Foreign execs aren’t fans of doing business here

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Foreign execs aren’t fans of doing business here

Foreign executives have complaints about doing business in Korea, but most are pleased with their lifestyles here, according to a new survey.

Only three out of 10 foreign executives in Korea said they were satisfied with the Korean business environment, but six out of 10 said they were content with the country’s living conditions, according to the survey from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra).

The state-funded trade organization surveyed more than 300 foreign executives working in Korea last year. Kotra has been running the survey since 2009.

The results showed that 27.3 percent of respondents were satisfied with the country’s business environment - a slight increase of 1.9 percentage points compared to 2015.

Labor problems they cited were the high wages of Korean workers (30.2 percent) and the difficulty of finding suitable staff (26 percent).

Executives also complained of complex paperwork required in the banking and public service sectors. Thirty percent said that complications in raising capital were the biggest concern at banks. Tax investigations taking too long or requiring too many documents bothered 31.5 percent of the executives, 14.2 percentage points higher than in 2016.

The survey also asked the executives to rate their living conditions in Korea. A total of 62.7 percent said they were satisfied, up 0.5 percentage points from two years ago. Residences, mobile communication services and public transit were the best aspects of Korea for the executives, and 60 percent of respondents said they were satisfied in those areas.

Korean’s English skills were less of a problem for the executives than in years past. Executives who complained about English skills went down from 2013’s 33 percent to 9.3 percent in this year’s survey. English service offered at administrative offices improved in their view as well, and respondents who said language was an issue fell to 11.9 percent from 2013’s 42 percent.

But survey results showed that fluent English speakers and information provided in English did not satisfy foreigners’ needs at the bank, the phone shop and out on the town.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said they found it hard to use cultural venues due to difficulties in communication. Insufficient explanations about how to set up a mobile phone annoyed 31.7 percent of the executives, and 40.5 percent said it was hard to talk to the staff at credit card companies.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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