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How I met the Scrum Community in Korea

January 13, 2012

In 2011 I spent 3 months of my parental sabbatical in Seoul, South Korea. Among other things I took a 10 week class in Korean. I had searched Google before on Scrum and Agile in Seoul but hadn´t found much. Once my Korean was at the level to type Hangul, the Korean alphabet, I searched for Scrum (스크럼) Seoul and pretty quickly found the site of the the Agile User Group in Seoul (yeah!).

I figured out the organizer of that group, namely June Kim (김창준) and asked him when the User Group would meet. In his reply he told me that would be in a couple of weeks. Also he asked me if I would share on my Scrum Master experiences at Ableton in a spontaneously organized smaller setting. Actually I was hesitant in the first moment, since I hadn´t given a presentation even in German before.But, in the second moment I thought, wow, this is a cool experience to share my experience with a Korean crowd.

Some weeks later we met about 12 people and I shared on Agile in Berlin, Germany and also on my own experiences. People from smaller and bigger companies showed up, e.g. Yahoo and LG and of course June Kim, who is kind of an Agile person of the first hour in Korea.

Afterwards we went to a German Beerplace called “Oktoberfest” and had some beer and sausages. I had a really interesting discussion with June and another guy on June´s Agile Coaching approach and life!

Some weeks later I got a response from Bas Vodde, whom I emailed some weeks ago, since he gives classes all over Asia. I received the contacts of Wisang Eom and 2 other people working as Agile Coaches at LG. I met with them for dinner and we had a very good discussion on the spread of Scrum at LG, the cultural challenges through the strong Korean hierarchical system and again on life in the software industry in Korea. This was really an awesome evening (by the way… Koreans like beer).

As I understood Scrum is far less popular in Korea than here in Germany. Probably like Germany some years ago. While we have access to lots of resources in Germany, including training through Agile consultancies, conferences and access to many of the US speakers, in Korea there is much less of that. The first reason is the language, since Koreans are not so used to speak English, and the second is, that traveling within Asia is pretty expensive compared to the European low cost travel. So for an speaker from US (say Jeff Sutherland) it is pretty easy to visit Europe, give some trainings first in London, the Denmark, then Germany, then Switzerland, in Asia this does not work out so easily. They were actually quite jealous to our access to Agile resources in Germany ;)

My 3rd contact and I was really amused and honored, was when a couple of weeks later I got an email from a girl organizing the “first” Agile unconference in Seoul (at least I understood that) end of November in Seoul. I was asked to be one of the keynote speakers :) (thanks again, what an honor for a young Scrum Master like me). Unfortunately I had already booked my tickets back for middle of November, that would have been awesome!

So back in Berlin now. I hope to see some of the guys again when I visit Korea next time!




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