Country File: South Korea
GDP: $1,164 trillion
GDP per capita: $23,749
GDP by sector: Industry (39.3%);
GDP Growth: 3.9% (2011)
South Korea is the fifteenth largest economy in the world. South Korea was one of the world's fastest growing economies in the 1960s and 1990s, and continues to enjoy growth along with the other so called Tiger states of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. The country pursued rapid development policies from the 1960s based on manufacturing and exports. The automotive industry has been one of the key drivers of economic growth and export, since the 1980s and in recent years automotive manufacturers have sought to reposition their brands away from entry value products to mid range and higher quality products, directly challenging Japanese and European manufacturers.
In the 1990s and 2000s South Korean manufacturers have focused on high technology industries, and electronics, while still retaining industries such as ship production and automobiles.
Its main export trading partners in Asia are China, and Japan, although the US is a major export market. Major Imports are from Australia, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and the US. Total exports in 2011 were $558 billion and had imports of $525 billion.
DemographicsUrban Population: 32 million (65.4%)
Languages & Ethnic Groups
Official Language: Korean
South Korea is a relatively homogenous society, and the Korean language is widely spoken by the majority of the population. However, English is widely taught at all school levels. While English is increasinly spoken by managers, it is not as widely spoken across the wider population.
Business & Consumer Culture
The business culture of South Korea is unique within Asia. In some respects it is similar to China and Japan. However, Koreans tend to be more direct than people in China and Japan, at least in terms of business negotiations. Non verbal communications is also seen as important in senior business negotiations.
As Korea becomes wealthier, social structure and consumer attitudes have begun to change. The population is becoming more urban, ageing and single person households are on the increase. Koreans now consume more packaged food and takeaways, and generally follow lifestyles which are increasingly similar to Western Consumers. In some senses, Koreans are more focused on quality products and brands rather than value propositions, as they have become wealthier. Koreans have also become used to high end consumer electronics as to be expected rather than a luxury.
Market Research in Korea
Currency: South Korean Won (KRW)
Smartphone ownership: 40%
Internet Users: 40 m (2010) (83%)
Online market research is widely conducted in South Korea, with many established online panels. Asia Opinions currently can access 89,000 online panellists. Surveys need to be conducted in local language.