One word for one world
One word for one world

Doing business in South Korea

Korean flag

Tips for doing business in South Korea from our specialists.

Doing business abroad is either an exciting or fraught undertaking for a company, depending on how you look at it. As well as regulations, practical considerations such as transport, language, and culture can also present obstacles. If you are planning to do business abroad, it is advisable to find out as much as possible beforehand about the country in which you want to do it. Our specialists have set out a number of tips in this article about doing business in South Korea which will help point you in the right direction.

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.

The language

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.

Simon Bombey
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