Korea’s luxury goods market is worth GBP 8.6bn. The country is the fourth fastest growing luxury goods market in the world behind India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Wealthy women in their 40s to 60s have been the traditional core market for luxury brands in Korea but, recently, both men and women in their 20s and 30s have emerged as a new demographic for luxury retailers. The most important channel for luxury products in Korea is the major department store chains — Lotte, Shinsegae, and Hyundai – which together account for three quarters of all luxury sales.

Impact of the EU-Korea FTA

Implemented in July 2011, the EU-Korea FTA will lead to the removal of 97% of all tariffs for UK exporters. The FTA contains provisions on services, public procurement, intellectual property (IP) and sustainable development as well as the liberalization of goods tariffs. The FTA has ushered in enhanced protection for IP rights and improved copyright regulations.

Potential Opportunities

  • Wealthy consumers in Korea are looking for new, less-known luxury brands to distinguish themselves from others.
  • Chinese tourists visit Korea with the primary purpose of purchasing luxury beauty products. Thus, having a presence in Korea can also mean raising brand awareness among consumers across Asia.
  • Consumers are shifting slowly from bags and small leather goods to higher-end options like luxury jewelry. Fine jewelry and high-end timepieces, for example, are increasingly being purchased by Chinese visiting the country.

Case Study: Leading Luxury Jewelry Brand

The Brief

A leading UK-based luxury fine jewelry company appointed the BCCK to conduct a partner search of companies in the high-end jewelry market. The company was interested in identifying a local partner to help it re-enter and penetrate the Korean market successfully given the importance of the market in Asia and globally for its brand.

The Approach

The BCCK identified 10 potential partners and stakeholders in the Korean market and arranged five meetings with key decision-makers. The BCCK supported the company’s visit to Korea, providing interpretation services during the meetings.

The Outcome

Through the meetings, the company identified three companies that it was interested in working with. Before and after the meetings, the BCCK provided advice and guidance about the best ways to approach the companies. The company asked the BCCK to continue to facilitate the communication between them and the two potential partners until a deal could be reached.

Sector Specialist

Inwha Lee


Inwha Lee is a Coordinator in the BCCK’s Trade Services team. Inwha holds two bachelor’s degrees from Korea University in international studies and political science/international relations. Prior to joining the Chamber, Inwha worked at the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) assisting Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects and was also part of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea. While at the BCCK, Inwha has worked with companies in a wide range of sectors from F&B to the creative industries. Her past clients in the luxury space include David Collins Studio, Joseph Cheaney & Sons, and Lulu GuinnessLinkedIn


Some Companies Supported

For More Information

Download our one-page flyer regarding South Korea’s Luxury market here.

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