IT specialists face tough choices
Lee Yeon, 36, is a video game developer. Her husband also works for a video game company. She joined the firm 10 years ago and subsequently met her husband there. Her plan was to achieve her dreams, make money and raise her children in Korea. But the couple is now thinking of immigrating to Germany. She says she wants to continue working as a developer, but that it’s not easy in Korea. Considering her career and age, now is the best time to move, so it feels urgent. Content and software specialists, the key talent in a creative economy, often talk about Germany when they get together.
Lee wants to leave because she can’t picture herself in Korea in the future. She can’t bear the culture of considering content as something that is free, the contemptuous perception on the value of games, and the corporate structure of seeing software as less important than hardware.
“Are we getting the treatment we deserve?” asks Lee. Her high school grades were very good, but she loved art and majored in it at college. Then she fell in love with animation and got into character development. She has heard people criticize her many times for her career choice. She could have laughed off the ignorant comments, but she doesn’t deserve such derision.
Now that she is a mother of two, she doesn’t want to deal with such prejudice in a country where the top 2,000 students choose to go to medical school without exception.
Just in time, Germany wants her talent. While Germany has built the most powerful economy with smokestack industries, it is still seeking an answer for a future economic engine. Those with IT-related experience are granted legal stay and residency. For elite IT professionals who have just started a family, Germany is a more appealing destination than China.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade claims that there is no such data so far, but that immigration of IT professionals to Germany is increasing. Lee Yeon says that the option has just begun to be considered. The popular movie “Ode to My Father” highlights miners who were sent to Germany 40 years ago. Immigration to Germany from the days when the country was still poor could be repeated in the 21st century. But the difference is that national wealth will leak this time.
Lee Yeon is hesitant. “As I grow older, the lives of my children are more important than my own. I am worried that they will grow up feeling like foreigners,” she said. Parents hope that making a choice, or not making a choice, for their children will improve the foundation of their children’s future, and the feeling remains the same then and now.
*The author is a national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 1, Page 31
by KANG IN-SIK