforts first-hand.

There were a whole lots of things that we learned in Korea, but the most important of them was the fact that I learned the importance and the true value of being a Kelley undergraduate student," he said. "I realized how well known and appreciated we are even outside of the United States. The hospitality that we received from the SKKU students was simply amazing."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Students really got around; Some get wet

In addition to activities arranged by the Kelley School, students had ample opportunities for free time in Seoul.

They explored the extensive subway system, which operates using a T-money card. The plastic card resembles most ATM cards, except that it is easier to load money onto it for use in the subway, on buses and in taxis and even to make phone cards.

T-money can could be bought for 3,000 won (or $2.18 U.S.) and then any amount can be loaded on the card. Fares are deducted from it when you pass through the turnstiles.

Most of us got around for the week for less than $15. The efficient system is being looked at as a model for other countries’ transit systems.

Speaking of money, the exchange rate between the two nations’ currencies heavily favored the American college students. Throughout the week, the exchange rate between the U.S. Dollar and the Korean Won was as high as $1 to 1,475 won.

A good dinner out cost as little as $4.35 (6000 won) to about $11 (15,000 won).

Tuesday night, most of the students headed to Seoul World Cup Stadium to see the FC Seoul soccer team lose to Kwanglu.

The mixer at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), also on Tuesday, was only the beginning for students at the two business schools. Many of them remained in touch with each other throughout the week and on Friday got together for a day of basketball, soccer and lunch in the Han River Park.

According to students, the friendly competition was spirited, as evidenced by a few minor scrapes. No one knows what the final score was. Everyone went home with the gift of a gold bookmark from the SKKU students.

On Saturday afternoon, some of the guys did something that had deep meaning for themselves. With input from Professor Kang, they visited a public bath and sauna near the hotel.

They took the advice in the Lonely Planet guide to Seoul to heart, “Don’t leave Seoul with experiencing an 'oncheon' (public bath) and a sauna where you can simmer or steam yourself like a dumpling.”

It included communal baths (men and women bathe separately) of varying temperatures, a rubdown and more relaxation than they’d felt in their first two decades.

According to Deepak, the five-hour experience was “better than the day I was born.”

"Our aimless wondering around Seoul got us to the most amazing spa and massage resort. The five hours that we spent there are indescribable," Nikhil added. "The satisfaction of sitting in a hot tub, staring at the blue skies, in a foreign country cannot be put into words. No one should leave Seoul without experiencing the tradition Korean massage and spa."

"Hands down, the highlight of my trip was spending almost five and a half hours in the Dragon Hill Spa," Andrew said. "With seven floors of pure relaxation, there wasn't enough time to see everything. I didn't want to leave! The salt treatments, back massages, skin scrubs, energy baths and hygiene stations left me with the smooth skin of a 2 month old baby. What more could you want in life?"

Another perspective

As much as you've enjoyed reading this blog, we have other required reading.

In addition to the students’ posting to their personal Facebook pages, Nikhil also blogged along the way at a site presented by the Center for International Business Education and Research.

He wrote about the difficulty some students had in finding vegetarian offerings.

"Korean streets and restaurants are full of various kinds of meat. In the last three days, we have tried the weirdest food like silkworms and quail eggs," he wrote. "The only thing the four vegetarians in the group get to eat is kimchi and rice.

"However, that is when the life saviors McDonald's and Subway come in! There is nothing like having familiar food in a foreign land," he added. "Occasionally, the rest of us give in and get a bite of the Big Mac (actually called a “Big Bulgogi”).”

The rest of his comments can be found online at

The time difference

A traditional Korean meal usually includes a main dish, accompanied by several “free” side dishes, referred to as “banchan.” Similarly, the near daily reports in this blog about students traveling in South Korea usually were the main course.

Now that we’re back at IU, this “reporter” has opened his notebook to share a few more fun “small plates” in the next couple of postings.

