By Yuna Kim
Northwest Asian Weekly
Changbal has two meanings in Korean: an abbreviation of “creativity and invention” and a literal translation of “emergence.” In Seattle, Changbal Society is a nonprofit organization, established in 2014 for Korean information technology professionals, looking to enact all three values through support and networking.
“Koreans do not have many opportunities to network outside of the companies they are working for. I thought it would be good for like-minded people with similar interests from similar backgrounds to gather and help each other,” said Chanhee Lee, the president of Changbal Society and a senior product manager at Amazon.
Changbal Society will hold a networking workshop on Dec. 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Kane Hall 225 on the University of Washington (UW) Seattle campus.
The event will bring together professionals and students for mock interviews, to meet mentors for career advice one-on-one, and to get feedback on resumes.
Changbal Society held an information session on Nov. 3 at Kane Hall in conjunction with the UW Korean Student Union to inform the students about the benefits of pursuing IT-related majors. Students also learned how to plan for internships, graduation and employment, what to prepare for while in college, which IT careers have been recently spotlighted, and more.
The president and the members of Changbal Society and the consul general of the Republic of Korea attended the event, along with more than 30 undergraduate and graduate students.
“It was a good opportunity to learn directly from professionals about what is happening currently in the industry and what different roles each career plays specifically in the field,” said Jay Jung, a UW undergraduate student majoring in mathematics and minoring in informatics and statistics.
Jenny Lee, a member of the society and a program manager at Microsoft who graduated from the UW in June with a bachelor’s degree in informatics, was a guest speaker. She told attendees to start networking with professionals and to complete a side project to enhance their portfolios.
“Be enthusiastic about networking. People do not try to find people in need and reach out to them first. Actively seek mentors who can really give the practical advice,” said Jaehee Song, a member of the society.
Song published a book this summer called “This Is How We Came,” about 25 people who came to the United States from South Korea after getting hired by IT companies. He said he was able to find several authors through Changbal Society.
The consulate general of the Republic of Korea purchased books and provided them to attendees for free.
Changbal Society was established by Jinyoung Kim, who was then a data scientist at Microsoft and now works at Snapchat. Kim wanted to share his interests with people from different companies.
The society started with around 10 of Kim’s acquaintances and as IT started booming in the Seattle area, the number of Koreans in IT fields here increased.
Changbal Society is divided into four groups: developers, Kickstarters, women, and designers. The society holds a monthly seminar for the entire group and each group has casual, individual meetings so members have opportunities to discuss topics of specific interest in depth.
To attend the next workshop, RSVP at
Yuna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.