Culture Shock: Business Etiquette [South Korea]


  • Punctuality is a MUST for Westerners
    • It is okay for YOU to be kept waiting up 30 minutes, it shows the pressure of time on Korean executives.


  • Shake hands of both men, and women upon meeting
    • Make sure to shake all the men’s hands
  • The higher the person’s rank the deeper your bow should be

First Meeting

  • Establishes a trust, and to get to know each other
  • Exchange business cards

Business Cards

  • Have one side of your business card in Korea

  • Present, and receive business cards with both hands
  • Present your business card with Korean side facing up
  • The way a person’s card is treated indicates how you will treat that person
    • DO NOT write on a person’s business card in their presence


  • Most senior person enters the room first
  • DO NOT remove jacket unless the most senior person does first
  • Introduce members of your party with the most senior person first


  • Negotiations generally take a long time, and can go beyond business hours
  • Prepare, and send materials ahead of time
  • It is best to ask a question that requires a direct answer
    • With yes or no questions, yes is usually said to save face
  • Respond with direct answers
  • Low/deep bows from Koreans indicates a successful meeting
  • Quick/short bow could mean dissatisfaction with the meeting
  • Visit often during negations as well as after they are concluded

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