Korea (South) - 9 Market Facts/Opportunities You Need to Know

Korea (South)

According to the Republic of Korea's Country Commercial Guide, the markets is ranked 7 for U.S. exports. Trade accounts for approximately 90 percent of Korean GDP. Leading industries include, but are not limited to life sciences, industrial chemicals, IT, nanotechnology, aerospace/defense, energy, environmental technology, and transportation. 

Did you know:

  • Over 99 percent of total aerospace imports into Korea are for commercial & defense aircraft and related parts and components.  Of this total, 63 percent were of U.S. origin in 2015.
  • Korea is the 10th largest cosmetics market in the world, representing nearly 2.9% of the global market. In 2015, the size of the Korean cosmetics market was estimated to be approximately USD 7.6 billion. 
  • Tourism and travel exports from South Korea have set records that have increased each year and are up 137 percent since 2004, making it a destination for U.S. exporters in  tourism
  • Korea (South) imported energy sources meeting almost 96% of its energy requirements, as the country lacks sufficient natural resources.
  • Total imports of cosmetics in 2015 increased 3.8% from the previous year, to reach USD 1.08 billion.  
  • The number of South Korean students in the United States has increased significantly in the last decade, rising by more than 40% from 51,500 students in the academic year 2001/02 to more than 72,000 in 2012/13 presenting large opportunities for education
  • South Korea represents the third-highest source of international students in the U.S. and a major market for U.S. exports of educational services. 
  • The South Korean market for air purifiers is expected to reach USD 880 million in 2016, and grow at an annual rate of five percent until 2018. 
  • Korea has developed a dependence on the U.S. for medical textiles such as wound dressing products and artificial blood vessels.

3 Things to Know About Doing Business in Korea (South)

  1. Establishing and maintaining a strong business relationship is essential. Companies should visit Korea frequently to cultivate contacts and to better understand business conditions.
  2. A local presence is essential for success.  Retain a manufacturer’s representative, distributor, name a registered trading company as an agent, or establish a branch sales office.
  3. The Commercial Service (CS) in Korea is eager to assist U.S. companies in developing the right connections/contacts through a wide range of marketing and due diligence services designed to identify and introduce potential buyers, distributors, and importers. 

The Asia-Pacific Business Outlook Conference provides a unique opportunity to meet with in-country specialists and get the most recent advice on exporting to Korea (South). Register Here.

David Gossack

David Gossack

Senior Commercial Officer, U.S. Consulate, Korea (South)

David Gossack is the Senior Commercial Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. He previously served as Senior Commercial Officer in Jakarta. Prior to that, he was Principal Commercial Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai from 2008-2011. He previously served as Commercial Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 2003-2007, in Bangkok from 1999-2002, and in Tokyo from 1995-1999. He is the recipient of numerous awards from the Department of Commerce. Read More

Korea (South) Country Commercial Guide


Asia Pacific Business Outlook

March 27 & 28, 2017 ~ Los Angeles

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Special Discount for U.S. Commercial Service Clients, enter code: USCS2017

You are invited to attend the 30th annual Asia Pacific Business Outlook Conference (APBO) at THE LA Hotel Downtown on March 27 - 28, 2017. 

APBO is a comprehensive networking and learning experience designed to provide you with the contacts and knowledge to grow and succeed.


Prepare and get informed about Pacific Rim trade, investment, and finance policies and practices that impact exports to China.

Participate in APBO 2017 to get first-hand information from the 50+ international trade experts scheduled to visit Los Angeles to discuss the new challenges and upcoming opportunities that influence business decisions, especially choices concerning Asia-Pacific economy.

Since 1988, the USC Marshall School of Business and the U.S. Commercial Service have produced APBO to help leaders of U.S. businesses access and expand their exports in the Asia-Pacific marketplace.


Access 17 Markets in Two Days: 

Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

Contacts for APBO: ciber@marshall.usc.edu or tel:  213.740.7130 www.apboconference.com

U.S. Commercial Service Contacts for One-on-One meetings

Eric Olson - U.S. Commercial Service, West LA, CA. Tel: 213.200.7172, Eric.Olson@trade.gov

Erica Ramirez - U.S. Commercial Service, Irvine, CA, Tel: 909-208-4613, Erica.Ramirez@trade.gov

For general questions, please contact your local Trade Specialist here.

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