We arrived home safe Sunday night (March 22), after a 22-hour odyssey that began at 8 a.m. local time in Seoul (7 p.m. Saturday in Bloomington) and included flights from Seoul to Tokyo, Tokyo to Chicago (about 12 hours) and Chicago to Indianapolis.

The time difference between Bloomington and Seoul had deep meaning for one student on the trip – Dani – who celebrated her birthday Friday night. A twin, Dani always has been the younger sister, having been born a couple minutes later than her sibling. However, for the first time in her life she was the older sister.

Dani celebrated her birthday at the Chinese restaurant Din Tai Fung and into the evening elsewhere, while her sister obviously was sleeping. Also celebrating a birthday early was Ron, Rosanna’s husband.

"The highlight of my trip was celebrating my birthday in Seoul," she said. "Although it was tough to be away from my family, I was comforted by my many new friends and acquaintances. They graciously accepted me and celebrated my 'golden' birthday with me.

"It was very nice to know that everyone was so welcoming and friendly," she added. "The hospitality that I recognized, whether from those who traveled with me or those who were Korean natives, was a huge factor in my fantastic experience."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Delicious hospitality

It has been suggested that it would be most appropriate to blog about the wondrous variety of food available here in Seoul. Just within walking distance from our hotel here in the business district, you can find just about anything.

If you go Korean, you might try bulgogi Рtender, thinly slice beef simmered with noodles in a broth Рor bimimbap Рyour choice of meat saut̩ed with vegetables and rice and often with an egg on top. Another common way to go is with a hot, spicy soup.

All Korean meals come with banchan, generous and free additional side dishes that could include kimchi, radish greens and even seafood.

On the coast, such in Incheon, you might pick out a couple of fish, part of which the chef will slice into sashimi and then cook the rest at your table in a soup.

Just like at home, people here want variety. Thus it’s easy to find Italian, Japanese and Chinese restaurants. Because of the influence of the nearby military base, the Itaewon area offers you with an opportunity to eat around the world without ever leaving Seoul.

One dining experience that will stand out, however. Students were invited to dinner at Din Tai Fung, an award-winning restaurant that specializing in small steamed buns – known to most Westerners as "dumplings."

Din Tai Fung was ranked as one of the world's top 10 restaurants in 1993 by The New York Times. Its original location is in Taiwan, but other select locations have opened Japan, the United States and here in Korea.

There is no media hype. The food is fabulous.

Mr. Joo, who has an MBA from the Kelley School, operates Seoul’s three locations, in addition to his other business ventures.

The restaurant sometimes also serves as the meeting place for the local IU Alumni Association chapter. More than a dozen IU alumni now succeeding in business, government and the media joined us at the dinner, along with about 35 students from the IU journalism school and the LAMP program.

Mr. Joo graciously served as our host for Friday night, treating us to a delicate seafood soup, broccoli and broth-filled dumplings, shrimp shu mai, greens and other tasty treats.

Many of these same alumni will welcome IU President Michael McRobbie and a university delegation here in May. We extend them many thanks for extending us the same warm hospitality.

All week, several have helped us to feel at home here, particularly Professor Heejoon Kang and his dear wife Younga. We also thank Dean Robert Klemkosky, who made most of the arrangements for our visits; the staff of our hotel and many people on the streets of Seoul who worked through the language barrier to help us find our way.

Sunday, we're heading home with many fond memories in large part to their efforts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The world's most serious tourist spot - the DMZ

Whenever you travel to a new place, especially in another country, it is natural to look into local conditions and to be concerned about news events there, especially when they are much different from at home.

As most are aware, South Koreans thrive economically and socially within the international community, in stark contrast to their neighboring brethren in North Korea. The communist country again has gotten the world’s attention with its plans to launch a missile in early April.

North Korea also has been in the news here for briefly closing its border to the Gaesong Industrial Complex, a special economic zone where South Korean-owned factories employ about 39,000. Our guide told us that North Koreans there earn about $70 a month – which they consider a good salary – making clothes, watches and other small items.

