Trip to Europe
joined Samsung Semiconductors in early Dec. of 1968 and returned to
alone at first while Jane stayed in
for a while. I got a job as a "Director of Quality" responsible
for Quality Assurance or just QA. There were two quality organizations in
Kiheung Plant. One was Quality Control or QC which was responsible for
production line quality control and QA responsible for final products ready
to ship making sure they would not cause any quality problem at customer
sites, assuring our product quality to customers and supporting customers
technically if there was any quality problem. QA also had a function to
qualify newly designed products internally to make judgements whether we
would allow them to start production or not, after intensive reliability
a Saturday afternoon about 10 days after I joined Samsung, while I didn't
know who is who yet, I was suddenly asked to go to Italy and carry them
sample products, as it was urgrnt and I was planned to leave on Sunday to
visit IBM at Poughkeepsie, New York with Plant Manager with round trip air
ticket for New York on hand already. Since it was a Saturday afternoon,
travel agent office was closed. Though I had travelled here and there so
much, it was my first trip to Europe and had no idea which airline was
flying to Milan, where Samsung's one of major customer Itatel was and I was
going to visit. Well. I had already travelled so much. What would it be
differnt for Europe? Let's find the way in U.S.A.
I just left for New York
came to Silicon Valley first on the way to
to visit SSI, Samsung Semiconductors Inc. in Sunnyvale, a subsidaiary of Samsung Semiconductors, where we spent the week end. At
San Francisco airport, I visited several airline counters such as Pan Am,
American, United, Alitalia etc. and collected aireline schedules. Looking at
this schedules, I found Pan Am had a flight from New York to Milan via Paris
which flight I reserved over the phone, called the General Manager of
Samsung Europe in Frankfurt whom I have never met, informed my arrival
schedule to Milan and asked him to meet me at Milan airport.
I was ready to travel to Milan. We went to
, visited IBM and I went to Kennedy
alone. When I went to check-in counter of Pan Am, I found latest issue of
Pan Am schedule and found there was non-stop flight from New York
to arrive about 3 hours earlier at 9:00 AM, while the original flight would
arrive at 12:00 noon.
this flight would be available, why should I go through Paris? I changed
flight to this direct flight and return flight also to Korean
to Seoul. I called Samsung Frankfurt office immediately to inform this flight change
as soon as possible, but the office was closed because it was already a
night there. Well, I figured, since I will be there earlier at Milan
Airport, I may just wait there for 3 hours until Mr. Choi, the General Manager of
the Samsung Europe, to arrive. And I took the plane directly to
at Kennedy Airport.
arrived Milan, the first city of Europe I
had ever visited, on time. It was little after 9:00 AM when I passed through
customs and immigration. I sat in a chair, took a nap for a while to adjust
time difference and it was almost 12:00 noon when I woke up.
it was strange that I could not see any flight from Paris
on arrival bulletin board, not the Pan Am flight I had reserved and
cancelled too. What happened? If flight was delayed, they should show as
delayed. What was wrong? Why? Why? While I was thinking it was strange again
and again, it had well passed noon.
I came to an idea that "Would there be another airport in Milan?" I asked to an officer passing by whether there would be another
airport in Milan. And answer was : This is the northern part of
for flights from other continents and there is another airport called
at the southern part of Milan
which takes about an hour by taxi and handles all European flights. Oh, My
God!! This was the start of my troubles of the first Europe
so, the poor Mr. Choi must be in Linate
now looking for strange face whom he had never seen. I changed money to
Italian Lila, took a taxi and went to Linate
in hurry. It was well passed 1:00 PM already when I arrived there. Pan Am
flight from Paris
had arrived more than an hour ago and all passengers seemed to have passed
immigration already. I looked around the airport from coner to cornet but
could not see any oriental face.
he might have given up and gone somewhere by now. I took a late lunch with a
simple sandwitch and went to public phone. Fortunately, the Kiheung Plant
Manager gave me copies of business cards of several people in Italtel. I
dialed the number of Purchasing Director of Italtel and a lady answered the
there anyone who can speak English?"
was speaking Italian all the way which I had no way to understand even a
word. While I was looking for any one who can speak English, the phone was
cut off. The phone line in Italy
was really terrible at the time. Especially, for long distance call, it was
strange if the call is not cut off while talking.
there anyone who can speak English?"
phone was cut off.
