Wednesday, July 28, 2010

12 years of Korea

He came in June 1998 to work in the world's number one shipbuilding industry for 2 years. Those 2 years soon became 3, then 5 more popped up, then... Well, it turns out in June this year 2010 he proudly completed 12 years of Korea. This awesome guy is my dad.

 My dad Mr. Pereira or just Celso, as he likes to be called, in his former office at Samsung Heavy Industries, Geoge City, early 2009. -- Now he works at Hyundai Heavy Industries, in Ulsan.

Friends tend to ask me how he's managed to stay in Korea for so long, and I always say that he loves his job and Korea, of course, he is really good at what he does and a true hard worker, really. Well, if you want to work in Korea, you'd better be a hard worker. My father, who turned 54 this year, is a naval architect currently working as a hull superintendent at Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) - the world's largest shipbuilding company - headquartered in Ulsan. 

When his Korean journey started back in 1998, he was working as a site inspector at Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) - the world's second largest shipbuilder - located in Geoge. There, he worked on two car carriers and one bulk carrier until 2000. Then, in 2001 he moved to Ulsan to work on seven container carriers at Hyundai Heavy Industries. But, it was in 2002 that he had the job opportunity of a lifetime: to work on five LNG carriers as a hull/cryogenic inspector at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) - the world's third largest shipbuilder - located in Geoge, not far from SHI. Thanks to his experience working in the construction of Angra Nuclear Power Plant's Angra II reactor years before in Brazil, he was able to work on this 5-year LNG project which he successfully completed in 2006. Since 2007 he's been working on a "K" line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd) project that involves four LNG carriers and 14 container carriers. That's a lot, huh? The project started at Samsung Heavy Industries, but then moved to Hyundai Heavy Industries mid last year. From what I understood, he still has a good year and a half left there until the project is completed. -- Well, right now he's actually back home in Brazil on a 4-to-5-month "forced break" from the project, due to the world economic crisis. Many other projects across Korea are suffering from the crisis at the moment. It's only temporary, though.          

--- If you wish to read about LNG (liquefied natural gas) and its great importance and also concerns in today's world, please click here.
-- Oh and yeah, Korea owns the three largest shipbuilders in the world, widely known as the "Big Three". Pretty cool, huh?   -- My father says that his favorite is Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) - the third largest - for its privileged location surrounded by nature, its breathtaking internal gardens and, therefore, pleasant atmosphere. It is, as a matter of fact, the most environmentally friendly of the three.

As you can see, I love talking about my dad's years of work in this awesome country and I believe all that can be helpful to you if you had interest in reading this. In the end, that's pretty much why I decided to make this article anyway; well, to help expats like you (which is what I do here on the blog) and also to honor my dad, which is obvious, I guess. :)  However, just as much as I admire his accomplished work life in Korea, I personally find his journey all the way here equally inspiring, and not only as a daughter, but as a human being. My father was born to a somewhat poor but extremely hard-working family in a mostly middle-class (but still very rural and very provincial) city called São Gonçalo, about an hour away from the great city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His childhood and teenage weren't easy. The youngest of 4 boys, he, just like his brothers, began working pretty hard at a very young age to help his parents bring home food and clothes. Though the money was little and he had to work before or after school, he was always encouraged to study hard and had to bring home good grades. Whenever he looks back, proudly, he says that every step of the way was important for him to get this far and that his wonderful parents raised him just the right way.

I first came to Korea in 2002 to visit my dad for a month in Geoge City. I fell in love with Korea and my dad's work never failed to fascinate me. He took us (my little sister and her mom too) to see the inside of this huge LNG tank he was working on at the time in this huge LNG carrier. I remember dearly how excited he was about that project, showing and explaining to us exactly what he did at the shipyard. He told us once that he would go to his empty office on a Sunday sometimes just so he could advance his work a bit and not have to worry about any kind of competition or headache in the office later. I don't understand exactly how things work at his workplace, but I guess I just took that as an example of determination and hard work.

