Expanding Your Business to Korea: Effective Market Entry Strategies

doing business in Korea

Are you considering doing business in Korea? Unlocking new opportunities in foreign markets requires careful planning and execution. This article will provide practical strategies to enter the Korean market successfully.

From conducting market research to understanding cultural nuances and exploring market entry options, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover valuable insights on expanding your business to Korea.

Why is Market Research Important? 

Market research is crucial when entering a new market and considering doing business in Korea. It allows businesses to gain valuable insights into competition levels, demand, local laws, taxes, and transportation considerations.

Conducting thorough market research ensures informed decision-making and increases the chances of a successful market entry. Additionally, seeking the expertise of a business advisor adds immense value to the process.

A business advisor with knowledge of the Korean market can also provide valuable guidance, help navigate cultural nuances, understand legal requirements, and offer strategic insights. Their expertise helps businesses make well-informed decisions, minimise risks, and maximise opportunities for growth and success in Korea.

Conducting Target Market Research

Before doing business in Korea, conducting comprehensive market research is crucial. Here are key factors to consider when analysing the Korean market:

  • Competition Levels: Evaluate the level of competition in your industry. Identify gaps in the market or assess your competitive advantage to ensure a successful market entry.
  • Demand: Thoroughly research the demand for your product or service in Korea. Determine if there is a need for your offering and if local consumers will embrace it.
  • Local Laws: Familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation that may impact your business operations in Korea. Understand any packaging or labelling requirements to comply with local regulations.
  • Tax Considerations: Investigate the tax structure in Korea and assess how it might affect your profitability. Lower tax rates can potentially increase your profits.
  • Transport Logistics: Evaluate the ease and cost of transporting your products to Korea. Consider available transportation options and factor in associated costs.

Cultural Considerations and Networking

Understanding Korean culture and networking practices can significantly enhance your business interactions when doing business in Korea. Here are some important cultural aspects to keep in mind:


While English is spoken by some Koreans, having a fluent Korean speaker on your team is highly beneficial. It helps navigate communication barriers with local authorities, banks, and regulatory entities. Hiring English-speaking staff locally is also possible to meet your business needs.

Business Cards

Exchanging business cards holds great significance in Korean business meetings. When receiving a business card, use both hands, read it carefully, and then store it respectfully. Typically, business cards are printed in both English and Korean.


Koreans often greet others with a small bow of the head, indicating respect. Unlike some other Asian countries, the bow in Korea is not a deep, bodily gesture.

Food Culture

Food is central to Korean culture, and meals are essential for networking. Expect discussions about food, as Koreans are passionate about it. Lunchtime in Korea is usually a sociable affair, involving sit-down meals and conversations lasting 1-2 hours. Building personal relationships is often the focus, with business discussions following later.

Bill Payments and Tipping

The most senior person usually pays the bill in group meals, while peers take turns paying among themselves. Splitting the bill is not common. Tipping is not customary in Korean restaurants.

Formality of Address and Hierarchy

Korean business correspondence follows a formal system of addressing individuals based on their profession, status, and grade within a company. Be mindful of these nuances and sincerely adhere to proper etiquette. Koreans also hold great respect for seniority and older individuals.

Subsidiary, Branch, Liaison Office, or Joint Venture?

When expanding and doing business in Korea, you have several options for market entry. Let’s explore these options:

  • Subsidiary: Establishing a subsidiary in Korea is a common choice. This independent Korean company, typically a joint stock company, enjoys the same legal and tax treatment as a local Korean company.
  • Branch: A branch is an extension of the foreign company and can conduct business activities in Korea. However, it operates under the laws of the country where it originated while complying with Korean regulations for its Korean operations.
  • Liaison Office: A liaison office has limited functionality and can primarily engage in non-profit activities like market research and business communications in Korea.
  • Joint Venture: Partnering with a Korean business through a joint venture is another option. This involves establishing a Korean company with both Korean and foreign shareholders.

Expanding your business to Korea requires careful consideration of market research, cultural nuances, and market entry strategies. A knowledgeable business advisor can provide invaluable assistance throughout this process. They possess expertise in local market conditions, cultural practices, legal requirements, and networking dynamics. With their guidance, you can navigate the complexities of doing business in Korea and increase your chances of success.

If you seek professional guidance and expertise, consider searching “business advisors near me” and choosing the most reputable one. Their insights and support can help you make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and maximise opportunities as you expand your business to Korea.


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