Seoul, Korea's capital city is a contemporary, flourishing metropolis jam-packed with all the latest sophistications in technology. Korea is a home to first class telecommunications, first class hotels, modern subways, and imaginative architecture. In spite all these modern technology, Korea in some areas has remained to be very traditional. With that in mind, any American who's planning business ventures in Korea should not mistake Seoul for Los Angeles (despite the latter, as a matter of fact, has a significant Korean population). As Korea gets more modern and sophisticated, it is important to note that modern is not tantamount to western.
In spite of the Koreans' transition into Western culture, a great majority is still traditional in terms of thinking. One perfect example would be the Koreans' great respect for hierarchy and how much they value the family. Let's take a closer look into the Korean family. The primary earners of Korean families are the fathers, while mothers stay at home to take care of the day-to-day consumption matters of ones household. This however, has changed rapidly these days, mainly due to the economic pressures and changes in social mores. The traditional structure of the family roles, as should be taken into consideration by US companies if they have plans in pursuing the Korean market.
Business in Korea is highly personal, then, Americans should be aware that sometimes the relationships between business and your personal life are not easy to be kept separately. Koreans prefer to transact business with people they have had created a personal connection with. One thing Americans should be sensitive when doing business in Korea is the Korean sensitive approach to things that have historical link with Japan. Koreans sometimes, have an inherent emotional reaction to anything Japanese: Japan as we know, has made the Korean foreland its virtual colony.
Koreans are very particular with negotiating. To show off an uncompromising negotiating attitude during negotiations may work to the US Company's disadvantage. Another important point, one must remember, is that Koreans have a different way of sealing a deal. While Westerners put great value to written contracts, Koreans on the contradiction, consider contracts as a written documentation of a general agreement that enumerates what has been agreed upon, leaving enough room for flexibility.
Probably one of the Koreans' greatest characteristics is their highly patriotic nature. This is related to the Confucian ethics that emphasize strong group ties. Therefore, business must consider and accentuate the group, company, and country benefits during negotiations.