Daily life here in Seoul seems largely unaffected by these things. Many people have told us that they feel safe, while acknowledging that conditions in North Korea are “not good.” We have felt safe here – in fact safer than in many U.S. cities. Many IU faculty have come to teach here, in addition to the sending students here, without need for concern.

However, the picture was less clear when our group visited the Demilitarized Zone, which marks the border between the two countries. It was established on the ceasefire line at the end of the Korean War in 1953, when only an armistice was signed.

As we made our way up the hour drive northwest, we gradually saw increased signs of security measures. Initially, we saw barbed wire lining the highway and occasional guard towers. Eventually, as we entered what has to be one of the most usual tourist destinations on the planet, South Korean soldiers stopped our bus and came on to check passports.

It was not a time for humor, although we felt at ease.

The first place we went to was Imjingak Park, where the so-called “Freedom Bridge” is located. To many, especially older Koreans, it is better known as the “Bridge of No Return.” It was a place where many Koreans had to decide at the end of the war on which side of the border they would reside.

Many Korean families were divided as a result and many South Koreans come here on the Lunar New Year and Korean Thanksgiving Day to pay their respects. It is the closest place they can be to relatives and ancestors (ancestor worship is common here).

Being here is sobering. One look through the fence placed part way across the structure and you’ll see that it is the real “Bridge to Nowhere.” A train passes by quietly, just across the border. Someday, many South Koreans hold for a unified country as indicated here by a pool in this park in the shape of the complete Korean peninsula.

About 2 million people come here each year.

We then boarded a local tour bus for the Third Tunnel of Aggression, which built into granite about 300 meters underground by the North Korean army. Discovered in 1978, the tunnel is 1,635 meters long and 2 meters both in height and width.

To get there, we put on hard hats and rode a tram into the ground. According to information we were provided, it was large enough to accommodate 32,000 fully dressed soldiers in an hour.

“This is the largest one among those that have been discovered up to now, and we can certainly guess how strong a North Korean plot to invade the South was at that time,” the brochure reads.

Based on our experience in the tunnel, they would have had to be short in size.
Next, we boarded the bus up, which usually provides an excellent view into North Korea. But Thursday’s heavy fog obscures the view. Many took an opportunity here to get souvenirs instead.

Our final stop on the tour was Dorosan Station, a thoroughly modern train facility about 700 meters from the southern boundary of the DMZ. Built about a decade ago, it is a symbol of the countries’ division. It completed the Gyeong (the Seoul-Sinuiju) railway line and it is connected to track that could talk you through North Korea, China, former Soviet republics, Russia and beyond.

Three trains run each day to north to Dorasan, but the train stops at that point. Interestingly, the theme on the DMZ brochure said, ironically,“Yes, We Can!”
Once back in Seoul, the bus dropped us off at a museum dedicated to the Korean War. While a few went inside, others chose to re-entered today’s more hopeful city.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Admittedly, when students opted for Korea at spring break instead of Florida, they also ruled out Disneyworld. What most people don’t know is that Everland, the world’s seventh largest theme resort, is located here.

And it has one heck of a roller coaster -- the T Express. Billed as the highest inclination wooden coaster in the world, it drops you by 77 degrees at one point and provides quite a rush over the entire three minutes.

The coaster ride and a ride through the park’s Safari World was part of a company visit. Everland is a subsidiary owned by Samsung that celebrated its 30th anniversary three years ago. It had 9.1 million visitors last year and has had 1.6 billion people come through its gates during its history.

Leisha and Lila are its mascots. Our host, Kayoung, acknowledged that a lot of people think they look like mice, but really they are "cute lions."

On Thursday, it will be completely different. We’re off to the DMZ.

Samsung's Toyshop

Young people attending college today have always known the Internet and cell phones, hardly remember floppy discs and are instantly astonished when told that people once watched television in black and white.

