Cultural Study Report - South Korea

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Intercultural Business Communication


This report has reviewed the culture of Korea by using Hofstede‟s five dimensions of national culture (1997). Culture is defined and critique of the five dimensions is discussed, followed by the analysis of Korea culture that shows significant contrasting cultural values with Western countries. Moreover, stereotypes of Korea seem related to the power distance and collectivism culture, deriving the strong bond in nationalism and respect to seniority. Regarding interpersonal communication, interaction is more indirect and passive with silence, which is perceived in four meanings: truthfulness, social discretion, embarrassment, and defiance. Non-verbal in particular plays its important role when communicating with Korean. Recommendations are given to student who might want to go to Korea for placement or working experience after graduation.


Case Study Report on South Korea

Intercultural Business Communication


Table of Contents
1 Introduction 1.1 Background information of Korea 4 5


Literature review 2.1 2.2 2.3 Cross Country Culture Cultural Dimensions The GLOBE Project

6 7 8 10


Analysis of culture in Korea 3.1 Geert Hofstede‟s Five Dimensions of National Culture



Stereotypes of the culture of Korea 4.1 4.2 Unified Nation and Sports Culture Obsession of respecting the senior?

14 14 16


Interpersonal Communication 5.1 5.2 Verbal communication Non-verbal communication

17 17 18








3 Case Study Report on South Korea


Intercultural Business Communication



The world is becoming a global market for rising and emerging

businesses, more and more enterprises (e.g. HSBC, IBM, Coca-Cola etc.) expand their business to foreign countries or spread over into the other continents (e.g. Asia). Employees are given more opportunities to work overseas and may encounter plenty of challenges and difficulties in foreign countries with different culture (Luthans and Doh 2009). When I was doing my Higher Diploma, I was selected to work in the Economic and Trade Office of Hong Kong Government in China as an intern. During the time, I met a lot of officials from different place and culture, one of them mentioned that the geographical mobility of students nowadays was relatively low; they were not willing to work out of their home country and explore new environment, which could widen their sights and enrich their experiences, this phenomenon also weaken the competitiveness of a country in long-term (Bonin et al., 2008). As a result, overseas working experience at an early stage would be beneficial to students and encourage them to get prepared before they face the real challenge in the society after graduation.

For myself as an international student, although placement year is not compulsory, I am willing to work in one of the most advanced technology-leading countries after graduation, Korea (South) (stated as Korea in the following). Its importance in the global economy is growing rapidly (Steers, 1999), especially its research and development in broadband technology that is currently leading the world (State of Internet Report, 2010), it attracts me to start my career path there. However, cultural factors should 4 Case Study Report on South Korea

Intercultural Business Communication


also be considered carefully, different cultural customs can cause negative effects for business (Chaney and Martin, 2007).


BACKGROUND OF KOREA Korea's population is one of the most ethnically and linguistically

homogenous in the world, virtually all Koreans share a common cultural and linguistic heritage. Korean society remains highly imbued with Confucian values and beliefs, moreover, along with other Asian countries, Korea has been recognized to have very contrasting cultural values with Western...
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