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Understanding Korean Society


  • Work Schedule: Businesses in Korea typically operate from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening, from Monday through Friday.

  • Language in the Business Environment: While Korean is the primary language of business, English is often used at the senior management level.

  • Dress Code: The Korean business environment favors modest and subtle attire. Men are expected to wear suits, while women are advised to dress modestly and avoid revealing outfits.

  • Gift-Giving Etiquette: Presenting gifts is a common practice in Korean business culture. Gifts should be offered and accepted with both hands. It's also customary not to open gifts in the presence of the giver.

  • Gender Dynamics: The business landscape in Korea is predominantly male. However, foreign businesswomen are expected to maintain an elegant demeanor.

  • Greetings: Men usually greet each other with a slight bow and a handshake. Some Korean women may refrain from shaking hands with Western men.

  • Business Culture: Korean business culture places a high value on personal relationships, respect for hierarchy, and the concept of 'saving face'.

  • Conducting Meetings: Trust is a crucial aspect of Korean business dealings. The first meeting may not involve any business discussions, and punctuality is highly valued.

  • Social Interactions: Invitations for dinner, post-dinner drinks, and karaoke sessions are common in Korean business culture.

  • Naming Conventions: In Korea, the family name precedes the given name, which usually consists of two parts.

  • Concept of 'Saving Face': In Korean culture, 'saving face' often involves preventing others from experiencing embarrassment. Direct communication is usually avoided when resolving disagreements.

  • Hierarchy: Korean society has an elaborate hierarchical system based on an individual's position, age, prestige, and gender.

  • Business Card Exchange: Exchanging business cards is a standard practice in Korean business culture. Cards should be given and received with both hands.

  • Dos and Don'ts: Be prepared for personal questions, participate enthusiastically in karaoke sessions, and avoid discussing sensitive topics such as politics and North Korea.

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