The Korean Way In Business: Understanding and Dealing with the South Koreans in Business

The Korean Way In Business: Understanding and Dealing with the South Koreans in Business

by Boye Lafayette De Mente


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Learn the ins and outs of conducting business in South Korea.

South Korean companies and technology have suddenly conquered the world. Samsung, Hyundai and LG are industry leaders and the global brands. Korean culture in the form of K-Pop music videos and "Korean Wave" films and TV dramas are watched everywhere from Tel Aviv to Singapore to Rio. Korean gourmet food trucks ply the streets of New York and LA, and kimchi has found a place on the shelves of well-stocked supermarkets around the world.

With just a fraction of Japan's land area, less than half its population, and no natural resources—how have Korean companies managed to conquer the world in such a short period of time? What is the "secret sauce" of Korean business practices and companies that make them so successful?

To find out, readers need more than statistics and company profiles. Learning the basics of Korean culture, about Korean social etiquette and Korean business culture, will enable you to understand for the first time how Koreans think and why they work so effectively to achieve their goals. This understanding will enhance your own effectiveness in doing business with Koreans, or in competing with them—whether in Korea or elsewhere. The Korean Way in Business is a must-read for business professionals who wish to know the secrets underlying the commercial practices and business success of modern-day Koreans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804844574
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Publication date: 03/25/2014
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Boye Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Japan, China, and Korea since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, student, trade journalist, editor, and author working out of Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He is a graduate of Jochi University in Tokyo and The American Institute for Foreign Trade (now Thunderbird: The School of Global Management). His 70-plus books include Japan's Cultural Code Words, Business Guide to Japan, and Japan Unmasked.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Origin of South Korea 8

Introduction: The Rise of South Korea

The Great Chaebol Conglomerates 11

The KOTRA Contribution 14

Major Business Centers 15

TV Sales and Internet Shopping 15

The Corporate Graveyard 15

Foreign Companies in South Korea 15

Opportunities for Green Industries 16

The Defense Industries 16

Success of the Fast-Food Chains 17

Using Lawyers in South Korea 17

Marketing and Sales Infrastructure 18

Business Entertainment Industry 18

A Difference in Corporate Philosophy 18

Other Reasons Why Foreign Companies Fail 19

Getting Help from Chambers of Commerce 20

Getting Help from Private Consultants 21

The "Force" that Drives Koreans 22

Work as Religion 26

The Lust for Power 26

Fighting at the Drop of a Hat 27

The Legacy of Enforced Harmony 28

The Clans Are Alive and Well 30

The Problem of Names 31

A Primary Contact for Newcomers 36

Chapter 1 A Historical Profile 38

Early Kingdoms 38

The Last Dynasty 40

Contact with Japan 41

Colonization by Japan 43

The Korean War and Its Aftermath 44

Chapter 2 The Basics of Korean Etiquette & Ethics 46

The Perils of Using Logic 47

The Ethics of Group Consciousness 49

The "Good Mood" Syndrome 50

Dealing with Sensitive Feelings 51

Dealing with Powerful Emotions 52

Avoiding the Appearance of Arrogance 53

Dealing with South Korean Nationalism 54

The Western Way vs. the South Korean Way 55

What is Fair in South Korea? 56

The Emotional Content of Business 57

Chapter 3 The Enduring Korean Character 59

Humanism and Benevolence in Business 60

Defining South Korean Management 60

"Scold Management" 63

Mind Control 64

Striving for Power 64

The Battle for an Education 65

Etiquette as Morality 66

Dealing with Duty and Obligations 67

Korean-Style Sin 68

The Personal Nature of Business 69

More Personal Elements in Business 72

Respect in South Korea 74

The Personal Loyalty Factor 75

Saving Everybody's Face 76

Hospitality as Face 78

Avoiding Shame 79

The Unbearable Burden 80

The Shame of Failure 81

Death before Dishonor 81

Peace of Mind 82

Situational Truth 83

Justice South Korean Style 84

The Communications Problem 86

The Great Ethical Divide 88

The Kindness Trap 89

Class Consciousness and School Ties 89

Juniors and Seniors 90

The Power of Social Debts 92

The Stubborn Syndrome 92

Doing Things by the Book 93

Dealing with Facts 94

When "Maybe" Means "No" 95

Personal Responsibility 96

Dealing with "Big Brother" 97

The Guiding Hand of Government 99

The Role of Friends in Business 101

The Importance of Sincerity 102

The Self-Reliant Syndrome 103

Chapter 4 Korean Business Culture Today 105

Manners as Morality 106

Circumstantial Ethics 107

The Perils of Pipyong 108

The Ethics of Revenge 109

The Jealousy Virus 110

Honoring Superiors 111

The Social Pecking Order 112

The Faction Syndrome 113

Corporations as Military Units 114

The Rank-Based Society 114

Rank has its Privileges 115

The Military Factor in Business 116

Cold Calls Are Out 117

Appointments and Meetings 118

Office Call Protocol 118

Dressing for Business 119

The Dual Role of Name Cards 120

The Use of First Names 121

Gift Giving vs. Bribery 121

To Bow or Not to Bow? 123

Standing Up at the Right Time 125

Rounds of Greetings 126

The South Korean View and Use of Contracts 127

Big Foreign Company Myopia 132

Major Problem Areas 132

Conflicting Goals 134

Playing Games with the Books 134

Privacy South Korean Style 135

Working for a Boss, Not a Company 135

Female Employees 136

Women and Male Chauvinism 136

The Great Walls of South Korea 137

Disobeying Laws 138

Reading Each Other's Nunchi 139

The Role and Importance of Social Status 142

Relationships and Connections 142

Human Harmony in Management 144

Ties that Bind 144

The Importance of a Dignified Manner 146

The Decision-Making System 147

Negotiating South Korean Style 150

Negotiations Dos and Don'ts 151

The Bargaining Factor in Business 153

Controlling Competition 154

Hospitality and Business 154

Private Invitations 156

Business Dining 156

Business Drinking 157

Singing Your Way to Success 160

Having Fun in a Kisaeng House 162

The Job Rotation System 164

Company Mottos and Creeds 165

Dealing with Office Stress 166

Advice for Foreign Managers 166

Avoiding Cultural Backlash 167

The Role of "Go-Betweens" 168

The Need for Patience 169

Formula for Keeping Best Workers 170

Developing Team Spirit 170

The Use of Collective Punishment 171

Veterans' Law 171

Foreign Workers 172

Emphasis on Company Training 172

Arbitration Taboos 173

The Importance of the Apology 173

The Korean Adaptation of English 174

Dos and Don'ts 175

Regulation by Competitors 176

The Prime Contact for Newcomers 176

The Good Side 177

A Pending Retirement Law 179

Chapter 5 Vocabulary of the Korean Way 180

Appendix 1 Management Titles and Their Korean Equivalents 210

Appendix 2 Guide to Korean Pronunciation 212

Index 216

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