Country Listing

South Korea Table of Contents

South Korea


Service industries included insurance, restaurants, hotels, laundries, public bath houses, health-related services, and entertainment establishments. There were thousands of small shops marketing specialized items, large traditional marketplaces, and streamlined buildings housing corporate and professional offices. Game rooms featuring Ping-Pong tables, or billiards, and tearooms serving a variety of beverages were located on almost every downtown city corner.

South Korea's Hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympics from September 18 to October 2, 1988, made 1988 a boom year for tourism. More than 2 million tourists spent US$3.3 billion, an increase in the number of tourists and the dollars spent, respectively, of 24.9 percent and 42.2 percent over 1987. Japanese visitors accounted for 48 percent of the total; tourists from the United States made up 14.9 percent. The Korean National Tourist Corporation predicted that in 1990 almost 3 million tourists would visit the country.

An improved transportation and communications infrastructure, increasing incomes, enhanced consumer sophistication, and government tax incentives encouraged the development of a modern distribution network of chain stores, supermarkets, and department stores (see Transportation and Telecommunications , this ch.).

In the mid-1980s, the largest employer of South Korea's service sector was retail trade. A growing number of workers were employed by the mostly department stores (most of which were owned by chaebol) that were opening rapidly in the downtown areas of major urban centers. The vast majority of retailers were small merchants in cities, towns, and villages, each with a modest storefront, or stand, limited stock, and poor access to capital, but the great majority of South Koreans made their purchases from these small retailers. In 1986 there were approximately 26,054 wholesale and 542,548 retail establishments and 233,834 hotels and restaurants that employed about 1.7 million people (these figures probably do not include family members working in small stores).

The distribution system was far from perfect, and managers recognized the need for better organization and management. Most of the nation's wholesalers were located in Seoul and accounted for most of the turnover of goods. Most of the sales outlets were located in the heart of urban centers. Cargo truck terminals and warehouse facilities were spread irregularly through city neighborhoods.

Data as of June 1990