So it was impressive when today’s tech-savvy students were similarly taken aback by the innovations they witnessed Wednesday at Samsung Electronics Co

And while we can tell you about what we saw at the company’s center in Suwon City, we can’t show you anything past the lobby, where this picture was taken.

No cameras allowed.

As you see in the photo, we were warmly welcomed by one of the world’s fastest growing companies. After a briefing about revenue growth, product lines and corporate philosophy, they showed us the toys.

The first thing we saw was a cell phone that shows you the person speaking to you on the other line. Then there’s the cell phone with a small projector built in, which can project a widescreen image of up to 50 inches. Also of interest to the style-conscious was the phone designed by Georgio Armani.

Another phone will allow you to obtain your body temperature and heart rate while working out. If you like your music, another option is the wireless Bang and Olufsen speakers.

The company’s cell phone research is done at the Suwon campus.

Getting away from the hand-held devices, we were shown a giant high definition TV within a handmade wooden frame. It could be yours for about $9,000 (U.S.), but it’s not yet available for sale in the United States.

Running down the list, there also were the 80-inch plasma screen, the pebble-design MP3 players, many other home entertainment products and the prettiest air conditioners we’d ever seen.

Our visit could be compared to being at the annual Consumer Electronics Show.

Of Samsung’s 159,000 workforce, nearly a third, of 40,000 are engaged in research and development. More than 10 percent of Samsung employees have PhDs.

"Because of R&D investment spending, we are among the top 10 companies in the world. We believe that the large investments for R&D have helped us to be the leading company," said one of the executives giving the briefing.

To help retain quality employees, Samsung invests in benefits such as meals for employees – several delicious choices in Japanese, Korea and Indian cuisine were available at lunch today – child day care, exercise facilities and continuing education. One member of Samsung’s human resources team said that another draw is the Korean business philosophy towards solving problems – that there can be more than just one solution.

After seeing the present and future, we were shown Samsung’s "museum" and within an hour everyone had another souvenir from our trip, a handsome framed copy of the photo – similar to the one above – which employees took only an hour earlier.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SKKU says "Hello Kelley!"

The sign said simply, “Sungkyunkwan University Global Business Administration Program warmly welcomes members of Kelley School of Business.”

According to Rosanna Bateman, who had been on campus earlier in the day Tuesday, excitement among SKKU students was high and she wasn’t surprised by the overwhelming student involvement at a reception later on.

In the last few years, ties between the two schools have become close. Last year, the two institutions signed an agreement that will bring together students, faculty and programs.

Founded in 1398, Sungkyunkwan University -- known to many as SKKU -- is the old royal university. Now private, it is South Korea's third largest university with 24,000 students and the country's second-ranked business school.

Also there to welcome us was Robert C. Klemkosky, the founding dean of SKK Graduate School of Business, who previously taught at Kelley and had been its associate dean of research and operations, chair of the Finance Department and director of the MBA Investment Management Academy.

Several Kelley professors regularly make the trip to Seoul to teach here. Among them is Heejoon Kang, a professor of business economics and a native of Korea. He has been our host this week and we greatly appreciate his looking out for us.

Soon, students from the global business undergraduate program at SKKU will take come to IU Bloomington and the Kelley School for a new program that will enable them to earn degrees from both universities.

A very selective program, it will admit only students in the top 1 percent of their high school class. Already, it has attracted hundreds of applications. Kelley students also will soon come to SKKU for a similar program.

In little under a year from now, Kelley students will have an opportunity to extend hospitality in return. The first undergraduate SKKU students will arrive in Bloomington next January.

Students from both schools will get together on Friday night.

“Students from SKKU Global Business Administration welcome you with whole heart,” the invitation to “Hello Kelley!” reads.

IU also was represented on the campus. In addition to the Kelley students and faculty, other invited visitors to SKKU today include economist Gerhard Glomm and political science professor Jean Robinson. The banners were out.


