Published on Mar 25, 2019

by Marcos Dinnerstein

Summary: Essential information for doing business in South Korea, including why you should translate your business card into Korean and proper Korean business etiquette. 

If you hope to be successful doing business in South Korea you’ll need to understand and abide by the cultural norms in that country. There are right and wrong ways to interact with people. You’ll maximize your chances of having a successful trip if you do your homework ahead of time.

When first meeting someone, how do you behave? What role does social status play in an interaction? The answer to these questions can make or break a meeting. Let’s look at what you need to know before we take a closer look at business cards.

Age and Status

Social interactions in Korea are determined by status. Understanding where someone is in the hierarchy is important. Status is defined by your role in an organization, what organization you work for, the university attended and your marital status. (Hey! We didn’t make these rules.)


Family names, usually one syllable, are listed first and given names, usually, two syllables, are listed second. Example: Kim (family or surname), Jong-un (given name)

As you’ll see below, there are many areas that require westerners to set aside their existing ways of doing business and operate under a different set of rules. Other topics on you need to well versed in are:

  • Gift Giving
  • Greetings and Bowing
  • Relationship Building
  • How to Dress
  • Gender Equality (or not)
  • Negotiation Style
  • Geopolitical Topics
  • Preserving Face
  • The Role of Dining
You can read about this in greater detail in Conducting Business In Korea

Korean Language Business Cards
And now to the topic that we are most concerned with today: the role that business cards play in Korean business culture. When traveling in Korea you must have a bilingual business card - English on one side and Korean on the other. How do you use them? When meeting someone:

  • Remove your card from the case
  • With the Korean language side up, and oriented to be easily read
  • Pass the card with two hands
    • If your status is junior you will pass the card under the other card
    • If you status is senior you will pass the card over the other card
    • If your status is equal you will pass your card at the same height as the other card
  • Once you have their card in your two hands you look at it thoughtfully to show respect
  • If you are sitting down together place it on the table where you’ll be sitting
  • If you aren’t going to sit together then place it in your card case. This shows respect.
Some Don’ts
  • Do not stuff it into a pocket in your pants or jacket.
  • Do not write on a Korean business card. You don’t (or at least you shouldn’t) write on someone’s fact
Here’s an excellent explainer video: 

MotaWord makes it simple and convenient for you to create your Korean language business card or one in any other language for that matter. Order your business card by:

Typing the information from your card into MotaWord. Typically this will be your

  • Company Name
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Title
  • Street Address
  • Telephone Number/s
  • Email
  • Company URL
  • Company Tagline
We also accept documents in a variety of file formats. For a complete list of the file formats MotaWord accepts go here.
Do you have your trip to Korea planned? Get your Korean language business card taken care of today. Click this link to get an instant quote.

And in case you need to be convinced of the value of translating your content into Korean, read this article.

We will return a translation for your Korean language business card to you, often in minutes.