Let’s be honest here folks how many of you can go a day without using google? I know that I certainly am a perfect example of google effect judging only from the way I set google search as my homepage. As hard as not using google may seem, it’s definitely not a problem for Korean people here in Korea for they have their own search engine named Naver.
Unlike Baidu being a monopoly in China, Korean people are open to accessing any search engine in the world and yet Naver is still the one that they go for. Forget Google. In Korea, Naver is the best. Not just because Korean consumers are prone to using domestic products, Naver itself is super sticky and convenient in many aspects that you won’t be able to find in Google. Last school semester, having decided to celebrate something fun and academic before we parted ways, our loving Media professor gave us a wonderful chance to go on a field trip to Naver – the company of the most powerful search engine as well as portal in and of Korea.
These figures above familiar to you no? That’s right they are the emoticons from the chat application called Line – a product of Naver that’s been a buzz in Asian app market, especially in Japan for awhile. What greeted me when I first stepped inside the building was not the hostile white-collar working environment, but rather these cute giant things~~
A flying bear
First of all the main hall. So basically the ground floor is open for everyone who wants to have a glimpse at Naver. You’ll find the reception desk right next to the front doors where you’ll talk to really nice staff who can definitely speak English and give you a short guide to using the ground floor, the Naver library and the pop-up store. You can also find comfortable seats to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee which you can buy at the Naver cafe. The instructor told us that this was a favourite place of many students from schools nearby, as they would lie down on the chair, relax and even take a short nap. Apparently you can do it too because no one will scold you away, even if you’re not a Naver employee.
The pop-up store – where you can buy Naver merchandises
This is where you can freely sit down and spend the afternoon away
An~~~~~~d my favourite spot is here to which I will get around later.
So what’s so cool about Naver?
The building architecture and electronic system used inside the building simply match perfectly well together. Every little detail is smart, organic and surprisingly economical. For example, the instructor told us that all wooden furniture are not made of wood, but rather from the leftovers of the materials used for building construction. Besides, window shields can adapt the solar light, the heat et cetera to automatically adjust themselves to opening or closing, heating up the walls or cooling off the temperature. One more thing that still leaves me amazed is the elevator system which was ridiculously smart and sci-fi like. So there’s an electric board at the elevator room on which we enter our desired floor and the number of people I think and the board will direct you to the suitable box. And inside the elevator there were but 2 buttons which are opening and closing so basically you do not have to look up and down lines and lines of numbers to find the one floor you want to go to and that everything has been prepared for you before you enter the metal box. If I had understood better for I got the information through rough translations that my friend did for me at the spot since our instructor obviously spoke in Korean (thank you Lucy!), or were an IT geek, it’d be easier for me to tell you more about the cool things about my whole experience at Naver. But I’m merely an art/media student who uses smartphone just as efficiently as when she uses feature phone so yea, totally understand if you don’t get what I say. I tried ~.~.
Green is intentionally placed in strategic corners and the architects made sure to project as much green and space and privacy into the working environment as possible. The library on the ground floor was designed as a maze, with greens being grown on the top of the shelves to control the air and atmosphere for the employees. These things were strictly scientific and biology-related I have no idea lol.
The Naver library
The maze from above
A corner in the library
Cool things from the special user experience box:
This keyboard and mouse are designed for people who can only use one hand.
For blind people.
For people who can’t move their head.
Random shots here and there inside the workplace
Everyone, including me, kept “woaaa”ing and “awww”-ing and saying things like omg I want to work here or now that I see Naver I don’t think I’d want to work anywhere else anymore. Because obviously Naver has such an ideal working environment that you can never possibly imagine that this is a Korean company and this is in Korea. No suit and tie. No rush and noise. No excessive teamwork or excessive individual work. Employees are encouraged to find their most comfortable space, walk around as much as they want and get inspired. I’d never known IT people needed so much inspiration and creativity, almost as much as artists until I saw some people mindlessly walking around the garden and getting lost in their own world. The process, of course, was carried out in silence. For veterans or retired employees who think staying at home is a waste of time, they can work in the library to kill time. Pictures of the librarians can be found on the shelf at the entrance, as a way for Naver to honor their employees.
These cute tents are everywhere.
Moreover, and this is pretty important on my part, food and drinks sold here are super cheap. A can of Coke? 100won. No joke. All of the money made from selling snacks will be sent to charity so basically the company has no profit whatsoever in selling these things. And you don’t want to talk about lunch because you’ll get so excited and cry because you’re not part of 5000 Naver employees. A lunch costs around 5000~6000 KRW (depending on the sets) and there’re a few different food sets everyday for you to choose. After you get your own tray of your choice, you will head to the buffet stalls and take AS MUCH food as you want. They have all of the things that even a BBQ buffet restaurant in Korea can’t compare. Cream soup (which I had), sliced veggies, fruits, slaw, pickles, cookies, mini pies, more vegetables and more more vegetables and et cetera. You can grab a big plate and put everything together so you and your colleagues can eat together because it’ll be more fun that way. I had a tonkatsu and the set consisted of TWO big cutlets, a tortilla and a small bottle of delicious apple yogurt milk. Everything else on my tray was from the buffet stalls. I wish I could have had more, I really do but the pork cutlets almost killed me because they were so much, soooo good and full of meat.
My friend’s lunch
Cafeteria during lunch time
Man you must be thinking Naver definitely paid this gal to write the thing. But seriously, if I had a chance to work for Naver, I’d even consider staying in Korea for long long time. My professor is one of the people who know people. His initial plan was to take us to the headquarter of Kakaotalk (if you don’t know what it is then you don’t know Korea at all) but Kakaotalk CEO told him there wasn’t anything interesting to see, just building and lots of cubicles and papers. Therefore he immediately talked to Naver’s people of the board and they gladly invited us over, let us see stuff, reserved our seats in the cafeteria and the CEO himself bought us the amazing lunch!
The trip to Naver was nothing but a fantastic eye-opening experience for me and my classmates. If you want to visit the Naver library, make sure to bring your ARC/student ID card, show it to the librarian and voila, you can spend an entire day working in silence and using absolutely free Wi-fi.
Naver the green factory, Jeongja Station (Bundang line/Shin-bundang line). The taxi fare from there to Naver is only 3000KRW.
Professor, if you’re reading this post, thank you so much!!! And even if you only gave one movie ticket to each of our team members because we were only the runner-up in the final project we still love you hehe.