South Korea might have experienced unprecedented growth in its recent history, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost sight of more ancient traditions. Its combination of bustling cities, serene Buddhist temples, and vibrant food scene make it an attractive destination—not just for tourists, but also for businesses seeking to tap into its dynamic workforce.
Despite a population of approximately 51 million people, South Korea is a relatively small country in terms of geographical size. The density of its population means the country is a hive of activity, serviced by a diverse and adaptable workforce with a unique perspective on business and innovation.
South Korea has earned global recognition for its prowess in technology and innovation, with globally-recognized companies like Samsung or Hyundai. What’s more, its emphasis on education—particularly in STEM fields—has cultivated a workforce that is highly skilled, technologically savvy, and ready to tackle the complex challenges of the modern world.
The typical working week runs from Monday to Friday, with most businesses operating nine hours a day. However, it’s worth noting that South Koreans often work much longer hours than advertised–because of this, the government has been taking steps to promote a healthier work-life balance, including implementing measures to reduce maximum work durations.
The benefits of doing business in South Korea
Need a little more convincing? The country’s economy is dominated by industry, with the largest sectors being electronics, automobiles, telecommunications, shipbuilding, chemicals, and steel. Since the 90s, however, service industries such as banking, financial services, insurance, freight, logistics, communication, and digital services have become increasingly important to the economy–with a large cohort of professionals emerging to service them. If you’re looking to make use of those individuals, look no further than our competitive global employment platform, which features country-specific pricing so you can be sure to get the best deal whether you’re hiring in South Korea or beyond!)
But back to South Korea–the country is one of the world’s most export-dependent industrialized nations, with exports of goods and services valued at 35.6 percent of GDP. Yet another export is talent, with the diversity and specialization of its workforce making South Korea an attractive location for global businesses looking to strengthen their teams. The Multiplier platform makes the process effortless, with contract generation possible in under five minutes (seriously, we’ve timed it).
Other nuances for businesses to note when hiring in South Korea include the construction of attractive compensation packages. It’s crucial to get this right as offering the right employee benefits enhances retention, job satisfaction, and facilitates the attraction of top-notch South Korean talent.
We’ve still only scratched the surface of reasons to hire in South Korea. Here are three takeaways you need to understand about the South Korean workforce.
- Resilient Workforce: South Korea’s labor force has shown high levels of resilience despite global challenges–not least COVID-19. Total employment in the country has been on an upward path since the beginning of 2021, surpassing pre-crisis highs in February 2020.
- Female Participation: Women’s participation in the labor force in South Korea plays a significant role in the country’s economy. The labor force participation rate for women is substantial and trending upwards, standing at 55% as of 2022.
- Job Security: South Korean workers value job security highly, and local labor laws don’t allow employers with five or more workers to dismiss them without just cause. That meant Google’s recent efforts to reduce its workforce in South Korea faced resistance from employees.
How does that sound? We know this is a lot of information to take into consideration. That’s why at Multiplier we pride ourselves on offering dedicated, 24/5 support tailored to specific countries–so you can sit back and relax in the knowledge that the professionals have things under control.
Now you’re speaking their language
Picture this scenario: you’ve hired and onboarded talent from South Korea, and now you’re wondering what makes them tick. Consider these tips for effective communication with your South Korean colleagues, starting with the stuff that helps no matter where they’re based:
- Clear Communication: Clearly communicate job expectations, company culture, and goals to ensure alignment. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help keep everyone on the same page.
- Leverage Technology: Use technology to facilitate collaboration and communication. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Trello can help manage projects effectively.
- Integration: Make efforts to integrate remote workers into the company culture. Virtual team-building activities or occasional in-person meetings (if possible) can foster a sense of belonging.
- Legal Compliance: Ensure all employment contracts and practices comply with South Korean labor laws, even when hiring remotely. Luckily, with Multiplier, our easy-to-use platform ensures compliance is guaranteed, with automatic contract generation that dots the Is and crosses the Ts.
