Business Communications 254.C
June 22, 2006
Korean Business Communication
The world of international business is becoming smaller and smaller daily due to
"Amazing new transportation and information technologies which are major
contributors to the development of our global interconnectivity" (Guffey 95). This
advancement has allowed more and more foreign markets to open up to do trade.
The Republic of Korea is one such market. In order to successfully compete in this
very attractive Asian market, one must be aware of the Korean business culture.
The Koreans have certain customs and ways of communication when doing
business that all outsiders need to have studied well in advance because they differ
greatly from western business conduct.
One of the fundamental principles to keep in mind in dealing with people in the
Korean business world is that they will not do business with anyone that they do not
trust. "For Koreans, relationships are important; cold calls don't work, introductions
are crucial!" (South Korea). Once an introduction is done, one should be able to
greet the Korean in his own language. "It demonstrates that you respect the country
and the culture enough to make an effort", (Chu 245). Since Koreans usually
negotiate in groups; one must keep in mind that their senior officials are always
introduced first and one must do the same for one's own negotiating team.
The Koreans consider the use of business cards very valuable as it helps them to
determine what position and status the person who is attempting to do business with
them have within their own company. Koreans like to negotiate with people of equal
company status. "Business entertainment and socializing is considered very
important and is usually limited to restaurants and bars" (Axtell 95), this also
provides an opportunity to establish trust. During these times, Korean
businesspersons may ask what appear to be very personal questions to Westerners.
When asked for private information such as one's age or marital status, one should
keep in mind that this too is just a part of the Korean businessperson's attempt at
getting to know a potential partner better and therefore trust them.
Korean businesspersons are known to be very polite when negotiating deals and
Westerners should remember to do the same. When communicating with a group of
Koreans, it is very rude to make outbursts or make emotional gestures in front of
them over disagreements. This could also put one at a disadvantage because the
Koreans view this type of behavior as a sign of weakness and may interpret such
actions as desperate. The negotiating process for Koreans is always long and drawn
out so showing patience is always a virtue. Korean businesspersons like to make
sure that they understand all aspects of a potential deal fully because for them to
make a mistake is viewed as dishonorable.
In conclusion, conducting business deals with Koreans is a very tricky process
and proper communication with them is important. As Korea!') culture is quite
different from Western culture, one has to be mindful of how one interacts with them.
Simple common Western actions such as making a personal introduction oneself,
raising one's voice during negotiations, or handing out business cards with one hand
are communication mistakes that could possibly have a negative effect on a deal.
One must be mindful of these issues and more when doing business with Koreans.
Axtell, Roger E., Do's and Taboos Around The World. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley, 1993.
Chu, Chin-Ning, The Asian Mind Game. New York: Macmillan, 1991.
Guffey, Mary Ellen, Business Communication: Process and Product. 4th ed. Mason:
Ong TS, Colin....
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