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The Shortage of Web3 Developers in Korea 2

EP 2

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Following up on our previous discussion, I want to delve into why developers in the Korean blockchain scene are leaving the market. From what I've observed, there are two main points of disillusionment among developers, and I'd like to focus on the second reason.

  1. They wanted to solve problems, but it's unclear what issues Web3 is actually tackling.

  2. Web3 promises rapid salary growth and promotions for juniors. However, junior developers often hit a ceiling in terms of systematic growth within Web3 companies.

1. Blockchain's Lack of Presence in Universities

It seems that professors who research blockchain topics in Korea can be counted on one hand. Abroad, there are labs in various fields applicable to blockchain, such as distributed data storage technology, P2P networks, and cryptography, led by renowned figures who inspire computer science students.

For instance, I had the opportunity to ask a friend from the U.S. who founded a blockchain society at Berkeley what sparked his interest in blockchain studies. He mentioned that back in 2016, it was almost a rule that computer science majors at Berkeley would delve into either AI or Blockchain. (He chose blockchain.)

The atmosphere in Korean computer science departments is quite different. Not to say it's worse, but there seems to be a stronger inclination towards pragmatism in Korea. Like other countries, but perhaps more so, universities are often viewed merely as stepping stones to employment. For example, while neighboring Japan actively researches basic sciences like physics and chemistry to the extent of producing Nobel laureates, Korea falls short in this aspect. Additionally, the overwhelming preference for medical school among the brightest science students in Korea is noteworthy, funneling potential talents away from fields like blockchain.

2. The Challenge of Web3 Developer Networks

Next, there's a notable shortage of blockchain developer mentors or 'big brothers' in the field. These mentors could be professors, senior developers, or even seasoned entrepreneurs. I've already touched on the academic reasons earlier, and I won't mention the leading foreign professors who are advancing the mainnet. It's hard to point out specific senior developers since my knowledge here is more anecdotal. However, it seems appropriate to talk about a senior figure in the developer community, Fede from Lambda Class.

Lambda Class collaborates with various blockchain teams to support infrastructure development. They've made significant contributions to Starknet and are currently working with Zksync, among others. What's remarkable about Fede, the founder, is not just that he runs a development company. He operates it as if it's a community support hub for developers across Argentina and Europe, similar to a company. By communicating with developers across LATAM and Europe and sponsoring those who contribute to open source, even if they're not employees, Fede creates an environment where passionate developers can gather, share, and learn from each other. If any developer within wishes to start their own venture, Fede offers active feedback, becomes an initial investor, and provides multifaceted support. Honestly, it's incredibly admirable and inspiring.

Blockchain is a field with high barriers to entry, yet once inside, it offers unique opportunities for rapid growth. Everyone is eager to expand the market pie, and high-quality information is freely available. However, for newcomers, it's daunting to figure out whom to follow and where to find resources. This is where many of us might stumble upon resources from Decipher. Personally, I believe that Korea's blockchain scene is largely driven by researchers who have emerged from the early days of Decipher, though this is purely my personal view.

*While traders play a significant role, I'll exclude them from this discussion as one wouldn't consider a shopaholic a fashion industry professional.

In writing this, I explored the origins of blockchain in Korea, focusing on Nonsense and Decipher, particularly the evolution of Decipher's recruitment posts. Initially, there was a blockchain concept exam for the first cohort, but from the second cohort onwards, the exam was dropped in favor of a broader mission to research blockchain, welcoming non-developers as well. The outcomes of these studies were published as research, which many Korean blockchain builders regard as foundational, irrespective of their major, thus aspiring many to become researchers.

Korea now boasts globally recognized research firms (FOUR PILLARS!) and numerous renowned researchers. For instance, Crypto Quant, Ki Young Ju, started his business with on-chain data research. While Korea's researchers are gaining prominence, recalling notable developers takes more effort. Just as researchers mentor upcoming talents, I hope more developer mentors emerge in Korea to guide and support developers' growth.

4. Korea's Gamers: A Double-Edged Sword for Developers

I genuinely believe Koreans are intelligent, yet the global obscurity of Korean developers and their perceived growth cap might stem from the 'language barrier'. So, why do Korean developers feel this barrier more acutely despite working in English like their international counterparts?

My main culprit: 'Gaming'. Anecdotally, friends who chose development paths often engaged heavily in gaming during their youth. Korea, known for its gaming culture, provides a rich and challenging experience on local servers alone, negating the need to venture into English-speaking realms.

Conversely, in my interactions with a Brazilian cybersecurity expert, two Portuguese developers, and a developer from Luxembourg who transitioned to BD, all credited 'gaming' as their English learning platform. This was astonishing. While European languages share closer similarities with English, making learning somewhat easier, the natural English acquisition through gaming seemingly empowers international developers to effortlessly 'mingle' in the global market. (Take it with a grain of salt).

This lengthy post, based solely on my intuition and experiences, doesn't boast of high credibility. If you found it intriguing, then it has served its purpose.

You can check my original tweet here

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