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Working in Seoul

If working in Seoul sounds appealing to you, why not become an expat there? Seoul, home of many international companies, offers many exciting opportunities for expats. We give you insights into the economy, the expat job market, visas, and everything else you need to know about working in Seoul.
Seoul is South Korea's economic center.

South Korea experienced a significant economic growth rate of 6.3% in 2010. All in all, the country has taken big steps since the 1960s. It is now one of the largest economies in Asia and keeps seeking integration into the global market. As the country’s capital is also the location of many multinational companies, Seoul offers great employment opportunities for expatriates.

Getting to Know the Economy

The economic development Seoul and, more broadly, South Korea has gone through is impressive. The country reacted to the first crisis in 1998 with economic reforms which brought greater openness to imports and foreign investment by companies interested in doing business in Seoul and the rest of the nation. Until 2007, the country used to record an annual growth of between 4 and 5%. Also, the global economic crisis did not hurt South Korea on a long-term basis. Instead, the country has recovered quickly.

The majority of people working in Seoul are employed in the services sector. The manufacturing industries, and to a lesser extent the agricultural sector, remain major employers in South Korea, though. Foreigners who are interested in working in Seoul will probably find an occupation in one of the major industries, such as electronics, telecommunications, automobile production or the chemical industry.

On top of this, South Korea has an urbanization rate of 82.5%, meaning the majority of the population currently lives in Seoul and other major cities. The urban area around Seoul is home to almost half of South Korea’s population. Foreign residents in Seoul will benefit from the numerous economic opportunities. International banks and major companies such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai, or Kia are located here. Seoul’s economic activity accounts for 21% of the country’s GDP.

Taking Care of Your Work Visa

There are different types of work visas which could apply to you while you are working in Seoul. This depends strongly on your occupation and on the duration of your stay. A temporary employment visa (C-4) is probably the best fit for most expatriates with a job in Seoul. However, you should refer to our article on moving to Seoul and to your nearest South Korean embassy for more information on visa types.

What is important for expats, no matter which type of visa they need, is to enter the country within 90 days after the visa has been granted. If you fail to do so, your visa will expire and you will have to go through the entire application process again. Your visa will also expire as soon as your work contract ends. You will then have to leave South Korea within 14 days. If you want to keep working in Seoul, you can, of course, find another job. Unfortunately, this will not save you from re-applying for a work visa.


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