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Firms learning to communicate with expats

Firms offer real-time communication channels, hire more foreign staff

Korean firms are rushing to communicate better and more often with expats as the number of foreign residents now surpasses 1.1 million.

Kevin Ascott, a Canadian living here, said he was able to find the authorized service center for his malfunctioning smartphone through KT’s social networking hotline ― something he had been seeking for days to figure out on several websites.

“I got great service when I went there,” he wrote to the telecom service provider on Twitter. “Glad I switched to KT.”

KT, the country’s biggest fixed-line service operator, is taking the lead in launching tailored services such as the @olleh_expats Twitter account.

With about 1,700 followers it is a real-time communication channel that operates alongside its two Korean-language Twitter accounts, a KT official said.
Expats consult with a clerk at a KT global store. (KT)
Expats consult with a clerk at a KT global store. (KT)

The company also created a blog (, providing all consultation services in English, Japanese and Chinese.

The company also has a global store, which is an official service outlet for foreigners, and a customer service center for them in a bid to gain a larger share of the expat market, which is most likely to expand.

“KT is working to meet the fast-changing trends as the influence of social media outlets is getting bigger nowadays,” said KT president Pyo Hyun-myung. “We plan to continue the efforts in listening to the voices of our customers through various channels such as SNS.”

KT, however, is not the only firm in Korea driving its effort to serve people from overseas.

The nation’s IT behemoth Samsung Electronics is also running a call center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, supported in three different languages ― English, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The world’s top smartphone maker also runs an official global blog ( to update visitors with the latest news involving its products and services as well as most recent company news.

“We also have about 1,000 foreigners working for the flagship electronics arm in Korea and that number is constantly on the rise,” said a Samsung official.

The hiring of foreigners is a trend also seen in the banking and distribution industries with banks ― such as Hana, Shinhan and Industrial banks ― increasingly employing foreign staff.

Hana Bank picked a total of seven foreign employees ― four from China and one each from the U.S., Canada and Australia ― during its regular hiring this year. The company has 19 foreign employees working at its branches nationwide.

Shinhan Bank also gave positions to eight foreign nationals and the Industrial Bank of Korea hired 12, with about half of IBK’s hires taking Korean citizenship.

LG Household and Healthcare, which owns The Face Shop cosmetics brand, is also recruiting foreign workers fluent in Chinese and Japanese and dispatching them in popular with foreign nationals areas like Myeong-dong, Insa-dong and Dongdaemun.

“Although we don’t have the exact figure of foreign employees, they are hired so that the visitors from other countries can get the service they need when they come to our shops,” said a company official. “The store owners go forward with the hiring themselves, but the workers are trained and educated regularly on sales skills and how to meet customers’ demands.”

By Cho Ji-hyun (