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Country Proflie: South Korea relies on global trade


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South Korea flag

Flag Facts

The blue section represents the negative cosmic forces of the yin, while the red symbolizes the opposite positive forces of the yang. Each black trigram denotes one of the four universal elements, which together express the principle of movement and harmony. White is a traditional Korean color and represents peace and purity.

Location: In eastern Asia, South Korea covers the southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. It is slightly larger than Indiana.

Language: Korean, with English also widely taught at every school level

Total Population: 51.8 million

Capital: Seoul

Government: Presidential republic

Religion: Protestant, Buddhist, Catholic; no religion (57%)

Economy: While the long-term economic impacts of the coronavirus health crisis remain unknown, the South Korean economy was expected to contract following declines in industrial production, retail sales and consumer confidence. Widespread disruptions to technology and industrial manufacturers affected the export-dependent country, which has the world’s 12th largest economy but is largely reliant on global trade. A massive government stimulus was approved in March, along with an economic rescue package, and South Korea’s parliament (as of this writing) also proposed a $6.17 billion extra budget to shore up the economy.

News note: Between late February and early March, South Korea was recording hundreds of new COVID-19 cases every day, with nearly 11,000 total cases. The country has since seen a plateauing of infections following a major testing and contact-tracing campaign to curb the outbreak. Social distancing is urged, even as the country begins to reopen restaurants and sports facilities and relax other guidelines. Many businesses require customers to wear a face mask and are conducting temperature checks.

GDP (official exchange rate): $1.54 trillion

Currency: South Korean won (conversion rate at press time: 1 KRW equals $0.00082 USD).

Franchising in South Korea: Of the nearly 5,000 franchise businesses in South Korea, almost 75 percent of them are in foodservice. The education segment is another with potential, as an American education has been the global standard for South Koreans for decades. Franchising is regulated under the Fair Transactions in Franchise Business Act and franchisors must register disclosure documents with the Korea Fair Trade Commission. Franchisors should note requiring a minimum number of store openings could affect the feasibility of expansion given the expensive nature of commercial real estate. There’s also general reluctance among franchisees to pay high fees and royalties.

Ease of doing business rank by World Bank: 5. 

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