I just read a blog post by my friends over at the China Law Blog that motivated me to write the following post. Korea is an excellent testing ground to determine the feasibility of your business for other Asian markets such as China or Japan. The country has, also, proven more profitable, for many businesses, than the often too hard to catch "Chinese Middle Class."
The following is a list of some industries that are successful in Korea:
1. Franchises. The franchise market in Korea is booming. All major players are in Korea and most are doing very well. Many of the lesser-known franchises have also succeeded.
2. Education. Koreans have a thirst for education that seems insatiable. Much of the market, however, is closed to foreign competition.
3. Military Technology. Korea is one of world's largest purchasers of military technology. All major players have a solid footing in Korea with many of the second-tier players playing a vital role in Korea's blossoming native military technology industry.
4. Food & Beverage. Foreign products are now seen everyday on Korean dinner tables. Koreans also have a presumption that foreign food is exotic, and thus, more tasty and interesting to eat.
5. Health & Pharmaceutical. As a somewhat aged society, Korea has struggled with many of the same diseases as seen in the West.
6. Fashion & Textile. The middle and upper class in Korea have an aptitude for luxury goods that is beginning to rival even the Japanese.
7. Green Technology. As the world changes, so does Korea. The world has a thirst for sustainable solutions and green energy. Korea is slowly following suit.
8. Suppliers to Chaebols. The major companies in Korea are purchasers of everything from automobile supplies to crude oil.
9. Software. The top foreign players dominate the market in Korea. Only a few Korean companies have managed to carve out a substantial niche of their own. Many foreign players have also successfully licensed software to major conglomerates with success.
10. Industrial Machinery. Surprisingly enough, Korea is an importer of high-tech industrial machinery. A great deal of the machinery is imported from Japan.
11. Entertainment Business. With a shrinking workweek and more disposable income, Korean consumers are increasingly spending money on entertainment and leisure.
12. Tourism. Tourism spending has increased over the past decade, leading to low hotel vacancy rates and a boost in retail spending on fashion, entertainment, and electronics. The largest foreign tourist population visiting Korea is the Chinese. The Chinese find, in many cases, that shopping in Korea is more economical than shopping in Hong Kong.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.