In Korean, Kyobo means, "education."

So it should be no surprise that Kyobo Life Insurance Co. -- in addition to its insurance offerings -- is involved in several educational pursuits, including a chain of bookstores that recently had the attention of both and Barnes & Noble.

Through the efforts of Professor Pil HwaYoo of SKK Graduate School of Business, arrangements were made for us for a presentation by Eugene Chung, senior vice president of Kyobo’s investment management division.

Chung discussed the investment philosophy and principles of the 51-year-old company, which had annual premium income last year of $7 million. Kyobo is one of Korea’s “big three” life insurers and has 18,600 agents and another 4,177 employees.

Unlike other insurance companies recently in the news, Kyobo has taken a conservative approach and attracted more interest from a couple students who were happy to exchange business cards with Chung’s associates.\

Finding new friends at Seoul's Woodstock

Believe it or not, but our group went to Woodstock for a gig.

It’s a club on the third floor of a building in Itaewon that only had attracted a handful of people – a total of four, in fact, before the Kelley students arrived on this slow Monday night.

The band had taken a break, leaving their instruments on stage. Andrew, Jenny and Aashish didn’t think anyone would mind if they played them. Andrew played the bass, while Jenny and Aashish took turns on the drums.

Once they got going, the band members returned and together everyone jammed on songs made famous by Brian McKnight and Damien Rice. Afterwards, they played some billiards and “talked a lot.”

Andrew said their new founds friends had many questions about the United States and are very interested in American culture.

"They said they were pretty happy we came because they were bored," Jenny said proudly. "We took over; Kelley took over. We wrote our names on the white board. We left our mark."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hyundai and a Hero

Back home, Oprah Winfrey’s been known to give away cars every once in a while. Today, every student from IU’s Kelley School of Business visiting Hyundai’s factory in Asan is coming home with a new car.

That’s right.

After giving a thorough tour of the 4,000-employee production facility, Jin Lee, a member of the company’s general affairs team, presented everyone with a scale model of one of the company’s cars.

So it shouldn’t be too hard to get the cars home.

Many students also will bring home their impressions about the 15-year-old plant, which produces about 300,000 cars annually. Spread out over 1.8 million square feet, the highly automated facility features a press shop, welding and painting facilities and an assembly operation. It also has two engine shops that make 850,000 units annually and a foundry.

More than 300 robots and just 35 workers over a 50-hour work week manage two enormous metal presses, which make the car’s chassis and doors.

Another 200 workers are in the welding area, who oversees more robots and less than a 1 percent defect rate.

About 1,000 people work in assembly operations, with more than 25,000 car parts.

Despite the fact that your new car can come in one of 14 colors, 80 percent of cars make here are black, white or silver.

After a Korean lunch in the employee cafeteria, we traveled to Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin, a memorial to South Korea’s greatest military hero.

The Seoul-born Admiral Yi (1545-98) designed a new form of metal warship called "turtle boats" and used them to achieve an astonishing string of victories over the much larger Japanese navy that attacked Korea in the late 16th century.

He is featured on the 100 won coin -- kind of similar to Lincoln being on the penny -- and statutes around the country. But this place is where he ultimately was memorized and many of his succeeding relatives are buried here.

Other than the Civil Defense sirens that we hear at about 2 p.m., this is a peaceful place. The magpie birds are a joy to see in this beautiful park, which includes a koi pond that is popular with students.

Something’s in the air

For a second straight day, the skies are overcast as we leave the city for Asan, where Hyundai Motors has one of three production facilities in South Korea.

Due to sand storms in northern China, yellow colored sand from the Gobi Desert travels with the winds and the cold front to produce hazy conditions in East Asia. CNN reported that Beijing was impacted by the “yellow wind,” and warnings were given here in South Korea.

