Business in South-Korea: The first steps

Introduction

With the global market shifting more to Asian countries and with South-Korea having one of the top economies in the world, expanding your business to South Korea can sound very favourable. But are Koreans going to buy your products, and where do you even begin when you're wanting to expand?  You will read the answers to those questions in this blog.

South Korea and the market

In 1948 Korea got divided into two separate countries: North Korea and South Korea. Over the years, South Korea became one of the most hyper capitalistic countries in the world, whereas North Korea became a communistic country. Koreans speak Korean and have their own Alphabet called Hangul. The Chinese belief system Confucianism, which focuses on the importance of personal ethics and morality, is also very present in Korea. With having one of the best economies in the world, the average Korean has enough capital to buy more expensive and luxurious items. This is great news for western brands who would like to expand their business to South Korea. Even though Koreans are not familiar with western brands, they are open to learn about them and even look up to western brands. The Korean market moves fast. Trends seem to go away faster than in western countries. Keep that in mind if you are planning to expand your company to South Korea. According to doingbusiness.org, South Korea is the fifth easiest country in the world to start a business.

Recommendations 

To enrol your business into the South Korean market, there are few things recommended doing before expanding to South Korea.

- Find Korean sales agents

A Korean intermediary is often indispensable. Hence, why it is advised setting up an appointment with the enterprise agency of your country. The NEA provides free of charge consultations to Dutch businesses that want to expand to countries such as  South-Korea. Together with the NEA and their huge databank of business partners, you can find potential sales agents in South-Korea. 

An alternative way to finding sales agents is by attending trade fairs. On these fairs you can meet different agents and agencies who could help you with selling in South Korea. The following website provides dates of these kinds of fairs are :

Many South-Korean agents are also registered at the Korea Importer Association (KOIMA).  Finding agents through KOIMA helps to filter out agents who are not qualified in selling your products.

- Follow the Korean regulations

South-Korea has various rules and regulations when it comes to importing goods from different parts of the world. To make sure your products are fitting the rules and regulations, we recommend the acces2market website. On this website you can find all the regulations and rules for every product.

- Make sure your e-commerce is top-notch

South-Koreans do a lot of research online before buying a certain product. South Korea also has one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world. Having a website with detailed information about the products, makes South Koreans more inclined to buy the products. South Koreans also use different social media platforms than people use in western countries. Naver Band and kakao are the most used social media platforms in South Korea.

- After sales services

South Koreans also validate after sales service a lot. Hiring an after sales assistant, whose job it is to keep in touch with existing customers, could bring in new customers through these already existing customers (word-of-mouth advertisement).

 

Useful links

​​https://trade.ec.europa.eu/ 

https://www.rvo.nl/ 

https://www.koima.or.kr/ 

https://www.koreatradecenter.nl/ 

https://10times.com/korea 

http://tofairs.com/fairs2.php?cnt=1059&cty=&page= 

https://eventegg.com/south-korea 

https://www.tradefairdates.com/Fairs-South-Korea-Z120-S1.html 

https://www.koisra.co.kr/

https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/business-enabling-environment

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