When you arrive to Korean company in South Korea to have a meeting you might feel a bit anxious and/or nervous because you don’t know exactly how is going to be.

This post will help you to develop a basic understanding of Korean culture and how it influences their meeting practices.

Korean culture compared to other cultures is very complex, so Koreans do not expect foreigners to know everything about Korean culture, but the effort Koreans see that foreigners put on it is totally worth it and will definitely help you to build a long lasting relationship.

1) Korean business people are very busy, just like any other businessmen around the world, however when you visit their company in South Korea, it is a must be always on time. Korean top executives might arrive a bit late, but DO NOT express anger or annoyance. In Korea, the traffic is very dense so it might be the cause of the delay.
Regardless of this, it would be recommended if you arrive some minutes earlier. Not too early as that would be disruptive.

If you are going to arrive late, please call the Korean side and inform that you are running late and approximately how long you will be delayed to the meeting.

2) Get in advance the address of the place/company where you have the meeting. Korean side usually gives the romanized address. The romanized address is very difficult to read for taxi drivers so you might not get either on time or get the right place. Therefore, make sure the Korean side also provides the Korean address in Korean language (Hangeul). Additionally, if you can get a map of the location (from google for example) the better. It will help the taxi driver to locate the place in case that it is not in one of the city centers.

3) When a group meeting is held, the senior member of your side should enter the meeting room first, then the next highest ranking person and like his successively. On the other hand, Koreans will be seated according to their rank as well, so it would be easy to recognize who is the highest in rank in the Korean side.

4) The meeting will start with an small talk about topics such as Korean weather, how is the weather in your country, did you arrive well to the office, how is your city or your country, hobbies, sports or some other curiosity that they have about your or your country.

5) Point 3) might be a bit superficial, but you should be prepared to socialize and share personal information. Also, you will have to share your personal time (no business hours) with Koreans in order to socialize and get to know each other better. This is very important in order to build a business relationship. Usually, they will take you to have dinner and drinks, Karaoke or any other social event. Even if you perform well this part and the meeting was good enough, the chances for business deals are greater but not guaranteed.

Other very useful tips:

– The best time to have a meeting in Korean companies is from 10:00 am to 12:00 am and from 14:00 pm to 17:30 pm.

The lunchtime is from 12:00 pm to 13:00 pm. Koreans they like to have a quick lunch and coffee time together.

If they invite you to have lunch with them, probably the highest in rank will go with you but will not stay long as he/she might have another appointment.

– If you have a business lunch, it will take place in a hotel or expensive restaurants.

– Do not show up in a company without prior notice.

– Koreans do work very much and long hours but officially the business hours are from 8:30~9:00 to 17:30 pm. When your business is in more advanced level, the contact hours window will be longer.

– If you don’t know where to seat in a meeting, wait for the Korean side to tell you where to be seated.

– If you bring a presentation in powerpoint of USB to the meeting, tell in advance to the Korean side, so they can find a meeting room with the electronic support needed.

– Bring catalogs and any relevant printed information to the meeting and after that send the same information by email (recommended sending it by email the same day of the meeting).

– Prior to the visit, inform by email who are the attendees of your side and their position within the company, in order so Korean side can distinguish who is the decision maker. You can ask for the same information in advance as well.

– Be punctual. Punctuality is very important. So consider the possible delays due to traffic.