I called the third time, it seemed a lady speaking English was standing by.
She answered "Hello" in English.
was so glad and said
am Mr. Cho from Samsung Korea. I came from Korea
to visit your company with Mr. Choi. Did you have any phone call from Mr.
Choi by any chance?"
Choi just called and said he couldn't find you at the airport."
searched around the whole airport but couldn't see him either. How far is
your company from the airport?"
will take about 2 hours by taxi."
was almost 4:00PM already. I asked whether she knew which hotel had been
reserved for me to stay and she said she made the reservation for me at XXXX
hotel. I was too tired after the long trip already and told her
seems it is too late for the meeting today and I am too tired due to the
long trip. Why don't we reschedule the meeting to tomorrow? I would like to
go to hotel and take some rest."
she said Mr. choi told her he would come to the company though it was very
late. While we are talking whether I should go to to hotel or company, the
line was cut off again.
I was dead tired due to not only the time difference but also spending so
many hours at two airports after long flight. Since I told her I would go to
the hotel any way, I just took a taxi and asked to go to the hotel I was told.
Because it was about two hours of freeway driving, the taxi meter was
ticking so fast and I was anxious as Italian Lila in my pocket was limited
and fares of two long distance taxi ridings were not cheap. Fortunately
though, we arrived to the hotel before my Lila ran out.
I arrived to the hotel and went to the counter, there was another trouble
waiting for me. The girl at counter said she took my reservation expecting a
guest to check out on the day but he didn't. Therefore, the room was not
available for me and she made reservation at another hotel nearby for me. I
was mad but what could I do? It was
United States. I asked her to call a taxi and went to another hotel.
first hotel was realatively new hotel and seemed very clean. But this hotel
might have been build more than 100 years ago perhaps. It had only 20 rooms,
the door was probably more than two tomes of my height, the key was worn out
and could not be locked and there were three beds occupying whole room
leaving very narrow passage only. However, when I opened the door to the
bath room, WOW!. It seemed it was even larger than bed room!! Maybe I could
have a dance party there!! In that large room, at the corner, there was a
bath tub and a toilet only. I traveled a lot, stayed at so many hotels
including very undeveloped countries but I had never seen a hotel like this.
way, time was already after 7:00 PM and I was hungry. To wash the hand, I
turned water on and WOW again. The rusted dark brown water was coming out
continuously. While I was in that hotel, not only bath, I didn't even wash
my hands as it might make my hands even dirtier.
went to the hotel restaurant without washing hands and found I was the only
guest in large restaurant. Soon, formally dressed waiter with tuxedo
gave me a menu sheet. It was a one page menu with about 30-40 lines of food
all written in Italian only which, of course, I had no idea what they are,
except just one word – spaghetti. I pointed the sphagetti and the
waiter seemed to be understood what I wanted.
while later, he brought a large spaghetti in a big dish with few other
was so large, I could finish only the half of it and pushed dish aside. The
waiter came immediately and seemed asking whether I had finished. I said
"Yes" and he took the dish away.
was waiting for bill but the waiter broght another dish with whole roasted
chicken this time. I was surprised, took only a piece of checken meat and
asked to bring bill with hand language. A few minutes later he brought the
bill, I signed it and came out the restaurant.
learned later that this hotel was operated by owner couple only without any
employee. Waiter who served dinner was the owner of the hotel, while his
wife was working at the front desk. And, the menu
I saw was a set menu without any choice, not the various foods I can choose.
also learned later Italians are big eaters eating "Pasta" first
(which the spaghetti was) and then taking main dish of meat or fish. I had
no way to eat all of them in Italy
thereafter too which was quite an experience for me. Because I ate so little
from their standard, I found later that they had charged only the half of
the price and surprised again for their honesty. If you go Italy
for the first time, it is better you know this kind of way of Italian meals
and well prepared in advance.
