The following was extracted from a recent interview with me about how to build a business in a Korean company.
"Let's say I wanted to start a company in Korea. First of all, what's in demand? What industries offer the greatest chance of success?"
"There are a few approaches you can take. A good number of non-Koreans enter the English instruction market. Others set up companies that cater to the needs of the expat community or internationally-minded Koreans.
Focusing on larger businesses, some of the best opportunities come from providing services to Korean firms, and for that, the key is usually to have globally competitive technology. I’ve worked as a consultant to the Province of Gyeonggi, which is the area that surrounds the Seoul metropolitan area, and there are nearly 1,000 foreign-invested companies in this province alone. On closer observation, it turns out that most are involved in supplying technology-related products and services to the large Korean business groups.
Finally, thanks to the rapidly increasing number of free trade agreements that Korea has signed with the US, the EU and other countries and regions, tariffs are falling in a wide range of industries. Koreans import a lot of food from overseas, as well as raw materials and these also represent opportunities for foreign companies wanting to sell in the Korean market.
We did a case study with Tom Brown, former executive at Homeplus, one of the largest retailers in Korea, and completely foreign owned, and it was fascinating to find out what had worked for them and his suggestions to other companies that are breaking into the Korean market."