The 2018 Olympics in Korea: business opportunities ahead

2018 has just begun but we are already looking forward to the upcoming Winter Olympic games, which will be hosted in South Korea this year. Given the magnitude of this event, which brings 200 countries together, this is a great opportunity for many enterprises to realize profit. However, as you can imagine, such a multicultural environment imposes serious linguistic challenges. Since Korean will be one of the three official languages in this year’s Olympics, it is worth getting to know more about the language and the country’s history, to find out what’s the best way of using it to your business’ advantage.

The Korean language

Korean is spoken worldwide by a total of 80 million people, which makes it the 17th most common native language in the world. The Korean alphabet carries meaning beyond the conventional linguistic one, since the symbols can represent earth, heaven, humanity, etc. That, however, makes the translation from Korean to Western languages even more challenging, since the translators need to be aware of the possible indirect meanings of the symbols. To make the process easier during the Games, translation apps have been developed, such as Genie Talk, which will translate from and to Korean, English, Japanese, Spanish and other languages.

A bit of history 

The last time the Olympics were held in Korea was in 1988, when the country was suffering from internal conflicts, recovering from a coup and struggling economically. Today, South Korea is one of the world’s fastest-growing export-orientated economies, owning the 3rd largest banking market in Asia and a strong track record in innovation. By hosting the Olympics, South Korea will have the chance to further enhance its economic relations and partnerships with overseas companies, which would benefit both the local and international investors and businesses.

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Challenges ahead

olympics in koreaHowever, there are several challenges facing the host, which could have direct implications for its future business relations. While the Olympics can be a chance for South Korea to further establish its influence on the foreign as a strong economic force, they have also brought up a concern about its controversial relationship with the Northern part of the country. The tensions between South and North Korea have had an impact on the negotiations regarding the participation of a joint North-South team in the Olympics- an idea that was quickly rebuffed. However, it appears as if the North is not willing to repeat history from 1988 and be excluded from the Games again. Therefore, this event would be a good opportunity for the two rivals to make an attempt to straighten their relations and reach a compromise through conversation and goodwill.

Business opportunities

If you are a business owner looking to expand to the Asian markets, this could be your chance to establish strong relations within the Korean market. Whether a business is operating within the financial, health care, creative, or design market, there is an opportunity for profit and collaboration on every institutional level. The barriers for entering the Korean markets have been decreased with the relaxation of control on cross-ownership of financial services, and, while the banking market has seen intense competition in recent years, the demand from Korean consumers for innovative, high-quality goods is enough of a reason to explore the opportunities for expansion. That being said, the challenge of dealing with the Korean language remains- its translation being a laborious task which not many can complete in a satisfactory way. This is why the services of translation experts are required, especially during events such as the Olympics, when cultures and languages meet to interact, exchange experience, and ideas. After establishing an initial conversation, it is important to know how to approach potential business partners from foreign markets- that’s where the services of 1-StopAsia’s professional linguists can be of help. Entrusting your business correspondence to professionals will give you the chance to better understand the culture and ideology of your associates and to focus on how your business model can best be integrated within the new markets.

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The Winter Olympics will be a chance for Korea to unite under the influence of hundreds of cultures, coming together to celebrate exceptional human achievements. A common goal can be enough to unite many nations, but it is language that can truly bind people together, even if it is only for a moment in time. This idea can easily be transferred into the business world, serving as an inspiration for everyone looking to expand to foreign markets but intimidated by the cultural and linguistic barriers. Through translation, research, and a well-planned localization strategy, your integration within the Korean or any other foreign market can win your company the Olympic gold.