the dinner, I was really sleepy and fell in deep sleep immediately. I was
not sure what time it was but I was awaked by telephone rings. I looked at
the watch and it was almost to the midnight. I wondered who would be calling
at this time and picked the phone up.
don't understand Italian, Can you speak in Englsh?"
was too sleepy, hung up the phone and tried to go back to sleep. Soon, the phone
started to ring again. I was mad but picked up the phone.
am J. S. Choi of Samsung Frankfurt Branch" the phone answered in
was already after midnight, but I dressed and went down to lobby where Mr.
Choi was waiting for me.
story was – He and one of Samsung salesman in Milan office waited me
at Linate Airport but couldn't find me from the group arrived by Pan Am from
Paris. They searched airport, just as I did, called Italtel and was told
from the secretary of Purchasing Director (the lady I talked) that I was
supposed to be on the way to the company now. (which was her word and I said
I would go to hotel.)
went back to Italtel and waited and waited for me only to find I was not
comping to the office. They went to the first hotel I went and asked whether
Mr. Cho had been checked in. It was trouble after trouble. Unfortunately,
the girl I talked was not there and a different girl was at the counter. She
didn't know I was there and told Mr. Choi that Mr. Cho did not show up yet.
told the girl that they would have a dinner at hotel restaurant and asked to
call them if Mr. Cho would show up. However, Mr. Cho had never showed up and
they came down to the counter again. At that time, the former girl was there
and told them the story that Mr. Cho was sent to another hotel. That was how
they came to my hotel and called me at midnight. In my recollection, I had
never experienced something went wrong this much. In airport too, it seemed
we could not see each other by just a few minutes.
way, my first day in
was one of the worst days in my life perhaps, but it didn't end there.
the next day, we had a meeting with customer which went very well and the
only event went well during the whole trip fortunately, as it was the most
important part of the trip.
I changed return flight to Korea
and Sang-Soo, my nephew, a son of my eldest sister, lived in
Paris, I wanted to see him in Paris
on the way back to Korea. Usually, American citizen didn't require visa to
France, but to make every thing worst, there was a kidnapping incident of airplane
by Islams in
and French government was requesting everyone to get the visa first to enter
regardless the nationality.
way, I had to get visa somewhere. There was no time in
as I went to airport directly from IBM. I went to French consulate next
morning in Milan
and applied transit visa which was the simplest and easiest visa to get.
However, I was told I had to come back on next Sunday to pick up the visa.
Are you kidding? Should I stay in Milan for several days just to see Sang-Soo for a few hours? No thanks. In my
understanding, many countries were giving simple transit visa at the airport
upon arrival and this optimistic guy decided to try it at Paris, as I could have enough time to see
Sang-Soo at the airport at least
before Korean Air Line flight to leave for Seoul at late evening, if I
arrive early enough in the morning.
took the first flight from
arriving at arount 10:00 AM and went to Air France
counter just to ask where the immigration office is. Since it was a simple
one sentence question, I didn't stand in the line and said "Excuse
me" to a lady at counter. But the response of
the lady was "Go aAnd stand on the line" even without a try to
listen to my question. This was the bad habbit on French people with so
strong nationalism and that is why I don't like French. If I said in French,
not in English, she would be much kinder. If you want to be treated as a
human, you better speak in French in France, not in English specially. I knew it but
didn't know it would be this bad.
way, I could find immigration office somehow and asked to give a transit
visa for just few hours to see my nephew within airport but could not
convince the bureaucratic French government officer at all. As the result, I
had to wait 8 hours at Charles De Gaulle Airport, which was the longest
waiting at a airport in my whole life, though I met Sang-Soo anyway across
the steel bar, one in the bonded area and another at the other side.
is story of my first Europe trip, which was nothing but a series of
troubles, one after another, from the start to the last minute, making it
the worst trip in my life. And my work at Samsung had been started with this
terrible trip to Europe, which was also unforgettable forever.