Doing business in South Korea
Tips for doing business in South Korea from our specialists.
Getting to know each other
When you make an appointment, it’s very important to introduce yourself with your title, surname, and your position in your company. It is also customary to address the person you are talking to in the same way. Status and hierarchy are very important in South Korea and it is appreciated if you show respect for a title. After shaking hands, you exchange business cards, preferably written in English and Korean.
The exchange of gifts is an important element of doing business in South Korea. Make sure that you always have enough gifts with you so that you don’t find yourself empty-handed. A gift that is typically British will always make a good impression. Make sure that the gift is not opened in the presence of the giver. If you do receive a gift, open it later.
Relaxation and entertainment play an important role in negotiations, so always accept invitations for a round of golf or for special Korean celebrations. It will also be greatly appreciated if you organise something yourself to which you can invite your clients or partners. Try to avoid insisting on contracts being signed or promises being made - with Korean business people this will only be counter-productive. Let things happen by themselves and leave the initiative to start, continue, or conclude negotiations with them.
As you might expect, in South Korea, Korean is the language being spoken. In the business world, you will probably be able to get by with English alone, but it will be appreciated if you have certain business documents available in Korean.
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