Cultural intelligence

 
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South Korea - fast response can be expected!

South Korea is a sovereign state in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and Sea of Japan to the east. About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea.

South Koreans live a distinctive urban lifestyle, with half of them living in the Seoul Capital Area, the world’s second largest city with over 25 million residents. The country is at the leading edge of the digital revolution with high-speed and wireless internet. Around 45 million South Koreans – out of a population of almost 49 million – were online by 2014.

Highly mountainous, South Korea is a popular winter sport destination in Asia, and will be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Two interesting facts about South Korea: the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) declared that South Korea is the country with the highest estimated national IQ on Earth; and South Korea harvests more than 90% of the world’s seaweed consumption!

By Western standards, the role of women in society is distinctly inferior to that of men. It is rare for women to succeed in business in Korea and most women work in basic administration positions or in poorly paid assembly line jobs. It is generally expected that women will leave work on getting married or having children. However, within the confines of the family, women wield a certain amount of control, with many having responsibility for family finances.

South Korea elected its first female president, Park Geun-hye, in a close-run contest in December 2012. Her father President Park Chung-hee, ruled the country for 18 years after seizing power in a coup.

In business, it is helpful to be introduced to a company by a trusted third party. Cultural differences influence communication. Traditional culture favours harmony rather than confrontation, causing Westerners to understand silence as acceptance. Ask questions from several directions to verify that the message has been successfully communicated.

When making presentations, minimise words and maximise graphs, charts and visuals that can communicate across languages and cultures.

South Korea is a country where things can happen extremely quickly. Same day response is the norm. A week without communication is interpreted as lack of interest and/or termination of a project.

Do you have any South Korean business experiences to share?

Sources: Wikpedia, David Clive Price, World Business Culture, bbc.com, randomhistory.com

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