What is the business Practices and Etiquette in Korea?
When meeting a Korean business person for the first time, it is best to be introduced by a third party, rather than introducing yourself. Shaking hands is now common even among Koreans. A bow may or may not precede the handshake.
The exchange of business cards is a vital part of a first meeting. It is also important to emphasize one's title so that, right away, the correct authority, status and rank are established and understood. The recent Western trend toward eliminating titles has created some problems for some companies when dealing with Korean businesses as Koreans generally prefer to deal only with someone of equal rank as opposed to someone of lower rank.
Use both hands if possible when presenting and receiving a business card. If that is not possible, use your right hand and support your right elbow with your left hand. Business cards should be treated as an extension of the person. Therefore you should read it carefully and then place it on the table in front of you. To put someone's card in your pocket or to write on it, etc. is to show disrespect to the person.
It is important to make an appointment a few weeks in advance of a business meeting. Most business meetings are scheduled mid-morning (10 AM to 12 PM) or mid-afternoon (between 2 and 4 PM). Punctuality is important as it is a sign of respect. If you realize that you may be a little late, it is best to call ahead to say so.
To enhance communication and reduce the possibility of misunderstanding due to language, you may find it helpful to send written materials - brochures, marketing materials, proposals, etc. - in writing to your Korean counterpart some time prior to the meeting.
More and more Koreans use a Western (usually English) name as a courtesy to foreign colleagues/clients. However, you may want to make sure to also know their Korean name.
When addressing a Korean, use his/her title along with her/his family name unless you've been invited to do otherwise. If there is no title, use Mr/Mrs/Miss with the family name.
Since, for example, Harry Kim may not be known as such among his Korean colleagues and trying to find a Mr. Kim is a Korean corporation is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. It can help if you know his exact title and department.
Modesty and humility are important in Korean culture and therefore it is best to avoid over-selling yourself or your company' previous business achievements. When interviewing Koreans, you may want to keep this characteristic in mind ? the interviewee will either understate her/his abilities and achievements in the belief that you will be aware of them and that anything else would be rude or, in an attempt to live up to perceived Western expectation, he/she may exaggerate what would not be stressed normally in a Korean context.
In order to show respect, some Koreans still do not make eye-contact for any length of time when in the presence of an authority figure.
However, this is changing and you should make direct eye-contact when addressing business professionals and clients, as doing so is expected and is interpreted as an indication of your honesty and interest.
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