Daum/Kakao skirt hierarchy

Interesting … I think this is a nice touch!

Daum adopts English names for employees to skirt hierarchy

By Kim You Jin

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s No. 2 portal operator Daum Communications Corp. on Wednesday said its employees will adopt English names as they embrace the anti-hierarchical work culture led by mobile messenger service provider Kakao Corp., its counterpart in an upcoming merger.

“Daum and Kakao have reviewed together how employees of the merged firm will address one another, and after much discussion, we’ve decided to follow the case at Kakao where workers call each other by their English names,” said Kang Yukyeong, a communications official at Daum.

“Some 1,600 employees currently at Daum will choose a new English name for this, and by doing so, we hope to further promote the two firms’ work ethics that prioritize openness and active participation as well as create a synergy effect between the two groups.”



Addressing employees of different ranks by their first name is uncommon in South Korea, where corporate culture is often perceived as rigid and is operated along regimented and hierarchical lines, a reflection of the country’s Confucian roots.

Such hierarchy at workplaces is palpable in local companies, where workers call each other by their position, such as “senior manager” or “director,” unlike in the United States where all employees are usually on a first-name basis.

In recent years, however, several local IT firms have been trying out new ways to change this culture, as is the case at Kakao where everyone, regardless of rank, calls each other by their first name in English. The idea is that workers are less apprehensive about sharing honest thoughts and passing judgment on new ideas.

Daum has had a similar means of creating a more laid-back atmosphere, having workers call each other by their Korean name with “-nim” at the end, which roughly translates to “dear” or “Mr.”

   “Daum had already been pursuing an easygoing culture for our workers, but the two companies felt the first-name basis using English names would be helpful in creating an even more casual and worker-friendly environment,” Kang said.

“We’ll probably come up with a concrete guideline to this process come October when the merger is finalized,” Kang added.

The two companies announced in May they will merge through a stock swap, a union that weds the portal with the operator of the most used mobile messenger service Kakao Talk. The merger, to be completed on Oct. 1, will create a company that is the second biggest on the tech-heavy KOSDAQ market with a staff of around 3,200.

Kang said that while Daum staff are picking out English names for themselves, some workers do feel they need more time to become comfortable with the idea.

“Of course, it may feel weird or awkward for people to call each other by a foreign name, but we’ll see how this system settles in when business begins at the new Daum-Kakao in October,” Kang said.


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