South Korea Flag Country Profile

Republic of Korea Country Profile

Recommendations:

Korea is a wealthy, highly developed country with one of the world’s best high tech manufacturing sectors, a large base of middle class consumers, and strong trade relations with the US. It can be a hard place for foreign companies to make initial inroads, but is much easier once established. ** Good choice for most businesses**

(+) Politically stable with world class logistics and ICT
(+) Highly educated, skilled, and productive workforce
(+) Local Korean companies compete globally
(+) Free Trade Agreement with US minimizes taxes and provides equal footing to American companies

(-) Dominated by large firms (chaebols); foreign companies can have difficulty competing
(-) Tensions with DPRK increase credit and jurisdiction risks, and can cause negative economic impacts
(-) Complex bureaucratic and regulatory environment

Highlights:

– Ranked #5 globally for Ease of Doing Business Index and 84% on Human Capital Index
– Highly productive workforce, but high cost of living, property rent, and labor costs
– Strong trade relations with the US, established Free Trade Agreement, and supportive government
– Some of the world’s best infrastructure

"Korea remains the sixth largest trading partner of the United States, accounting for over 156 billion dollars in two way trade in goods and services in 2017. Today, the Republic of Korea and the United States enjoy vibrant trade and economic relations .”

U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris, 2018

Country Facts:

Population:

52 million, 0.2% growth in 2019

GDP:

$1.6 trillion USD, 2.7% growth in 2019

GNI per capita:

$30,600 USD, 0.1% Inflation, high income country

Industries:

Manufacturing (semiconductors, electronics, ships, cars, chemicals), telecommunications, and steel

Tourism:

#28 most visited country in the world

Investment:

Government actively encourages foreign investment through the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)

#5/190

#39/180

84%

37.3 M

$14.2K USD

#37/100

87% NYC Prices

Ease of Doing Business

Corruption Perceptions Index

Human Capital Index

Working Age Population

Household Expenditure Per Capita

English Language Capabilities

Cost of Living Plus Rent Index

#5/190

#39/180

84%

37.3 M

$14.2K USD

#37/100

87% NYC Prices

Marketing:

Per capita expenditure:

$14,226 USD

Internet penetration:

96%

Shop online:

80%

Mobile ownership:

118%

Primary messaging:

Kakaotalk

Primary website:

Facebook

Average Labor:

Infrastructure:

Opening a Business:

Relevant Laws:

Enforcement Decree of the Foreign Investment Promotion Act (1999), Foreign Investment Promotion Act (1998)

Time to Incorporate:

Approximately 8 days to incorporate
Fees to Incorporate:

Approximately $400 USD, not including accounting fees. High paid-in capital requirements

Paid-in Capital:

KRW 100 million ($90k USD) paid-in capital usually required;  can be avoided by opening branch instead of incorporating

Remittance Taxes:

Recently updated FTA and tax treaty with the US protects US firms and minimizes taxes

Restrictions:

100% foreign ownership allowed; restrictions on foreign ownership in defense, power generation, broadcasting, telecommunications, air & water transport, and meat sales

Trends:

Government easing regulatory burden via new Office of the Foreign Investment Ombudsman

BBA Services:

BBA works with a trusted partner in Seoul, and is in the process of establishing a local office. BBA can help match you with local partners, navigate local norms, and establish a foothold in Korea.