South Korea is a major player in the global automotive industry and is the third largest automobile market in East Asia. The country’s total domestic auto production reached around 4.5m units in 2013, with passenger cars accounting for 91% of production. Imported cars make up 12% of the car market and are almost exclusively luxury passenger vehicles. South Korea is also the world’s fifth-largest auto parts manufacturer, following China, Japan, the US, and Germany. Major auto parts manufactured by Korean companies include brake and steering systems, airsuspension systems and chassis modules.

Impact of the EU-Korea FTA

Implemented in July 2011, the EU-Korea FTA has positively affected bi-lateral trade in automobiles and auto parts, resulting in the removal of 97% of tariffs and all import levies on automotive items and auto parts. South Korea is now the top importer to the EU in terms of automobile units, and exported around 381,000 units to the EU in 2011. Over the same period, South Korea imported some 80,000 European passenger luxury cars. Increasing demand among Korean consumers for foreign cars is expected to increase the number of imported cars to the country.

Potential Opportunities

  • South Korea aims to operate one million electric cars by 2020 and plans to invest GBP 3.4bn in infrastructure, including recharging stations

  • South Korea is at the cutting edge of 5G infrastructure and major South Korean car companies are looking for new IOT technologies to integrate into their cars

  • South Korean tier 1 and tier 2 auto parts manufacturers require new technologies in the fields of factory automation and assembly line quality control as they expand overseas and compete with global manufacturers

Case Study: Leading Interoperability Testing Services Provider

The Brief

A UK-based interoperability testing services provider appointed the BCCK to oversee the process of establishing a legal entity in the Korean market. The company understood that to develop a long-term and sustainable business in Korea, it needed a local presence to provide timely support to customers.

The Approach

The BCCK’s transparent and streamlined approach to entity setup allowed the company to quickly and painlessly establish a legal entity within three months. Over this period, we provided the company with advice and assistance on choosing the right type of legal entity; provided consultation for office leasing and visa issuance; identified reputable accounting/legal/banking partners; and ensured that all aspects of the entity setup process complied with Korean regulations.

The Outcome

The BCCK helped the company to successfully establish a local entity in Seoul, to better support their local customers. Our transparent on-the-ground assistance allowed the company to quickly and easily establish a legal entity in Korea.

Sector Specialist

Taewon Um
Director, Trade Services

Taewon Um is the Director of the BCCK’s Trade Services team. Taewon has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the BCCK, Taewon worked with a Korean government body to attract FDI and helped sign deals with major international healthcare institutions. Taewon also worked at the World Bank and the Embassy of Korea in Washington DC. Whilst at the BCCK, Taewon has worked with companies across a broad range of sectors including financial services and industrial materials amongst others. His past clients in the automotive space include NextGen Technology.  LinkedIn



“We made excellent progress with the BCCK to set up our Korean subsidiary company securely and in record time.  This would not have been possible without the efforts of their team on the ground. Their preparation and professionalism was reflected in all aspects of the process.”

– Sarah Goodhew, Director, Sales and Business Operations, NextGen Technology

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