ABERDEEN, S.D. – For soon-
to-be Northern State
graduate Jeff Langley, studying in South Korea this summer was truly an international experience.
Langley, who attended the Hanyang University International Summer School in Seoul, made friends from countries around the globe – including South Korea, Turkey, China, Great Britain, Singapore, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Australia, Germany, Bosnia, Nigeria, Siberia and Spain.
Langley, a management major, was one of four NSU students awarded funds from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, which is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Without the Gilman scholarship, he said, the trip would not have been possible.
During the five-week program, Langley took international business and international marketing classes in a traditional college setting and stayed on campus. His classes were taught by professors from Aston University in England and Stonehill College in Massachusetts.
In his international marketing class, Langley learned that context is everything to your customer. For example: A Japanese company introduced a new automobile to the Chinese market using a TV commercial showing the vehicle traveling down a street in front of a Chinese government building. Two stone lions in front of the building bowed as the vehicle went by. Audiences saw that as the government bowing to Japan and were offended.
“You have to know your market,” he said.
In his international business class, he learned that often a country might have a resource that is needed by another supplier
or customer of a
primary contract holder. That resource will be used as payment.
“That bartering process is more prevalent than what you would believe because of the uncertainty of exchange rates of currency,” he said.
Besides classes, Langley said one of the highlights of his trip was traveling to Busan and spending a day with NSU graduate SukYoung Choi, a former NSU Korean Student Association president who now works for the Korean Development Bank. She goes to an English-speaking club on Saturdays, and he got to go with her.
Langley also got to ride the bullet train, which traveled 305 kilometers an hour, or 189 miles an hour. Despite the speed, he said, the ride was smooth.
“It was like riding in a Cadillac.”
Langley was also able to tour a Hyundai automobile assembly plant in Korea.
“It was memorable because I wrote a paper on the history and business success and failures of the company as it related to the introduction of their automobiles to the American market,” he said. “The tour confirmed my thesis, which was identifying the key to their recent market success was the company's new ability to manufacture their own engine and providing the guarantee for it.”
The trip wasn’t Langley’s first time to Korea. The Indiana native was stationed there from 1993 to 1994 while serving in the U.S. Air Force. He said he wanted to return to the country as a civilian and gain a more detailed understanding of the culture and the people.
The country has changed a lot since his first visit, he said. Back then, you didn’t eat food or drink water off base.
“Now it’s not even an issue,” he said.
It has also grown a lot – in 1993, Seoul had about 16 million people. Now there are more than 20 million, Langley said. South Korea has also doubled its gross domestic product in the last seven years.
“Their economy is amazing,” he said.
Langley lives in Monango, N.D., with his wife, Sharon, and daughters Michelle, 14, and Rachel, 7. He said he has had great educational opportunities and experiences at NSU. He was highly encouraged by a number of business associates and personal friends to get his business degree at Northern because “the quality of the education was higher than any other in the region.”
Langley graduates Dec. 8 and plans to apply for the online master’s program at Minot State University.
“I would like to own and operate my own business,” he said.
Photos: (top photo) Langley with NSU graduate SukYoung Choi, a former NSU Korean Student Association president who now works for the Korean Development Bank; (bottom photo) the view of the city (Seoul) from one of Langley's classrooms.