South Korea

Working in South Korea?

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Working in South Korea

Working in South Korea may help you start a brand-new international career. As one of the Asian Tigers, South Korea offers a strong economy and all kinds of work opportunities. Read our guide on business in South Korea and learn more about the economy, the job search, and business etiquette!
South Korea attracts countless expats each year.

Working in South Korea will not only kick-start your international career, it will also get you in touch with a unique Asian culture. Expats are increasingly drawn to South Korea, which is home to many international companies. The country is striving to become a major business hub within East Asia.

The South Korean Economy

South Korea has seen an incredible record of growth and global integration in recent years, allowing the economy to grow stronger each year. Right now, South Korea is among the largest economies in the world. This is mostly due to a system of close government and business ties. As of 2004, the country belongs to the trillion dollar club of world economies. Working in South Korea means indeed working in a high-tech industrialized country.

Like many other Asian countries, South Korea experienced a small financial crisis at the end of the 20th century. The crisis was finally solved with greater openness to foreign investments and imports. However, expats working in South Korea should be aware that the country’s economy still faces long-term challenges. An aging population, an inflexible job market, and its strong dependence on manufacturing exports which account for half of the country’s GDP are just a few of South Korea’s problems.

What Exactly Is Important in South Korea?

In the past, a big part of the labor force was working in South Korea’s agricultural sector. In 1987, this sector made up 12.3% of the nation’s GDP and employed 21% of the labor force. Today, however, South Korea is moving towards industrialization and the agricultural sector is shrinking. Nowadays, it contributes only 2.3% to the total GDP.

South Korea’s industries have become a major source of income. They have pushed the economy towards growth since the 1980s. Today, they contribute 38.3% to the GDP. South Korea’s largest industries are electronics, automobiles, telecommunication equipment, and shipbuilding.

In addition, South Korea is one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. Electronic goods, semiconductors, and memory chips are all produced here. Expats who consider working in South Korea might also find an occupation in the automotive industry. In fact, South Korea is a major automobile producer, with more than 4 million cars manufactured each year.

Other Sectors

Are you rather looking for a job in the shipbuilding sector? Expats who are considering working in South Korea will be happy to hear that the country is a global player in this industry. In 2008, South Korea covered more than 50% of the global shipbuilding market. Four of the world’s largest shipbuilding companies are located here as well:

  • Hyundai Heavy Industries
  • Samsung Heavy Industries
  • Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering
  • STX Offshore & Shipbuilding

The biggest employer throughout the country, however, is the services sector, which provides more than 70% of people working in South Korea with an occupation. As the services sector makes up almost 60% of the nation’s GDP, experts predict that it may become the driving force of the economy in the future.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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