1. Korea’s startup environment is unpredictable: people can be fascinated with one thing very quickly, then drop it just as quickly. Korea is a great test bed to pilot your program since its population is very open to change and isn’t doesn’t generally get stuck on one thing. However, this also presents a challenge for companies that are hoping to create meaningful and sustainable changes in consumer behavior.
2. IT culture is very prevalent. Young people are very in touch with apps/social media and there is a cultural comfort with technology.
3. The startup community is open to foreigners, though it’s best you partner with a local. While many founders are foreign educated, and speak some English, there is often a general discomfort with partnering with foreigners. Koreans do respect, and even to an extent idolize Americans, but are often uncomfortable interacting because of language and cultural differences. So head into the country, but find locals to do the talking.
4. Young people don’t have enough money and time. This reality impacts the direction of products since there’s only a small market for expensive items, Korean millennials tend to rely on coupons and discounts for most of their products and services like fashion, household items and the sharing economy.
5. Korean startups don’t have a traditional Asian hierarchy and rigid cultural rules. Doing business in the country, while all done in Korean language, is less stringent and less culturally nuanced than other countries in the region.