The skies were indeed hazy today at times, particularly during the morning hours, similar to those during a foggy day. The hills in and around Seoul, as well as the city’s many towering structures were harder to discern at times as a result.

It was common to see the locals wearing masks over their faces, but it was not prevalent.

Far more common was something familiar in Indiana -- basketball courts. The large recreation area located near our hotel in Yeouido has at least eight goals. Sunday night after dark, it was remarkable for us to see a lone player working on his game.

Earlier, several courts featured more action. Monday, as we head down the expressway, we occasionally see courts along the roadside.

Seoul has two teams in Korea’s professional basket ball league, which recently wrapped up another season.

Far more popular right now is Korea’s entry in the World Baseball Classic. Several TVs in Hyundai’s employee cafeteria and a nearby lounge were tuned into today’s game against Mexico. Factory workers were engrossed in the game but were displaying little emotion, even after the Latin Americans broke open the game at the top of the second inning.

When Mexico’s Augie Ojeda hit a two-run single off Korean starter Ryu Hyun-jin with the bases loaded and with two outs, most sat stoically and silently, except for one employee who groaned silently. Obviously, it was a much different reaction than what a Hoosiers fan might show wherever he was.

Tuesday night, some students could see Korean fans in another setting. There’s a big soccer game here then and many are looking into getting tickets.

Thankfully for South Koreans, their baseball team came back, hitting three home runs to defeat Mexico 8-2.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gyeongbokgung Palace and its 21st Century Neighbors

According to its official Web site, Gyeongbokgung Palace was constructed in 1395, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded by Yi Seong-gye. After the completion of its main royal palace, the dynasty moved from Gaeseong to Seoul and it was named the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven."

With Mount Bugaksan to its rear and Mount Namsan in the foreground, Gyeong-bokgung Palace remains at the heart of this 21st century metropolis. It is a city within a city.

We arrived there after taking a short walk from our hotel to the subway line. Along the way we walked past the local offices of Deloitte Consulting – only business students would want to have their picture taken in this location.

We saw other familiar brands along the way, including a Dunkin Donuts, Starbuck’s, Outback steakhouse and a 7/11. While students are here to learn about a different country, they also are comforted by seeing some familiar names.

Well maintained by the South Korean government, Gyeongbokgung Palace’s immense size and scope was both impressive and exhausting to all of us.

Our visit began with the highly choreographed maneuvers of a changing of the guard. It concluded with a visit to the National Folk Museum. Comprised of more than 300 buildings, Gyeongbokgung is located on more than 4.4 million square feet.

After dinner over noodles and dumplings, we continued walking throughout this modern city, taking in its vibrancy and streets filled with shoppers and many well-dressed people.

A good night’s sleep is expected for everyone in our group. Tomorrow, our business visits will begin with a tour at Hyundai.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Toyko, then Seoul

We arrived in Tokyo at about 4:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, which gave us ample time to visit gift shops and sushi bars in the terminal.

Among those wanting to have real, authentic sushi was Deepak. Be sure to check out this You Tube video of him and his California Roll:


For many others, it was time for people watching. We clearly now have arrived in Asia.

After another two-hour flight, we finally made it to Incheon, an international airport located on an island about 40 minutes away from our hotel (and during light traffic). Professor Kang and our guide, “Jacqueline,” warmly welcomed us.

Tomorrow, after sleeping in, we will set out for cultural sites, particularly Gyeongbokgung, the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven."

Slumdog Millionaire

Before the trip, some of us had visited United Airlines’ web site to see what the in-flight entertainment would be for the 12-hour-plus journey. To many people’s delight, the site advertised that Academy Award-nominees “Doubt,” “The Changling” and “Slumdog Millionaire” would be among our choices.

However, as we boarded the plane, which initially was warm enough for saunas in some health clubs, there were no in-seat entertainment consoles. The blockbuster movie line-up apparently was for the first-class passengers.

