South Korea – A High-Tech Economy and a Cultural Powerhouse

February 14 2024

Faces and Markets of PRGN is a new series of blog posts in 2024 that puts PRGN member agencies and their markets in the spotlight.

Each week, expect to read about a market from an economic, business and communications point of view, brought to you by the very people living and working on the ground in that country, state or region.

The blog pieces illustrate the vast amount of in-depth knowledge of business, media, communications and marketing PRGN brings together having presence in more than 40 countries and 70 cities on six continents through its member agencies globally.

In this week’s blog post, Grace Haekyung Son, managing director of PR House in Seoul, describes the business and communications environment in South Korea and offers advice on navigating her home market.

Business environment in South Korea

Korea is the world’s 13th largest economy. It is a business hub of innovation and economic vitality, with several thriving sectors such as technology, consumers products, luxury goods, K-contents, travelling, and many more.

1. Korea is a hi-tech economy

Korea is a world leader in electronics manufacturing, shipbuilding, steel, and automotive.

The industries targeted by the Korean Government include healthcare, industrial chemicals, information technology (IT) components, semiconductor manufacturing, aerospace and defense, energy, environmental technology, and transportation

2. High demand for luxury goods

The high demand for luxury goods in Korea is driven by an increase in purchasing power as well as a youth-inspired culture that emphasizes external appearance and personal grooming.

3. A cultural powerhouse

Over the years, Korea has become a cultural powerhouse and a source of K-pop, K-drama, K-movie and many more new genres.

4. Gen-Z

Many South Koreans in their 20s and 30s have travelled internationally and have substantial disposable income.

Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea | Photo by

Communications, media and PR market in South Korea

While digital media is prevalent, traditional media still holds influence in Korea. Building relationships with local journalists, understanding the media landscape, and crafting tailored press releases can help secure media coverage.

In South Korea, like other countries, social media has come into the spotlight. Naver is an influential local search engine, similar to Google in the global market. Its market share reaches more than 80% among the Korean population. Blogs on Naver, YouTube and Instagram are popular social media channels communicators better watch.

South Korea is also intensely loyal to homegrown Korean social media sites such as KakaoTalk (a free mobile instant messaging app), KakaoStory (a social network platform launched by Kakao, a South Korean internet company) and Naver Band (a private group sharing app).

94.2% of South Korean internet users are active on KaKaoTalk, which is one of the top social media platforms by the number of active users.

Key expertise of PR House in South Korea

  • Consumer products
  • Healthcare
  • IT
  • Tourism/Travel

Top 3 advice for foreign companies navigating the communications environment in South Korea

1. Cultural Sensitivity:

Korea has its own unique cultural norms and values. It’s crucial for foreign companies to be culturally sensitive and understand the local customs, etiquette, and business practices.

2. Language:

While English is widely used in business, especially in larger companies, using Korean can enhance communication and build stronger relationships. Translating marketing materials, websites, and communications into Korean demonstrates a commitment to engaging with the local audience.

3. Social Media Presence:

Leverage popular local social media platforms such as KakaoTalk, Naver, and local blogging sites. Engaging with the audience on these platforms can enhance visibility and credibility. Consider creating content that aligns with local trends and interests.

Most influential media for consumer communication in South Korea

  • General media exposure on Naver
  • Blog on Naver
  • Youtube
  • Instagram 
  • Kakaotalk

Most influential media for corporate communications in South Korea

  • General media exposure on Naver
  • Blog on Naver
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Kakaotalk

Most popular social media channels in South Korea

Kakao: About 47.8 million South Koreans are active users of KakaoTalk. 90% of South Koreans use Kakao. The number of active users of KakaoTalk stayed consistent.

Youtube: Youtube has 45.5 million South Korean users. YouTube is one of the beloved apps in Korea, now dominates domestic shopping and music markets.

Instagram: There are about 21.2 million Instagram users in South Korea. Male users account for about 45.18% and female users for about 54.8%.

Facebook: The number of Facebook users have decreased and dropped recently to about 20.6 million. It continues to lose popularity year-by-year.

X (formerly Twitter): Twitter has 7.2 million users in South Korea.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has 3.5 million users in South Korea.

Most important international events in South Korea

March: Summit for Democracy 

The third Summit for Democracy is scheduled to take place in March 2024 in Seoul. The theme will be ‘Democracy for Future Generations’. The three-day Summit will feature a range of activities, including a Cohorts, Civil Society and Youth Engagement Day.


AI EXPO KOREA is the best-fit B2B marketing solutions expo for enterprises. Visitors can experience the AI ecosystem of Korea in one place. 

September: WSCE2024 (World Smart City Expo) 

The World Smart City Expo is a platform for technology exchange that brings together smart city leaders from around the globe to create better cities 

October: 2024 World Volunteer Conference

Since 1970, IAVE has worked with local partners to organize more than two dozen international volunteer conferences across the globe. Volunteers, nonprofits, corporations, and government agencies all come together to strengthen relationships, learn from thought leaders, share best practices, and be energized by how volunteer efforts are improving communities around the world.

South Korea in Numbers*

Population 51 million
Languages spoken Korean, English
Religions (% of population): Protestant 19.7%, Buddhist 15.5%, Catholic 7.9%
GDP per capita (in USD): $44,200 (2021 est.)
(Real) GDP growth rate: 4.15% (2021 est.)
Inflation rate: 2.5% (2021 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.53% (2021 est.)
Key sectors and industries (% of GDP) agriculture: 2.2%, industry: 39.3%, services: 58.3% (2017 est.)
Mobile penetration (per 100 people) 141 (2021 est.)
Internet users (% of population) 98% (2021 est.)
Corporate profit tax: 26.5%
Consumer tax or VAT: 10%
Grace Haekyung Son
Managing Director, PR House

Grace provides strategic direction and manages PR activities for global and local organizations. She focuses on understanding client requirements and constantly works on building media relations for them to improve communications with the public. She has spent more than 27 years in the communications industry and has played an integral role in implementing PR programs that achieve clients’ goals.

With the aim to offer services in public relations, reputation management, digital marketing and public affairs among others, in 2010 Grace established PR House, a full-service public relations firm headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, serving many of the world’s largest companies and organizations. PR House utilizes its broad range of integrated services across multiple industries – consumer marketing, corporate communications, digital media strategies, public affairs, government relations, technology and healthcare.

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