Why Korean companies are forcing their workers to go by English names

Kim Do-hee, an employee of Kakao Friends Shop, uses a smartphone beside its goods in Seoul. (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)

The norm in South Korea is to call your colleagues or superiors not by their given names but by their positions. It’s the same for addressing your older friends or siblings, your teacher or any person on the street. But some companies are looking to eliminate some of this hierarchy. The best way to do that, it seems, is dictating that employees take English names. Using the actual name of your boss or co-workers feels impolite. But, hopefully, calling him or her an English nickname taps into a different cultural mind-set. Rachel Premack, writing in the Washington Post, looks at how such a change affects Korean workers’ attitudes and their very identity.