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April 13, 2010 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Help find Korea and Japan-based companies in Seattle, WA to help with my job search.

I will be graduating and heading back to the US in late May and I am trying to get a head start on my job search.

My current plan is to cold call all the Korea or Japan based companies in the Seattle area and try to get some leads that way. (I majored in Japanese and Korean language and lit, and have spent the past year living, studying, and working in Korea).

I so far haven't had much luck finding lists that might include smaller less high profile companies.

Thank you!
posted by kinakomochi to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I remembered reading about a lively Korean newspaper community in Seattle, googled it and found this:
Perhaps contact the papers and see where that leads?
Good luck.
posted by dbmcd at 4:20 PM on April 13, 2010

You might want to check with the Japan Business Association of Seattle.
posted by donovan at 5:04 PM on April 13, 2010

Best answer: The Japan Business Association of Seattle website appears to be down, but the site is cached.

Speaking from experience, it will be tough for you to get a job at a Korean or Japanese company in Seattle (see below), but you never know. The jobs for someone of your skillset are just not there. It might be easier to try to find a job with a company in Korea or Japan.

I would try contacting KOTRA to get some leads. If you contact the Seattle office, use Korean - they will be impressed and it might help.

For Japanese companies in Seattle, try JETRO. They may not be as helpful as KOTRA, because cold-call networking is not something that Japanese people do.

Research companies at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and its Korean counterpart. Try cold calling. The American Chamber is incredibly valuable. I'm not American, but when I'm in Tokyo I try to attend their events.

Seattle's Korean sister city is Daejeon. Contact Seattle's intergovernmental relations office and see if you can make some connections.


I think you need to figure out (in order) what you want to do, what kind of company you want to work for, and where you want to work.

As far as I know, the only meaningful Japanese business presence in Seattle would be the work Fuji Heavy and Mitsubishi have been doing with Boeing on the 787 Dreamliner project.

The project has not gone well and I'm not even sure if Mitsubishi is still involved.

As well, Japan and Korea interface with the US in just a few strategic locations, and Seattle is not one of them. I would say that the only real connection in Seattle is container shipping and logistics. I don't know how you could work with one of those companies.

For example, Sumitomo USA has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington, DC, among other locations, and Seattle is not one of the other locations.

Sumitomo is one of the big "trading houses". These trading houses typically purchase raw materials, including food, coal, canola, potash, etc., from the United States, to sell back to Japan or Korea. They will have a presence wherever there is a large bulk terminal. For example, Sumitomo is located in Vancouver, the largest bulk terminal on the west coast of America.

These trading houses are also engaged in technology transfer, or purchasing services. So, while Vancouver is where Sumitomo headquarters its bulk operations, all of the value-added stuff, like purchasing software services, television content, legal services, etc.... All that business is done in Toronto.

In the United States, the service/cultural/technology/financial services business is done in New York.

Chicago is the interface for the automotive industry, and logistics (shipping product, trains).

Itochu is another large trading house. It has a couple of subsidiary organizations in the Pacific Northwest (see the map), and these companies are typically purchasing pulp and paper products, and lumber.

Samsung appears to be located in New Jersey.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:46 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow thank you everyone for the helpful replies!

KokuRyu - it seems that I have a lot of calling to do now thanks to you! I realize that the opportunities are greater in Korea or Japan, but I'm drawn back to the US temporarily for family. Thank you very much for such a helpful reply.

Time to pick up the phone...
posted by kinakomochi at 3:13 AM on April 14, 2010

I was going to add that the Japanese or Korean business associations in the Seattle area are primarily networks of professionals providing services to Japanese or Korean expats and immigrants, such as lawyers, realtors, financial advisors, and insurance brokers. They're leveraging their local knowledge and English skills to provide services to people who need help, so once again I'm not sure how you would fit in. An interesting job market might be small-scale import/export companies - companies importing specialty Japanese foods, for example.

I'm not so familiar with Korean group dynamics, but these sorts of Japanese community groups can be quite political, and there can be a fair amount of shysters operating in the community, so it may be difficult to do valuable networking with a Seattle-based business group. Speaking once again from experience, there is not a high volume of trade between Seattle and Japan or Seattle and Korea, so everyoe is hustling to get a piece of the pie themselves.

I do know that Korean expat/immigrant communities are likely to be centered around a church, which is where connections are made and networking gets done. So you could try finding a congregation that appeals to you and make connections that way.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:04 PM on April 14, 2010

KokuRyu forgot one major Japanese company with a presence in the Seattle area: Nintendo.

Anyway, I suggest checking out the classified ads in newspapers aimed at the Japanese or Korean communities in Seattle, if you don't mind ANY kind of job. These types of newspapers often have ads for bilingual office jobs.

You might also want to contact Korean companies in Korea to see if they are hiring for their U.S. offices.
posted by needled at 7:54 AM on April 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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