Essential Guide to Korean Work Culture

South Korea has grown in immense popularity within the realms of pop culture and mainstream media, particularly in terms of entertainment. But more than just being a hotbed for the world’s most talented entertainers, Korea has also served as a hub of thriving economic activity. Paired with the allure of living in a cultural haven, the prospect of pursuing full-time careers in Korea has appealed greatly to many people around the world. While you may be interested in upping your roots and moving to Korea to find work, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the many ways that Korean work culture has distinguished itself from the rest of the world.

Getting a Job in Korea

When it comes to the job application process, Korea doesn’t differ much from other countries. Many of the job opportunities that await prospective workers often get posted on dedicated digital portals. Any interested applicants would then send their respective resumes and cover letters to recruiters in the hopes that they would be deemed qualified for the position. After an initial round of application reviews, recruiters will then usher qualified candidates into one or multiple rounds of interviews before they are granted the position. This is a general process that is adopted by many Korean companies.

Korea is home to some of the world’s tech and manufacturing giants with companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Kia. While many top prospects will be gunning for positions within these companies, there are still many other options for workers with varying skill levels and experience.  Of course, it pays to have graduated from a prestigious university and to have performed well in academics and previous work engagements. However, one key aspect of getting accepted for a job in Korea is nailing the formal job interview. This is particularly true for the top blue-chip companies. That’s why familiarizing oneself with Korean culture is very important. Even having simple knowledge of basic Korean business etiquette can go a long way in leaving a good impression during the interview process.

What Language is Mainly Used?

For work culture in Korea, learning how to speak Korean can go a long way in helping you find success in your professional life in the country. That’s because most offices use Korean as their primary language. However, given that many of the top establishments in Korea are multi-national companies, it’s not rare for these offices to use a mix of Korean, English, and other popular languages as well. If you are genuinely interested in working in Korea, then you need to have a respectable TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) in order to prove your ability to communicate effectively.

As you will read about later, traditional Korean work culture was sort of “hierarchical”. In work place, Korean workers may use of honorifics when addressing their superiors or colleagues in polite way. That’s why one’s understanding of language and Korean culture are very important for getting along with colleagues and promoting productivity and synergy in the workplace.

What is the Workplace Environment Like?

As was mentioned earlier, traditional work culture in Korea is bit of hierarchical. Korean are  mindful of the age of the people and express their respect of it. Within the workplace, one’s work experience or position is also heavily taken into consideration when it comes to general conduct or interaction. However, Nowadays, many Korean companies are transforming their working culture into horizontal. As an example, some of major companies’ staffs start to call each other’s name plus “Nim” or call by designating their own English name without any job tile.

Korean workplace culture also places a heavy premium on teamwork and collaboration. Over time, as you prove your worth and value to the company, your personal stock will rise along with the recognition that others will give you.

What are the Working Hours Like?

As a formal practice, Korea adopts a standard 9 AM to 6 PM work schedule for most companies.  It’s not common for companies to have an unwritten rule that workers are expected to work overtime whenever required these days.

Conservative Corporate Work Culture In Korea

Punctuality is also very important in Korea as this is a culture that places heavy premium in valuing one’s time. Often, when a person is late, it is seen as a sign of disrespect for one’s time and the time of others involved. That’s why punctuality is a very big deal in the corporate world. At the very least, you should try to arrive for your appointment right on the dot. But the best practice would be to arrive at least 10 to 15 minutes early in order to allow yourself time to prepare and acclimate yourself to your surroundings.

Korean work culture also places great attention to detail for simple gestures like the giving of gifts or business cards. Typically, business cards are exchanged during initial meetings and are always given with two hands together with a slight bow. When receiving a business card, review the contents of the card before slipping it into your cardholder.

Interested in Having a Business in Korea?

It is possible for foreigners to start businesses in Korea, including even the establishment of corporations. This is all possible as provided by the Foreign Investment Promotion Act which allows foreign nationals to acquire new or existing stocks that fall within the parameters set by the law. It’s also possible for foreigners to establish domestic branches or liaison offices in Korea of already existing businesses under the Foreign Exchange Transaction Act.

Navigating the bureaucracies involved in establishing a business in Korea can be quite complicated. That’s why many industrious individuals approach companies like Premia TNC to help take care of the nitty-gritties. This all-around business consulting company has successfully helped clients navigate their way through challenges involved with incorporation, taxation, accounting, trading, and more.

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