At his birthday party, May 2009. The cake was a kind present from a Korean friend who owns a company called E-Max, hence the huge word on the cake. :)

"Korea (more specifically Geoge) feels like home to me now", my dad said to me not long ago. He has a special love for Geoge, its green, beaches and coziness. He's also made some really good friends there over the years, including a few Brazilians. He remembers how back in 1998, when he arrived, the Brazilian community living in Geoge was pretty much formed by him and about 5 other people, only - all working in the heavy industries. According to him, it wasn't until 2007 that many groups of Brazilians began to arrive in Geoge to work in projects connected with Petrobras (Brazil's oil company). By this time, the number of Brazilians living in Geoge has probably reached the 200. What I know for sure though is that, right now, there are over 400 Brazilians (including the ones in Geoge) working in the heavy industries across Korea, and more and more keep coming every year.

During this year's World Cup he was interviewed for a FLIK special show on the South Africa World Cup, along with other foreigners living and cheering for their countries in Ulsan. My dad is the only Brazilian on the show and was all excited when he showed me this video on the site. He's probably even more excited now that he's reading all this. :) To watch this cool short show just go ahead and click here.
-- FLIK stands for Foreign Life In Korea and is a kind of lifestyle and leisure department and media network of Hyundai Heavy Industries. Established in 2005 and located on the 3rd floor of the HHI Culture Building, FLIK's service center and staff assist expatriates and their families during their stay in Korea.

To wrap this all up, here's a thought I always like to think and ask my father about, -- if you know about how fast Korea has been changing in the last 60 years -- can you imagine how many changes he actually witnessed in this country in these 12 years? Loads. Some of them are, the way people dress nowadays, mostly the youngsters, is very different from 12 years ago - all these "microskirts" girls wear everywhere were nonexistent back then. Food wise, there were barely any fried chicken places or chain coffee shops back then. Now, you can count at least 5 of each on a single street and growing. Shopping malls, which here are actually department stores (백화점 in Korean), are also way more numerous now and they're always either very big or huge. As a matter of fact, Shinsengae Centumcity Department Store, located in the city of Busan, was officially recognized by Guinness World Records™ as the largest department store in the world just last year. Needless to say, Koreans shop way more nowadays than 12 years ago. My dad always talks about how that scares him every once in a while. However, one of the first changes he noticed was a simple but great one. How people began to make more of an effort to speak to him in English at the grocery store, on the street or anywhere really, as years went by. Even though he already knew some Korean at the time.

Now, I wonder what Korea is going to look like 12 years from now... Something fun to think about, for sure.

Photo album...

Ship naming ceremonies

2003, at DSME:

2008, at SHI:

2010, at HHI: 

 Celso's love for Geoge City

Great friends in Korea

 With his best friend Gilles, from Belgium.

Family guy

With my little sister and her mother while visiting in Brazil early 2009.

Him and I at Eden Valley Resort in Yangsan early this year.

And, one of my favorites :)

At a Korean child's 1-year-old birthday party. Probably taken in 2005. Isn't it awesome?

Oh and here's a short video I made of Hyundai Group's annual spring festival in Ulsan this year. My dad participated in some of the competitions. Check it out (just sorry about my voice, I'd caught a cold):

Cheers and thanks for reading!


Genevieve said...

You Dad is certainly an inspiration! He has achieved so much! And its beautiful reading about him from your point of view. He must be proud to have such a loving daughter. Miss you xx

Celso said...

Obrigado meu Amor!
Thanks sweetheart! I'm proud of you too!!!

Jaimito Neves said...

He has achieved so much!! proud of him...~ and It's amazing how interesting it is for me to visit you very often^^ ㅋ

God Bless you family~

Nexa said...

tudo bem?
li vários artigos do seu blog e achei super interessante!
no caso, estava querendo fazer um intercâmbio para a coréia do sul para estudar a cultura da coréia e moda. Li também o blog do Gustavo, e queria saber por você, como é o tratamento dos coreanos com as mulheres estrangeiras que residem aí.
Desde já, agradeço!

Freedom for all people said...

Wow, thanks for that. What an amazing story.

Mystvan said...

Wow! I am very impressed. He is really awesome.

Agatha Maia said...

After having successfully completed his work at Hyundai Heavy Industries, my father Celso went back to Brazil on June 3rd, 2011 (last month), when he also proudly completed 13 YEARS OF KOREA! Congrats dad! Eu te amo. -Agatha

PS. He said he may be back next year for a-year contract :)