How could he make a computer program while majoring in Urban Administration?
Using his own words, he stated that he was easily swayed by what other people said ever since his birth. He changed his original major, Architecture, to Urban Administration because there was a tendency to look at an engineer as blue-collar worker. However, he didn`t find a big interest in his new major but the one related to computer and mechanical engineering. This made him take classes and gather information in this new field.
As the citizen of Republic of Korea, he had the duty to go to the army. However, he used this time wisely by attending the “Military Service Exception,” and working for a mobile banking company. He was able to get real experience in his firm and met lots of people working in both the mobile and bank fields.
These two are major reasons how Min-seok became a well-talented programmer in developing a mobile application. This is because he attained enormous knowledge from his classes as well as from his job experience.
During the midterm exam period, Min-seok missed his subway station due to the lack of sleep. So that`s why he dreamed about the Subway Alert program that wakes him up when it is time to get out from the subway. Since he thought about a great idea, the only thing left for him was to implement it as a real application.
There have been lots of companies that have tried to make a program similar to his, the Subway Alert. However, the other programers faced big obstacles which discouraged them from developing this plan. To make a program with a computer, you need to think about an algorithm so that CPU can follow it. So when the other companies tried to build an algorithm, they depended on only one aspect of the information, the base station signal. However, since some of the subway stations share the same station signals and because there were frequent signal changes, there were so many errors. To reduce these errors, they had to make each station to have unique signals so that it could be easily identified. However, this work costs an astronomical amount of money and the effort doesn`t guarantee perfect anticipation for arrival time. The more they developed the program, the more they found it harder to grasp. This is why other companies quitted working on the concept of the Subway Alert.
On the other hand, by looking at this situation with a different perspective, he could find a rather `inexpensive` way to make an algorithm. He included not only the station signal but also two more forms of information to fully predict the exact arrival time. Even though some stations shared the same station signals, the system can look for other information to confirm which station the user is located. With simple change of perspective, he overcame the obstacles which caused many other companies to give up.
There are three major telecommunication companies in South Korea; SKT, KT, and LGT. Mr. Lee submitted his masterpiece to SK Telecom which was preparing for the app store. App store is an online store that sells applications such as game or informative programs. (This market became famous thanks to Apple`s app store; which sells tailored applications to iPhone users). However, unlike applications in Apple, the one in Korea needed extra work to be fully developed. This was because there is only one available cell phone model in Apple`s app store; the iPhone.
However in Korea, developers have to make different versions for every cell phone within the same telecommunications company. When there is new cell phone introduced into the marker the seller has to make a program designed for it. This can be a very heavy burden to program developers. During the time when he was making the Subway Alert, he was carrying five cell phones in his hand to check as well as to ensure whether the program was working in the various cell phones. He felt embarrassed when people in the subway looked at him as a weirdo. His effort and knowledge have enabled the Subway Alert to function properly in more than one hundred cell phones.
Connecting the Dots
`Connecting the dots,` is a famous sentence from Steven Jobs` speech at the Stanford University in 2005. To make the long address short, what you are doing right now has a connection with something you are going to do in the future. This is what Min-seok told me when I asked him about his circle. He was in a circle which was doing an acting job based on the sitcom `Friends.` More than five hundred people were involved in this circle so he knew lots of people.
Additionally, he knew people working in mobile and banking businesses thanks to his military service exception. In the past, he couldn`t see that his relationships would be connected with his future work. Since there were lots of people in his club, whoever he met was slightly bonded with him and he could get help from acquaintances. He could understand why Steven Jobs was stressing it as pivotal matter.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing Min-seok. He was very informative and fun. He seems to have a hard working personality as well as a play hard one. I`ll look forward to hearing good news from Min-seok in the future. So regardless of life`s obstacles, don`t forget that sometimes `Where there is a will, there is a way!`