For South Korea's Top Students, Chaebol Are the Place to Be

Graduates from Korea’s top schools don’t spurn the chaebol anymore

The chaebol—South Korea’s leading conglomerates—have dominated its economy for decades, but for most of that time they didn’t get to hire much from Korea’s top universities. Graduates of these schools weren’t interested in a career in manufacturing. They opted for the civil service, banks, the law, and foreign consulting firms. With the exception of Samsung Electronics, the chaebol had to recruit from less prestigious schools. That’s changing. While only 13 percent of business grads from Seoul National University (SNU)—often called Korea’s Harvard—went to work at a chaebol in 2009, 25 percent of the class of 2011 said they opted for a job at one. The remaining 75 percent pursued careers in law and civil service.

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