Waves of Information
I still remember clearly my first programming assignment that was a simple calculator. If I typed some numbers into my computer, the results printed out on the screen. Light green letters blinked on the black screen. After the international monetary fund financial crisis that hit South Korea, IMF, The IT industry had a breakthrough in the Korean economy. Several new types of businesses appeared and disappeared in this period. For example, So-Ri-Ba-Da, the largest music sharing service in Korea, was ordered by the court to stop their business because of copyright complaints. On the other hand, Ahn Lab, a company that serves antivirus software and information security system, was a huge success. Computer science was a popular field, and many young people started a business related to computers. The information technology, IT, boom affected me when I chose my major, and this decision changed my future.
At the age of eighteen, the day that my older brother bought a personal computer, I chose computer science as my major. As windows system replaced DOS, computers became popular. The personal computer started to spread all over the country, and my older brother, who is a man who likes new things, bought it faster than anyone else. While my brother was staring at his computer, I was in my room worrying about my problem that I still hadn’t decided my major. When I was a high school student, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just was doing my best to prepare for the college entrance exams like the other high school seniors. The time came to apply to some colleges, but I didn’t make a decision. My academic advisor was not helpful because she was an inexperienced young advisor. She just recommended some teaching colleges. When I was worrying about this problem, my older brother’s first computer gave me an idea. I found out what I wanted to do. I was surprised that I no longer needed a typewriter. That day when my older brother brought his computer home, my brothers and I stayed in front of the computer for a long time.
After graduating with a major in computer science, I achieved financial independence faster than my friends. There were a lot of IT businesses in Korea, so companies needed many employees who graduated with a degree in computers. I got a job before graduation, but many friends hadn’t been able to find a job, so they hung around their house after graduation. The Internet was introduced to the public, and windows OS had made an incredible development. The computer became an important part of people’s lives. It changed not only technology, but culture and society too. For example, in 1998, the MP3 player was made in Korea for the first time. The size of the MP3 player was smaller than a cigarette box. It sold like hot cakes and changed the whole music industry in Korea. All of a sudden, CDs, CD players, and record shops disappeared. Young people no longer wrote hand written letters after the advent of free email service, and they got most music files from online sites. As technology developed, more opportunities were in the computer job market. I continually received some job offers from the other companies. Many young people studied programming to get a job in the computer field even though they studied liberal arts in college. However, the IT bubble of South Korea burst in the early 2000s.
The collapse of the computer industry was a part of Korean history and my story too. A lot of venture capital firms and banks put their enormous money into the IT companies because they expected the companies to show a profit after its second or third year, but the results were different from their hopes. The investors requested their money back. Thus, numerous firms were closed, and enormous numbers of people lost their jobs. The same sad truth happened to me. When the company that I worked for was in financial trouble, I was a little bit nervous, but I had confidence that I could get another good job immediately. However, it was my mistake. One hundred people applied for one position of engineer. The computer science field froze and was no longer a blue ocean. I tried to find new opportunities when I failed to get a job, and overseas employment was my answer. I got a job in Japan. In the early 2000s, the IT boom started in Japan, so I started to study Japanese. I thought that if I studied hard in high school, maybe I could go to Harvard University. This challenge of living in Japan expanded my views and mental horizon as well as helped me acquire a new language.