As one of the most dynamic and progressive business hubs in Asia, South Korea is ripe with opportunities for international business and development. But doing business in South Korea can be quite different from how it’s done in many Western countries. And while it may have similarities to other Asian countries, South Korea has its own intricacies and nuances that make doing business there very unique. If you’re about to go to South Korea for a business trip, keep these helpful tips in mind as you prepare for it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
Planning a business trip to South Korea can be intimidating and tiresome, especially if you come from a Western country and are doing it for the first time. Aside from the ever-present language barrier, there are also several cultural differences that can make planning a business trip there a very tedious affair. To make it easier, don’t be afraid to get help from companies that specialize in planning business trips to foreign countries. On the same note, hire a translator when you’re there if you really need it. It is better to get assistance from experts and specialists than compromise your trip with second-guessing and communication that could get lost in translation.
Interpersonal Relationships Are Key
The key to successful business in South Korea is focusing on building and maintaining interpersonal relationships with your partners. Interpersonal relationships are highly valued in South Korea, and they often take precedence over any other formal business proceeding or initiative. As such, your primary focus should be fostering a good relationship with your business partners there, especially if it’s your first time doing business with them.
The Importance of Business Cards
Despite today’s digital age, business cards are still widely used and generally preferred in South Korea. South Koreans consider the giving and receiving of business cards very important, so you should treat this activity as an essential part of doing business there. For example, upon receiving a business card, you should avoid putting it into your pocket and instead place it in front of you on the table (if possible). You should also receive business cards with both hands as a sign of respect.
Know and Adapt to Local Culture
Like doing business in any other country, success in South Korea requires you to understand the local culture and adapt to their values and ways of doing things. Modesty and humility are essential to South Korean culture and it would be best for you to display these values throughout all your business activities there. Teamwork and the group dynamic are also an integral part of their culture that permeates into how they conduct business. The more you adapt to the intricacies of their culture, the better off you’ll be in conducting business with them.
Doing business in South Korea can be a daunting task for first-time travellers and foreign businesspeople. But, with some good research and preparation beforehand, it can turn out to be much easier than most people think.