For the third year in a row, Innovation Origins has organised the annual Expat Top-10. Over the past years, Eindhoven has welcomed thousands of internationals, many of whom have done a great job for the city. Through this top-10 we say Thank You to all of them. This year’s theme of the Top-10 is ‘Jobs and Entrepreneurship’. Every day we offer you an interview with one of the winners. In this interview, you can read about how they ended up in Eindhoven, what they are doing in and for the city, and how they get around in their new community. Today: Minsung Wang. Here’s the whole series. 

“The transition from international student to independent expat worker can be quite challenging

In Eindhoven since: 2009
Country of origin: Seoul, South Korea
Do you speak Dutch with the people in your neighbourhood? I can have simple chats with my Dutch neighbours. At the moment I am attending Dutch courses to improve my Dutch; my aim is to be able to do my work in Dutch as well within two years.

Minsung Wang came to Eindhoven in 2009 to study at Design Academy Eindhoven. He graduated from the Man and Leisure department in 2014. After graduating, he started working as an independent designer based in Eindhoven. In 2016 he co-founded design studio “Bron van Doen”, together with Dutch designer and friend Ron Krielen.

Minsung Wang came to Eindhoven with a vague expectation of what Dutch design is. “In retrospect, I was very clueless, also on what it means to be a designer in Europe. It was a tough learning experience because it was so different from what I expected. Now I can call myself a co-designer or a social designer, names I didn’t know they existed when I was in Korea. I didn’t know there was such a thing as social design.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE WITHIN THE EINDHOVEN COMMUNITY?

“Having studied in Eindhoven, and then having started my own design business here as well, I think I have a good understanding about what it means to be a student in the city, and what it takes to transition from being an international student to becoming an independent expat worker. This can be quite challenging, especially for people from outside of the EU. I hope I can help others who are specifically in this situation.”

WHAT, ACCORDING TO YOU, MAKES EINDHOVEN AN ATTRACTIVE PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK IN? WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

“Eindhoven has an extremely dense and diverse creative industry and network, and it is a great city for designers to be based in and work both locally and internationally. Eindhoven already has a robust expat network. That said, I have noticed that the expat community has a weaker connection with international alumni who have graduated from local Dutch schools, and are still living and working in the city. I think there is a lot of potential in strengthening this bond. Being a small city, I love how everything is accessible within cycling distance. The only thing I miss is a more diverse culinary scene.”

TECH COMPANIES IN AND AROUND EINDHOVEN HAVE A HUGE SHORTAGE OF EMPLOYEES. WHAT COULD THEY DO TO ATTRACT MORE TECHNICIANS FROM SOUTH KOREA?

In South Korea, people have a vague fondness towards the Netherlands but do not know enough to pay attention. South Korea is one of the most highly educated countries in the world, and many highly skilled workers in South Korea are going abroad to work, mostly to China and USA. In order to attract highly skilled workers to Eindhoven from South Korea, establishing connections with Korean universities and the Korean government is important.”

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO START YOUR BUSINESS IN EINDHOVEN?

“The Dutch make it very easy to start your own business. However, growing your business is, of course, more challenging. That said, Eindhoven is a very friendly city for international designers. And the Dutch have one of the most robust and diverse creative industries in the world which encourages and supports independent practices. And if you need help, especially in the first couple of years, usually you will be able to find help in Eindhoven.

Photo (c) Israel Nunez-Hernandez