Korean & Profit: The Perks of Entering South Korea’s Growing Market
South Korea has seen impressive economic growth since the 1950s that is comparable to both Japan and China, yet it is often overlooked in foreign business due to its history as a generally closed market controlled by a handful of powerful, national corporations. But as all things must change, South Korea is becoming more open and opportunities to practice trade are increasing. So why should you or your company look into entering South Korea’s growing market?
Amongst some of the economic projects President Lee implemented during his term (2008-2013) in South Korea was the Green Growth initiative: a development plan that aimed at making South Korea a leader in the market for environmentally clean technology by 2050. Foreign entrepreneurs and companies working in this industry can capitalize on this initiative by working within the Korean market to increase awareness of their product or brand. Since the green marketplace is one of the fastest-growing in the 21st century, many foreign upstarts could benefit from South Korea’s ambition. And with the cultural emphasis put on education with a low employment rate for recent graduates, established green companies can find driven and educated recruits right out of school prepped and ready for innovation.
While on the topic of young people fresh out of school, it’s a good thing to point out that the former closed economic climate of South Korea is being challenged by the new ideas of the youths bucking the system. With a number of university graduates remaining unemployed months after graduation, faith in the large corporations that have dominated the Korean market is decreasing. Importance in foreign-language learning in students means the youth culture is experiencing a greater world-view and becoming more prone to adapting to the Western work culture. This open mindset is bleeding into the economic climate making this one of the most open times in their history, a great opportunity for foreign businesses looking to get in on the ground floor.
Social media and the popularization of smartphones have greatly impacted South Korean culture. While Samsung still dominates much of the South Korean market, there is still room for foreign IT companies to take advantage of the country’s advanced telecom, wireless broadband, and cable systems. And with the popularization of the Android and iPhone marketplaces, it is easier now than ever for independent interactive companies and teams to enter the marketplace.
The marketplace in South Korea has been traditionally difficult for foreign businesses to enter. But the emerging openness not only provides an opportunity for foreign businesses to get in on the ground floor of this particular country, but it also serves as a springboard for expanding into other Asian markets. Success in South Korea means becoming more visible in the larger regional markets such as China or even getting insight into other up and coming Asian markets.
Since 2014, free trade between Australia and South Korea has been implemented under the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement or KAFTA. With this pact, Australia will provide South Korea with access to 100% of its market by 2021. This means highly improved trade between the two countries without high tariffs on exported goods. The same relationship between New Zealand and South Korea has existed since 2015 in regard to many products with the exception of some agricultural production.
While the South Korean market is opening, there are still elements of the old school way of thinking lingering. Networking and connections are still highly necessary aspects of growing a business in South Korea and the official business language is Korean, which will probably not change anytime soon. So, if you’re looking to expand into the South Korean market, learning the language is a must. If you’re looking for ways to begin your education or find a class in your area, feel free to explore our Korean courses. If you have a background in Korean, check out our Korean language level test to test out your proficiency in the language.