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March 2009

What's the "Korea Discount"?

According to an article in the Korean edition of the Jungang Ilbo today, a recent survey of national brands put the value of Korea's "brand" at 33rd, coming in behind India, China and 30 other countries. The Korean government believes this translates into a 30% discount on Korean products sold overseas, meaning that Korean companies selling the same items can only command 70% of the price that products sold by companies of "non-discounted" countries earn.

According to President Lee Myeong-bak, even as Korea becomes richer and achieves its goals of per-capital GDP of $30K and $40, the country must find ways to become more respected, too, and that this is more than just promoting Korean foods, styles and martial arts overseas. In fact, the viewpoint meshes closely with the government's efforts to develop Korea as a major player in the Asian business scene, which, as a precondition, requires that more foreigners want to live and work in Korea.

The government has set a goal of achieving a "brand value" for Korea at the ranking of 15, moving up 18 places, within five years through a number of formal initiatives, including the following:

  1. Sharing the lessons of Korea's economic development with other developing countries
  2. Expanding the exchange of foreign students
  3. Building a stronger network among ethnic Koreans living overseas
  4. Developing a stronger global awareness among citizens
  5. Promoting the Korean "brand" internationally

The government's slogan for this is "Gyeom-Dda-Mah-Dah", each syllable of which is the first syllable in the key words of a Korean phrase ("겸손하고 따뜻한 마음으로 다가가기") that translate to "Getting Closer with a Modest and Warm Heart". (It sounds better in Korean.)


Foreigners in the Land of the Morning Calm

I've lived in Korea off and on for more than fifteen years now and while it's hard to say that Korea feels completely "like home", it is certainly "home away from home" and a place I enjoy. I understand though that not every expat feels this way and that many have not made the transition to the Korean way of life.

While some aspects of overcoming "culture shock" can only be resolved by the foreigner who has come to live in Korea, the national government, as well as the city of Seoul, are working hard to create an improved environment for expatriates and their families. This is based on the realization that Korea will become a leading international player only when the country has become a pleasant place for foreigners to live and visit. Some of the aspects of this, which I will discuss in future posts, include the following:

  • Construction of Songdo New City and the Free Economic Zone
  • Revamping of various laws and regulations regarding the lives of foreigners in Korea
  • Creating of various pockets of foreigner-friendly services and communities within the Seoul area

A Few Quick Tips for Business in Korea

The following snippet is now part of the ebook Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

Purchase and download on Amazon.

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

From the extra reading in Chapter 3 of Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!

"In Korea, business is a very personal endeavor and it will take time to build up a personal relationship with your business partners and colleagues. Hence, assigning the right person to work for or represent your business in Korea will be critical to its success while assigning the wrong person could be disastrous for it. Nevertheless, assigning the right person to Korea does not necessarily mean they will avoid all of the cultural pitfalls of doing business there."

Get the rest of this article in Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!