Translated's Research Center

South Korea

Asia

To localize in South Korea

What we know from our community

Korean is the one and only language spoken on the Korean peninsula. Although the dialects and vocabularies of the North and the South differ, both countries share the same language and people from the two sides can communicate without any problem. Within South Korea, there are regional dialects but the dialect spoken in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province is considered the “Standard Language.”

One important thing to note when you consider localizing your content into Korean is that the language is significantly different from English, both in terms of syntax (word order) and rhetoric.  A standard Korean sentence has the word order of “subject – object – verb or predicate”; while the order of subject and object is flexible, the verb/predicate must always come at the end of a sentence in Korean. The Korean language is sensitive in politeness and there are 4-7 degrees of politeness expressed through the language. Therefore it is very important to set the right level of politeness and tone in the localized content. “Informal” level of politeness is reserved for close friends or people lower in the social hierarchy in relation to the speaker; therefore, if the content is for the general public, it should always be written in a formal and polite way, even if the tone is casual and friendly.

Now, if you need others information about that country to make your decision, below you can find a selection of economic/social/cultural data

Introduction


Language

Official language
Korean

T-index
1.7%

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.

Other languages
English, Japanese, Chinese

English
Moderate proficiency (EF) – 32 of 100 countries/regions in the world- 4/24 position in Asia.

Demography

Capital: Seoul
Currency: South Korean won
Population: 52.06m
Population density: 503/km2

Economy

GDP: 1 646.74 billion USD (2019)
GDP per capita: 31.846,22 USD ‎(2019) ‎
Exports: $555 billion (2019)

Statistics

Internet users: 78% penetration, 35.9million
Unemployment rate: 10.9% (2020)
Urbanisation: 91.99% (2020)
Literacy: 99.13 % (2019)

Conventions

Numbering system
Arabic numbering system and point as decimal separator

Date format: yyyy-mm-dd
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 0082


Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal


Facts and data


Economy

Imports
$485 billion (2019). CrudePetroleum ($67.4B), IntegratedCircuits ($34.3B, Petroleum Gas ($21.8B), Refined Petroleum ($18.4B), and Coal Briquettes ($11.8B). Partners: China ($108B), UnitedStates ($57.6B), Japan ($44.9B), Vietnam ($20.3B), and Saudi Arabia ($19.5B).

Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of  age)
• 95% have an account with a financial institution
• 64% have a credit card
• 76% make online purchases

Ease of doing business
It is very easy to conduct business (rated 84 out of 100) 4th out of 20 Asia Pacific countries 5th worldwide out of 190 countries (2019, World Bank).

Exports
$555 billion (2019). Integrated Circuits ($85.2B), Cars ($40.8B), Refined Petroleum ($38.9B), Vehicle Parts ($18.5B), and Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.1B). Partners: China ($136B), UnitedStates ($74.8B), Vietnam ($47.8B), Hong Kong ($31.6B), and Japan ($28.3B).

Main local online stores
Coupang, 11th Street, Interpark Global, G-market, Kurly Market.

Economic freedom
‘Mostly free’ (72.3 out of 100) 8th out of 45 countries in Asia Pacific 29th worldwide out of 186 countries (2019, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal)

Global Innovation Index

Ranked 1st out of South East Asian, East
Asian, and Oceanian countries, 5th out of 132 worldwide.

The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.


Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal


Service Imports (2018)

Source: OEC


Service Exports (2018)

Source: OEC


Most Complex Products by PCI

Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters

Source: OEC


Most Specialized Products by RCA Index

Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between South Korea observed and expected exports in each product

Source: OEC


Export Opportunities by Relatedness

Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that South Korea is not specialized in

Source: OEC


Preferred payment services in South Korea in 2017

Source: Bank of Korea


Most commonly used mobile payment providers in South Korea in 2019

Source: Opensurvey


Media

Media language Korean, English

Information channels
TV is influential and the major terrestrial networks, including market leaders KBS and MBC, command the biggest audiences. Most South Koreans subscribe to digital cable, satellite or Internet Protocol TV (IPTV). South Korean TV soaps are popular across the region, including in China. They are part of the Korean Wave – the export of South Korean popular culture across Asia. Newspaper readership is high and there are more than 100 national and local dailies. The press is often critical of the government. Many newspapers are controlled by industrial conglomerates. A defamation law that provides for prison sentences prompts self-censorship, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF). A security law banning content deemed favourable to North Korea and is one of the main grounds for online censorship, the group says. South Korea is a trailblazer for high-speed and wireless internet. More than 88% of internet users are connected to a messenger service. Local platform KakaoTalk is hugely popular. Online gaming is a national passion.

The press

Chosun Ilbo – English-language pages
Dong-a Ilbo – English-language pages
The Korea Times – English-language
The Korea Herald – English-language
Hangyore Sinmun – English-language pages
JoongAng Ilbo – English-language pages
Hankook Ilbo – daily
Korea Economic – Daily
Munhwa Ilbo – daily
Segye Ilbo – daily

Television

Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) – public
Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) – public
Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) – private
Education Broadcasting System (EBS) – public Jeonju Television Corporation (JTV) – private

Radio

Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) – public
KBS World Radio – external, multilingualRadio Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation – public, operates MBC Radio and music-based MBC FM
Seoul Broadcasting System – operates SBS-FM
Christian Broadcasting System (CBS)
Buddhist Broadcasting System (BBS)
tbs eFM
– Seoul, English-language

News agency

Yonhap News Agency – English-language pages


Media data source: BBC


Internet Data

Internet users
96% penetration, 49.21 million

Share of web traffic by device
48.9% mobile phones, 50.4% computers (laptops and desktops), 0.7% tablet devices

Average speed of mobile Internet connection
103.18 Mbps

Average speed of fixed Internet connection
144.41 Mbps

Mobile connection as a percentage of total population: 118%

Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 100%

Most popular web search engines
Google (76.56%), Never (17.51%), Bing (2.03%), Yahoo (1.86%) Daum (1.13%), Baidu (0.39%)

Most used social media
Twitter (52.06%), Facebook (32.19%), Youtube (6.16%), Pinterest (5.97%), Instagram (2.6%),  Tumblr (0.49%)


Internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter


Social statistics

Life expectancy
76.52 yrs (2020)

Healthcare expenditure
8.1% of GDP

Average age of the population
43.7 yrs (2020)

Glass Ceiling Index

24.8 out 100, ranked 29th out of 29 countries

The glass-ceiling index measures the environment for working women combining data on higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications, and representation in senior jobs.


Social statistics sources: WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF


The Data Factbook is a work in progress project. Our community is helping us to fill it up always with new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write your advices at imminent@translated.com


Languages research


Korean dialects

Legend

  • Seoul Korean

  • Gangwon Korean

  • Chungcheong Korean

  • Jeolla Korean

  • Gyeongsang Korean

  • Jeju Korean


The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to imminent.factbook@translated.com


Photo credit: Jet Dela Cruz, Unsplash