South Korea is a historic country rumored to have been founded in 2333B.C. by the God-king Tangun (U.S. Department of State, 2006). Surrounded by China to the west, Japan to the southeast and North Korea to the north , South Korea has been at the center of war and controversy since its' early history. This conflict has served to strengthen and unify the Korean people and has given them a strong cultural identity. This strength and unity is embodied in their culture and reflected in their family values and plays an important role in their business dealings. Although they are a country of 48 million people, South Koreans consider themselves one ethnic family.
The economy of South Korea has experienced rapid change and growth since the 1960's when the government introduced sweeping currency reforms, an emphasis on exports and, centrally directed financial policies. These policies, focused on exportation, promoted their chemical industries, consumer electronics, and automobiles (U.S.
Department of State, 2006). They are currently the world's 11th largest economy and the United States 7th largest trading partner.
There are three tenets basic to Korean culture; kibun, inhwa, and, personal relationships. Kibun has no literal translation but can be best defined as "pride, face, mood, or state of mind" (Communicaid, 2004). "If you hurt someone's kibun you hurt their pride, cause them to lose dignity, and lose face" (Kwintessential, n.d.). This attitude or approach permeates every facet of Korean life. Inhwa, related to Confucius defines a harmonic approach to life. Finally, Koreans place a high value on personal relationships. These principles, as well as, the value of family and its hierarchal structure affect the Korean approach to business and their business relationships.
If kibun is the attitude that permeates Korean society, then respect...