Little more than an hour into the flight, the cabin temperature was more comfortable and our cheerful and professional crew on United Airlines 881, began the TV offerings with news documentaries from the BBC.

Later on the schedule would be “Spark of Genius,” a good movie about an inventor who fought the Ford Motor Co. for stealing his patent for the intermittent windshield wiper, as well as “The Secret Life of Bees” and “Quantum of Solace.”

During the screening of the first movie, a technical glitch caused us to briefly see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in a scene from “Doubt.” Would it be possible for us to see that film as well? Could the in-flight magazine perhaps be wrong?

After a few generous and discretely placed compliments to crew members about their service given, particularly about the attention given to the vegetarians in our group, one of us politely posed the questions above.

While our assumptions were indeed true, with a wink and a nod to “technical difficulties,” “Slumdog Millionaire” soon was on the screen in our cabins.

As the attendant told me later, it was the most engrossed group of passengers he’d seen in a while.

As our group of business students is learning, it always is profitable to listen to what the customer wants. Thanks.

We're on our way

It was early and chilly as two groups of students from the Kelley School of Business set out together on a bus at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, March 13 for two destinations. Half of us are off to China and the others to Korea.

All of us knew that the trip would be long. Asia is on the other side of world and more than 13 hours ahead of Bloomington. Once we reached Indianapolis International Airport, it was time for goodbye to our friends heading off for China.

While about a fourth of the contingent are experienced international travelers, about another quarter of us have never left North America. Asia and South Korea will be completely new.

Despite the strong powers of Starbucks, the natural desire our first flight out of Indy, as you can see in this You Tube video at

After a safe landing in Chicago and about a five-hour layover, we embarked for Tokyo. Also on board was a group of students from the Liberal Arts and Management Program, so IU will be well-represented in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Instead of the beach, Kelley students go global

Daytona. Vail. Seoul.

While the first two destinations may be familiar to many as spring break destinations, a group of 15 students in Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business are opting for another international locale, South Korea.

The students, along with faculty and staff, depart for Seoul on Friday (March 13), as part of a class.

"Going to Miami would have been fun, but it's predictable," said Jasmin Foster, a sophomore in the Kelley School of Business from Indianapolis, who is heading to South Korea for 10 days.

"There are already millions of other college students hitting up a sandy beach for spring break. There will be fewer of us who will be able to say we went to a foreign country, and experienced a culture so different than ours. I love to be in the minority," Foster added.

Classmate Michael Anda, a junior in the Kelley School from Ridgefield, Conn., told me, "I chose to go on this trip to South Korea because I think it's a truly unique experience to travel to a place unlike any other I have been to before. To me, college is a time to take advantage of opportunities that will not exist after graduation, and this trip fits that description."

Bruce Jaffee, chairperson and professor of business economics and public policy, quipped, "It's really an experience for them and a long way to go for spring break."

Michael Robinson, IU professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, says that "one of the things that have stoked student interest in Korea over the last decade has been an incredible wave of Korean popular culture that's entered into the Asian region and also into the U.S., particularly through movies … The other thing they connect Korea with is its high-tech, totally networked and connected society."

Korea leads the world in broadband connectivity and is a growing center for technological development worldwide. Robinson and Jaffee also noted that the classes have provided students with important context about the current global financial crisis.

"Korea has already gone through a very, very severe bubble breaking during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98," Robinson explained, "where they saw their unemployment rate rise to more than 15 percent and GNP shrunk 6 percent ... Right now, it's looking like some of the best firms that came out of that crisis, now restructured, are doing some very creative things to get through this global recession."

In Korea, students will visit business and cultural sites, as well as the Demilitarized Zone at the border with North Korea.

Danielle Metcalf, a junior in the Kelley School from Bloomington, said she hopes to gain a better understanding of one of today's major players in the international economy but not just for business success.

"Nothing productive can emerge without correct interpretation of the country and its practices," she said.

Come along with us on the trip.