Investment Opportunities in South Korea

Overview by

Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By South Korea
Korea is a signatory to many conventions.
UNCTAD allows you to visualize the list of conventions signed by Korea, and to download these conventions .
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Korea has been involved in no case of disagreement concerning foreign investment and up to now, bilateral disagreements have given rise to no expropriation. UNCTAD offers a database listing disagreements and the countries involved , complementary information about the evolution of settlement of international disputes concerning investment.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International court of arbitration, International chamber of commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Korea is a member of MIGA.
The MIGA website gives a detailed description of all the guarantees it proposes.

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  South Korea OECD United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 7.0 6.0 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 2.0 5.2 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 7.0 6.8 9.0 5.0
Index of Investor Protection**** 5.3 6.0 8.3 5.0

Source: Doing Business

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action. **** The Greater the Index, the Higher the Level of Investor Protection.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Acquisition of Holdings
Obligation to Declare
Acquisition of the stocks or shares of a domestic enterprise:
-Minimum initial investment to qualify as foreign investment: 50 million won;
-Foreigner's investment hold 10% or more of the total shares along with voting rights or total equity investment.


Long-term loan provided by a foreign investor:
- A firm that owns 50% or more of the total issued shares or equity investment of its foreign parent firm;
- A firm that owns 10% or more of the total issued shares or equity investment of its foreign parent firm;
- A firm of which 50% or more of its total issued shares or equity investment is owned by its foreign parent firm; or -
- A firm of which 50% or more of its total issued shares or equity investment is owned by a firm that owns 50% or more of the foreign parent firm's total issued shares or equity investment.

Competent Organization For the Declaration
Invest Korea or KOTRA trade offices in Korea
Requests For Specific Authorizations
Government's approval is required in agriculture, forestry, fishing, power generation, publishing, Telephone and other communication services, broadcasting, air transportation, coastal transportation, etc.

Click here for more info.

Find Investment Service Providers in South Korea on

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
There are several temporary solutions: Office in the president's private house, Office in the business centers, office rent in the privileged foreign investment area, etc.

Invest Korea Plaza (IKP) offers furnished office space and cutting edge conference facilities to foreign investors.

The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings

Clik here for Info on Land Acquisition by Foreigners and Foreigner's Land Acquisition Act.

Risk of Expropriation
The foreign investors have the compensation right if they are victim of expropriation.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
Tax Abatement, Exemption of Customs, Cash Grant, Location Incentive, Other supports (Renting).
Click here for more info.
Privileged Domains
Industry support service, High-tech industry business, R&D service, Manufacturing, Tourist service, Welfare facilities, etc.
Privileged Geographical Zones
Industrial complex located close to a port or an airport, making it convenient for the businesses within it to engage in foreign trade, International airport area, Distribution complex or cargo terminals, etc.

Each local government is suggesting its own projects of development by giving investment incentives like tax reduction ,etc. to foreign investors including Jeju Special Self-Government province, Incheon, Busan -Jinhae, Ulsan, Gwangyagng, etc.

Click here for the local government IR list.

Free Zones
Busan-Jinhae Free Economic Zone (BJFEZ),
Gwangyang Free Economic Zone (GFEZ),
Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ)
Organizations Which Finance
Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE), Local governments.

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Shipbuilding, Semiconductor, Automobile, Electronics (TV, Mobile phone,etc), Textile.
High Potential Sectors
Aerospace, Automobile & Auto parts, Biotechnology, Display, Environmental Industry, IT Industry, Logistics, Nano Industry, New and Renewable Energy Sources, R&D, Real Estate Development, Semiconductor, SOC, Tourism, Venture Industry.
Privatization Programs
The privatization of state-owned banks such as the Korea Development Bank and Woori Bank.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Service des marchés publics, Tenders
Asian Development Bank, Procurement Plans in Asia
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
- Postal service, Railroad, Energy, Water
- Telecommunication services
- Educational institutions
- Arms, explosives, atomic energy,
Sectors in Decline

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