South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to London at the end of 2023 has generated a lot of interest among UK tech scaleups in the rapidly growing Korean market. The UK-APAC Tech Growth Programme, a government-sponsored initiative, is providing support to British scaleups to venture into the Korean market. This is a great opportunity for UK tech companies to expand their business in South Korea, which is currently one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
South Korea is a hub for innovation and technology, with many global leading electronics and IT companies such as Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, LG Electronics, Naver, KT Corporation, Daum Kakao, Coupang, Woowa Brothers, Celltrion, NCSoft, Bluehole, CJ ENM, Hancom, Lotte Data Communication, and HYBE 1. The Korean government is investing $470 billion in a semiconductor “mega cluster” outside of Seoul to become a global leader in chip production 2. The government aims to centralize and vastly expand its semiconductor production, increase self-sufficiency in essential materials, parts, and equipment for chip production to 50% by 2030, and increase its share of other chips and processors 2. This move comes as the US-China rivalry complicates supply chains. South Korea currently dominates the production of DRAM and NAND memory chips, which are used for managing and storing data on devices on PCs, smartphones, and SD cards, holding a global market share of over 60% 1. Samsung also seeks to overtake the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) leading position producing wafers, which are thin disks made up of semiconducting material, mainly silicon, that act as the first layer in creating semiconductor components. The Taiwanese are the global market leader in the foundry business with the contract manufacturing of processors for other companies 1.
The Korean market is fueled by a tech-savvy population, consistently strong government support, and a thriving innovation ecosystem 1. With the right products, UK tech scaleups will find a vibrant business ecosystem full of commercial opportunities in South Korea. The UK and South Korea have a strong relationship, with trade between the two countries already worth more than £16 billion annually 1. South Korea’s import market is projected to grow a further 45% by 2035, making it an increasingly important market for UK businesses 1. The UK is negotiating an upgraded Free Trade Agreement, including a chapter on digital goods and services, to give UK tech companies even greater access to commercial opportunities in South Korea 1.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to London has opened up new opportunities for UK tech scaleups to venture into the rapidly growing Korean market. With the support of the government-sponsored UK-APAC Tech Growth Programme, British scaleups are in a strong position to expand their business in South Korea. The Korean market is fueled by a tech-savvy population, consistently strong government support, and a thriving innovation ecosystem. With the right products, UK tech scaleups will find a vibrant business ecosystem full of commercial opportunities in South Korea.