I was in South Korea for two weeks recently.
Since I grew up in Seoul, nothing struck me as new there.
But after living in San Francisco for the past 8 months, one thing really stood out this time: Samsung was everywhere I looked.
In fact, it’s mind-boggling how big Samsung is in South Korea: its business accounts for roughly 20% of the country’s GDP.
The flight from San Francisco to Seoul takes about 13 hours. After an exhausting flight, this Samsung TV was the first thing to greet me at the airport.
I headed straight to my in-laws' apartment, where I stayed for the following two weeks. The apartment building is called Park Tower. It was built by Samsung.
The first thing I did once I got there: laundry. Not surprisingly, they had a Hauzen washing machine. Hauzen is Samsung's local home appliance brand.
I didn't know about Hauzen was owned by Samsung until then. It's actually everywhere. Like this oven.
I watched some TV and passed out early the first day. My in-laws had this curved Samsung LED TV, which was really cool. Much better quality than the regular flat screen TV I have at home.
The next morning, I had to go to the hospital, so I headed to this one: Cheil Medical Center. Apparently, Cheil Hospital was a subsidiary of Samsung until recently. It turns out the hospital's founder was Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee's cousin.
I didn't have a working mobile phone there, so I made sure to take my wife's Galaxy S5 with me. It was surprisingly good. But my wife says she's switching to an iPhone 6 when her contract's up.
Sitting in the hospital's waiting area, I got bored and looked around for something interesting. I found this stack of copy paper -- all made by Samsung.
Volleyball was on. The game was slow -- until I realised it was Samsung Insurance's team playing. Go Samsung!
After seeing the doctor, I headed to a bookstore. Some of the best-sellers were about Samsung, like this one titled, 'Post-Samsung Electronics.' Lots of Koreans are concerned about the future of Samsung.
I wanted to take a look at this book titled 'Think Samsung.' The book, written by Kim Yong-chul, Samsung's former top legal counsel, is a tell-all expose of Samsung's supposedly corrupt and illicit activities. It was so controversial when it came out in 2010 that some reports said no newspapers carried ads of the book, in fear of retribution by Samsung.
The bookstore I went to was right next to a department store called Shinsegae, which was owned by Samsung until the 90s. So it wasn't so surprising to see them have sign-up kiosks for Samsung credit cards.
Next, I headed to my parents' place. I took the subway, which was a 45-minute ride. On some subway stops, I saw these giant Samsung screens on the platform.
I would have preferred driving, but I didn't bring my driver's licence with me. If I did, I could have rented a car like this one, an SM3, made by Renault Samsung Motors.
My dad is a big fan of Samsung laptops. He just bought this one last year. It's pretty sleek, except for the dirty screen.
I made one last stop at a bank before heading back home. The bank teller asked me if I wanted to sign up for Samsung's 'Value Plus' fund, an index fund run by Samsung Asset Management.
It was a little too much Samsung for me, so I politely declined the offer. I just wanted to get back home and rest.
But I pressed something wrong at the front door, and an alarm went off. I had to play with this Samsung control panel to turn it off. It's a home security system that has a camera connected to the front door. You can also make phone calls and control the house heating system with it.
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