That’s all well and good, but connecting with a new hire is also about bonding over interests. To that end, it may interest you to know that South Korea has a vibrant sports culture with professional leagues in soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, e-sports, and Go. Befitting its sporting heritage, the country has hosted various sporting events, including the 1988 Summer Olympics and 2002 FIFA World Cup (jointly with Japan). We told you South Koreans love sport.
But if your South Korean colleague is more of an indoors type, it’s worth remembering that South Korea is also a cultural powerhouse. While traditional Korean culture includes unique customs and practices like the harvest festival Chuseok, contemporary culture is where the country has the biggest impact on the global stage thanks to K-pop and Korean television and film. Between the second series of Squid Game and the latest BTS banger, there’s always something interesting to talk about when it comes to South Korean culture.
Speaking the truth
Of course, if you really want to impress your new hire, you could try picking up some South Korean terminology, starting with greetings. The most common way to say “hello” is “Annyeonghaseyo“, which can be used in both formal and casual settings. On the other hand, saying goodbye is something of a minefield, which varies based on the level of formality. For instance, “Annyeong” is an informal way to say “goodbye”, while “Annyeonghee geseyo” is more polite. Tricky!
When it comes to work terminology, here’s a few phrases to help you get by. If you hear the phrase, “ilhaneun bangbeob-eul allyeo jusibsio”, your Korean colleague needs help–they’re asking “teach me how to do the work”. If you’re still unable to assist, they might follow up with: “museun il-eul haeya haneunji al su issseubnikka?” which means “Can you tell me what I need to do?”
Tech terminology is also essential given South Korea’s reputation as a technological powerhouse. Here’s a few words commonly used in South Korea’s tech sector. The term “Geomsaeg Enjin” refers to “Search Engine, while “Pail” stands for “File”. Hope that helps!
Did you know?
Now that we’ve got the serious business out of the way, let’s have a quick look at some South Korea fun facts.
South Korea has a rich history dating back thousands of years, but the modern form of the country came into existence in 1948 after enduring years of military rule. After the Korean war ended in 1953, the country’s rapid development has become known as the Miracle on the Han River.
South Korea has no shortage of global icons, from politicians such as Ban Ki-moon, to all seven members of K-pop group BTS. To this writer, however, no Korean star shines brighter than Son Heung-min, footballer and captain of Tottenham Hotspur and the South Korea national team.
Finally, there’s food, yet another area where South Korea has a lot to boast about. From staples such as kimchi, a fermented vegetable dish, to showstoppers like Bibimbap, a bowl of rice topped with a variety of vegetables and a fried egg, and unique dining experiences like Korean barbecue, where diners grill their own meat at the table, there’s no shortage of delicious food on offer.
Hungry for more South Korea info?
We’ve got you covered! So far we’ve talked about the big picture, but our talent wiki page contains all the nitty gritty information you need to make your South Korea hiring plans an astronomical success. Click the link for details on statutory leave, public holidays, talent sourcing locations, and much, much more!
- Taxes: Employers must contribute between 10.67% and 29.17%, consisting of:
- National Pension 4.5%
- National Health Insurance 3.924%
- Employment Insurance 1.15% – 1.75%
- Worker Accident Compensation Insurance 0.7%-18.6%
- Employee benefits:
- Health Insurance
- Accident Compensation
- Visa requirements:
- There are three categories of work visas that foreign employees can apply for when choosing to work in South Korea: Professional Visa, Non-Professional Visa, Business Visa.
Make international employment possible with Multiplier
And that’s the lowdown on hiring in South Korea. Now you’ve heard the benefits, make your dreams a reality with Multiplier. We’re here to help businesses boost their productivity with exceptional global talent, whether from South Korea or anywhere else!
Our presence in over 100 countries worldwide showcases the breadth of expertise we possess. Multiplier is a one-stop solution for all your global hiring needs, so why not talk to our experts and book a demo today?