Economic Powerhouses – Ride the Korean Wave to economic success


Hyundai. Samsung. Gangnam Style. The ‘Korean Wave’ has truly arrived on foreign shores.

In 1999 journalists coined the term “Korean Wave” to represent China’s fascination with all things South Korean. Fast-forward a decade and South Korean culture has become a global phenomenon, thanks in part to a certain addictive song-dance combo, but mostly down to economic achievements. So, it comes as little surprise that the next Economic Powerhouse we’re looking at is the mighty South Korea. While some countries continue to bear the brunt of the financial crisis, the South Korean economy impressively saw 2.5% growth in 2012. With such success, opportunities for investment are in abundance…

Talented traders galore

International trade forms the backbone of South Korea’s economy. Exports of manufactured goods generated a staggering £353.8 billion in 2012, making South Korea the world’s sixth largest exporter.
South Korea is a world leader in the shipbuilding, steel and automotive companies. Major companies in these sectors include Daewoo, Hyundai Heavy Industries and POSCO, yet there is still plenty more room for foreign investors.
Korea’s top imports from the UK in 2011 were motor vehicles (£41m), electrical machinery (£408m) and telecoms apparatus (£326m).

FTA equals advantage UK

A historic Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed by South Korea and the EU in 2011 is predicted to skyrocket Korean-British economic collaboration. This is set to bring in at least £500 million per annum to the UK! Opportunities in the financial, telecommunications and legal sectors are also lining up.

Key investment sectors

The UKTI lists the South Korean economy as one to watch and numerous sectors are brimming with investment potential, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Creative and Design
  • Consumer products
  • ICT
  • Energy

Seoul searching

  • In 2012, Seoul ranked as the fourth largest metropolitan economy following that of Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles.
  • Quality of life is exceptional, with the world’s fastest internet connections and most extensive subway system, high-speed rail services and a highly-educated populace.
  • Seoul, Korea’s capital city and technological hub, is rife with excellent opportunities. Samsung, the world’s largest electronics company which boasts a higher turnover than Apple, Google and Microsoft combined, emanates from here!

UK exporters to South Korea can get research funding to meet potential customers

There is some great support available for UK exporters keen to do business with South Korea, including research funding from UK Investment and Trade (www.ukti.gov.uk). Things to consider when communicating with potential customers in South Korea:

  • Web users are 4x more likely to purchase from a website that communicates in their language
  • Customers who buy online will pay more for a product if they can buy it in their own language
  • Over 56% of consumers say that the ability to obtain information in their own language is more important than price

Expansion plans are often exciting but can also be daunting, especially as effective communication plays a major role in the success of market penetration. You may need to think about translating your website and print material, marketing materials and also technical and product-related content such as manuals.

If you have any questions about how to approach communication requirements for new markets or would like information on our Korean translation services, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email info@comtectranslations.com.

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