Since South Korea's economic disaster of 1997, mid 2002 sees South Korea as fully recovered and indeed booming to become one of Asia's glamour consumer markets right now. South Korea is home to some of the world's best known electronics and computer-related companies. Indeed, Seoul is the most wired city in the world
Part of the Korean latter resilience is due to it's entrepreneurial nature and export dominated economy. In the late 1990's vigorous Western import demand and a lower Won pulled South Korea from the threatening economic abyss, and the early 2000's has seen good import demand from other Asian economies softening the blow of the global slowdown.
With agriculture now accounting for less than 10% of GDP, Korea was one of the first industrialised Asian economies with key industries in electronics, automobile and chemical manufacturing, shipbuilding, and steel production. Japan and the US, followed by the European Union are the three major trading partners.
Unlike much of the rest of Asia South Korea is characterised by a suspicion of Western brands. Some multi-nationals have bee forced to rebrand their brand-names into Korean while in other countries a foreign brand name is often an advantage.
With a population of almost 50,000,000, a high standard of living and relatively little poverty, Korea nevetheless represents a major middle class consumer market. South Koreans are sophisticated and intelligent consumers - they are neither slaves to brands nor brand-agnostic, apart from the independent streak mentioned earlier. Status remains a prime purchase motivator.
There are some other interesting differences between the Korean background and character and other Asian countries which may account for their fierce independence. Some of this can be traced to history as a former colony of Japan. However, apart from the Philippines, Korea has the highest proportion of Christians of any other Asian country, with Buddhists and Christians accounting for around 48% each of the religious breakdown. Korea, together with Japan, is also the most ethnically homogeneous in the region. There are a very small proportion of ethnic Chinese. Like Japan and for similar reasons, South Koreans have not worried too much about adopting the standard accepted business language of English. There are wide variations through all social classes and levels of English competence. Many business people speak English perfectly, many speak Korean exclusively.
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