Business Customs in Korea

Published 17th September 2010
post thumbnail

Gyungbokung Palace in South KoreaThe correct way of speaking to a client or business partner is not the same in every country. Misunderstandings can lead to an unsuccessful business meeting or even the cancellation of a contract.

A simple way to prevent such misunderstandings is to learn about the culture in a particular country. In today´s article Jean Sim, a Korean translator, explains the practices used in business in Korea.

Business begins with the exchanging of business cards.
Bowing to each other is a way of greeting, not hugging.
Touching – for example petting the back and wrapping an arm around a shoulder – is extremely limited during conversation.
We assign meaning to shaking hands. It usually means a potential deal that has been made after a negotiation but it’s not a way of greeting as in Great Britain.
A person’s first name is never used in business.
An ambiguous response can be expected. Whether Koreans like or don’t like something, they express themselves in the same way. Being straightforward is considered to be obnoxious.
Be careful not to unintentionally gesture by putting your thumb between your index finger and your middle finger; this means the same as showing your middle finger in Great Britain.
Expect a late response and a late arrival for an appointment. Do not make an appointment at a 15 or 30 minute unit, instead go by the hour – for example, not 12:15 or 1:30, but 12:00 or 1:00.
Wear formal suits with a tie, a belt and office shoes. Casual wear (even just a shirt and no belt) are not allowed. Appearance should be perfectly neat. No worn-out clothes and shoes; belts with stains aren’t acceptable.
Always cut your nails.
Expect meetings and entertainment with lots of drinking and golfing involved.
Do not blow your nose, fart (including the silent one, limit it as much as possible if you can) or burp in public. When yawning, always cover your mouth.
Showing food inside your mouth whilst talking or eating during a meal is ok. Always suggest sharing anything you eat. If you do not, it’s considered to be selfish.
If anything can be done for the other party, offer your service. Only doing things for yourself is considered to be selfish.
Do not mention specific times. For example, as part of a complaint, something that should take 15 minutes took 45 minutes. Nobody times a task.
Do not put your foot on the desk or sit on the desk; this is considered to be rude. Do not cross your legs. This is appears obnoxious.

Jean Sim

Thank you for the helpful insider´s tips.

disney-institute-lingua-translations 178 × 75
amazon-lingua-translations 120 × 28
procter-gamble - Lingua Translations 114 × 92
london-partners-lingua-translations 154 × 101
Swansea City | Lingua Translations 154 x 146
Man City | Lingua Translations 154 × 154
FC_Barcelona_(crest) 154 × 156
Star_Wars_Logo.svg_-1 1280 × 773
FiFA | lingua Translations 154 × 86
The-Score 232x120
M & S 271 × 186
Walmart-Lingua Translations 232 × 65
Welsh Government & Lingua Translations 400 × 400
Costco & Lingua Translations 232 × 155


TUI-Group Testimonial 205 × 46 EN

Ian Chapman – Director of Holiday Experience –

“Lingua Translations provides instant multi-lingual options for TUI’s 24/7 Holidayline, so 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year TUI’s customers are connected to an interpreter instantaneously. This service is designed to help holidaymakers who find themselves in difficulty and require non-English language assistance.

The service offered by Lingua Translations provides us with instant translation for every destination we travel to, and has proved invaluable.”

Do you know how many different languages Ed Sheeran has sung in?

It’s no secret that Ed Sheeran wrote his latest album while traveling the world and soaking up different cultures and styles of music. But he went further than that. He also isn’t afraid to delve into the world of languages either. What’s most impressive is his commitment to getting the foreign lyrics and their pronunciation …

Read More

International French Fries Day

Today is one of the best day of the year: the international French Fries Day. But let’s find out something about most people’s favourite guilty pleasure. Apparently, French fries are not French at all. Their origin can be tracked back to Belgium, where potatoes were allegedly being fried in the late-1600s. The legend says that …

Read More
Get a quote today