People are going to bump into you on the subway; stupidly dressed salespeople will force fliers into your hands on the street; and scooters will nearly knock you over as they tear down the sidewalk.
Find a quiet place at work, or where you live, and take some time to center yourself when it all feels a bit much. Oh, and keep your eyes open for those scooters: Dear Korea , by Jen Lee. Korean and English are very different languages: This makes English a very difficult language for Koreans to learn and Korean only slightly less hard for English speakers so, despite the long, long hours that most Korean kids and adults will spend studying English, and despite the millions of dollars the government has spent bringing native English teachers over to Korea, very few Koreans actually speak English with any degree of fluency.
Learn some Korean, or at least the alphabet, Hangeul. They lived through a massively popular dictatorship and accompanying industrial expansion to the relative wealth and ease of recent years.
In short, it has changed too quickly and is now caught between a rapidly liberalizing youth and a staunchly conservative older generation. The Korean people have a history going back millennia. Whether visiting South Korea on business, for tourism or even hosting Korean colleagues or clients in your own country, this guide will help you understand your South Korean counterparts, improve communication and get the relationship off to the right start.
How do we know all this information? Well, we are experts in cultural awareness training courses on Korean culture! Koreans share one language, with approximately seventy million people around the globe speaking Korean.
The language structure, grammar and vocabulary are similar to Japanese. Dialects are regional; differing mainly in accent, but are so similar that comprehension for speakers, or listeners, is not an issue. Key difference in dialect are also attributed to social status. Korea has one of the highest literacy rates in the world due to the phonetic nature of the written language which was invented in the mid-fifteenth century to give one language to Koreans.
Remember this is only a very basic level introduction to Korean culture and the people; it can not account for the diversity within South Korean society and is not meant in any way to stereotype all Korean people you may meet! South Korea blends business with spirituality seemlessly ]. If you are considering doing business in South Korea, or with a South Korean, it is essential to understand their culture and business etiquette to maximise your potential and avoid any unnecessary awkwardness.
Korean culture is profoundly influenced by Confucian principles and this pervades not only personal lives, but also business. Confucianism supports group harmony, respect for elders and authority, the importance of family, friendship and ancestors, and also, tradition. Kibun equivalent to face, or honour is highly significant to Koreans and they will always attempt to maintain their Kibun, or personal dignity.
Confrontation is to be avoided at all cost as once Kibun is lost it cannot be regained.
In South Korea, good relationships are crucial to success both in personal and business circles, and these are assimilated within the business world. To make the most of your business acumen you must also appear trustworthy, honourable and respectable in a social and business setting.
Your choices on where to live, play, and make friends. There are many reasons why expatriates fail in their international assignments. It is their families. In all, the researcher aimed for a minute interview and the majority adhered to this time parameter thus allowing collection of data based on the questions outlined in the interview. Obviously, both are very damaging to the large investments made during the expatriation process.
Korean business is founded upon relationships; even large corporations are often family managed with members still acting in executive positions. The Confucian principles regarding respect for age, family, rank and tradition have ensured the continuance of this system. There have been recent calls for reforms, due to economic downturns, in Korea but this will take time due to the entrenched systems in place. Alongside the formal power structures in place within a company one must learn to recognise, and assess, the informal structures which may be based on long-standing family ties, personal relationships and allegiances.
Insight into these practises will ensure a greater comprehension of Korean business etiquette. Thank you for reading our guide to South Korea. We hope you found it useful.
If you have anything to add to our country profile please contact us as we are keen to ensure accuracy. Take the Culture Vulture's Quiz on South Korea and see how much you have learnt about the country, its people and culture. You have 3 minutes to complete it - go on, test yourself!
The page document has been authored by one of our South Korea country specialists and provides readers with much more detail that our free guide above. Order via the button below to receive your South Korea Insight in seconds or read more before buying! Below are some of our blogs which look at South Korea: How different are North and South Korean Cultures?
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