Korean Business Culture









Useful Korean Expressions

Cultural Savvy Training - Working Effectively with Koreans

South Korea's economy is a highly developed and is the fourth largest in
Asia and 12th largest in the world.

In less than fifty years, South Korea went from a devastated country after the
Korean War to one of the wealthiest
and successful economies in the world. 


South Korea is one of the world's leading exporters and relies heavily on experts. South Korea boasts some of the world's leading companies such as Hyundai, LG, SK, and Samsung.

South Korea boast an extremely competitive education system and a highly skilled and motivated workforce. Research states that South Korea's achievements are in two key areas: science and mathematics . The country also has the highest broadband internet access per capita and is considered the most wired country in the world. In addition, South Korea's IT Industry is positioned in the top five in the world. 

Often referred to as '"hallyu" or the Korean wave, Korean "Pop Culture", or "K-Pop" has taken the world by storm.

* Music ( BTS, EXO, T-ara)
* Drama (Squid Game)
* Movies (Parasite)
* Electronics (Samsung, LG)
* Cuisine (kimchi, Korean BBQ)
* New words added to Oxford Dictionary (banchan, bulgogi, kimbap, manhwa)

A key principle of South Korean business culture is Inhwa, which is defined as harmony. As a collectivist society, consensus is an important element in promoting and maintaining harmony in South Korea. Inhwa was drawn from Confucian beliefs, and stresses harmony between people, especially unequals. Usually Koreans like to give positive answers and avoid or reluctant to give direct refusals. Koreans, perhaps, place greater importance on the concept of face (che-myon) than other Asians.

Usually, it takes longer for South Koreans to make a final decision, because all of the members need to consider others’ opinions and values. The decision is based on the careful consideration of the interests of the whole team, and at the same time, maintaining the stable Kibun environment. 

Therefore, when negotiating with South Koreans, Americans or other Westerners should be aware of this culture, and be patient during the negotiation process, or be prepared that the negotiation process may take more than one meetings to complete the deals. They should also appreciate the collectivism, and think in terms of the good of the whole team, to successfully negotiate business with Koreans. 

Starfield Center Seoul, Korea


원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다
Wonsungido namueso torochinda
= Even monkeys fall from trees (Even the most talented/great can make mistakes) 

시작이 반이다
Shi-jaki bani-da = Starting is half the task.
(A good start is very important)

Customized Korean Workshops & Briefings

“Working Successfully with Koreans” is a workshop for managers who do business directly or indirectly with Korean customers, suppliers and subsidiary personnel. Businesspeople who travel extensively to Korea, host Koreans in the U.S. or work with Koreans on global teams should not launch business in Korea without attend this workshop.

This workshop is aimed at familiarizing participants with key Korean cultural values, communication styles and business practices in order to build successful client relationships. By understanding the fundamentals of Korean business and cultural values, managers will be able to strategize and implement effective approaches to establishing business relationships, selling, marketing, negotiating and communicating effectively with Korean counterparts.


Kibun  Mood or Feelings
Chongyong  Proper Respect
Inhwa  Harmony
Kongson  Politeness
Nunch’i Reading the Eyes
Dong chong saeny Network
Jeong  Personal Trust
Haan  Holding a Grudge
Che-myon Saving Face
Ab-dui Public Face
Palja  Fatalism
Koenchanayo  Effort


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