The first step to success
Learn more about Korea and the Korean Market
Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea is located in Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula. The country territory is surrounded by sea at the east, south and west. At north the country has border with North Korea. South Korea area is 99,720 square kilometre and the population is about 51 million. Out of the total population, 10 million, or roughly 20% of the population, live in Seoul which is a capital of Korea. Other large and financially advanced cities such as Busan (population of 3.5 million), Incheon (2.8 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.5 million), Gwangju (1.5 million) have a higher population density than other cities in Korea.
The Korean ethnic group accounts for approximately 96% of the total population of the Korean Republic. The official language is Korean which is called 'Hangeul'. All Koreans use the same language. It has been a decisive factor in forging strong national identity.
Religion in South Korea is characterized by Buddhism and Christianity. The freedom of religion selection is guaranteed. As of 2015, 29% of South Korean population is declared as Christian, 23% for Buddhists and the rest (46%) with no religious affiliation.
South Korea was originally agricultural nation and started the industrialization from the 1960s. Korea grew rapidly as say "a miracle of the Han River". Rapid growth over the past 3 decades transformed Korea into the world's 13th largest economy.
Today South Korea is a member country of the OECD and one of the G-20 major economies.
GDP per capita(PPP) of South Korea is US$ 39,400 in 2017. The volume of trade in 2017 is 1,034 billion USD (Export: 577.4 billion USD, Import: 457.5 billion USD), ranks 6th in the world. The unemployment rate of Korea is 3.7% in 2017, ranked 43rd in the world.
Main export products are semiconductors, petrochemicals, automobile/auto parts, ships, wireless communication equipment, flat display displays, steel, electronics, plastics, computers and Main import products are crude oil/petroleum products, semiconductors, natural gas, coal, steel, computers, wireless communication equipment, automobiles, fine chemical, textiles. Main export countries are China (25.1%), US (12.2%), Hong Kong (6.9%), Japan (4.7%) - 2017 est. Main import countries are China (20.5%), Japan (11.5%), US (10.5%), Germany (4.2%), Saudi Arabia (4.1%)– 2017 est.
South Korea is a democratic republic whose president is the head of state and whose prime minister is the head of government. It is a multi-party system.
President Moon Jae-in was elected the 19th president of South Korea on May 10, 2017 by direct vote for a single five-year term. Prime minister is Lee Nak-yeon, and Left-wing political party, Democratic Party, is the ruling party now.
Like many democratic states, South Korea has a government divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The executive and legislative branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous, and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels. South Korea is a constitutional democracy
Korea culture was developed on the Confucianism values, therefore it is very hierarchical. Ranking and position are important and should be respected. Because of the hierarchical structure in the companies, written reports are created and hard copy of marketing materials are still very important as part of new business.
Most of Korean companies have vertical structure, so it takes long time to review new project and product or make a decision regarding that.
Koreans do not like to do business with arrogant people and the best way to be respected by them is by showing understanding of their position and point of view.
In addition, "Trust" is important to Korean company to develop business, based on our experience, face-to-face meetings is important in order to build trust and commitment. In the business meeting, Korean prefers to wear a suit (tie isn't a must), and it is very important to exchange business cards. Also most Korean prefers to use the Korean language when performing business, although they are understand English very well. The language barrier is very much connected to the culture and the way parties build trust with each other.