Finding a manufacturer or supplier in South Korea is not an easy task, but there are a number of methods that make the job easier even if you do not know the Korean language.
The list below includes a number of methods for finding and sourcing suppliers and manufacturers in South Korea and with proper use can yield a good results. Before starting, we recommend to decide and define the type of partner, whether a manufacturer or a wholesale supplier, as well as a list of products key words. The names of the products may be different from country to country, so it is advisable to check if there are other names for the same type of product. For example, USB flash drive is called Pendrive or Disk On Key in different countries and in Korea, in most cases can be found under the term USB drive.
In most cases, Google.com (the English-Global version) will usually do a good job in search so we recommend starting with this method. However, it should be taken into account that Google will only show sites that match the search terms. That is, wholesaler suppliers and manufacturers who do not specify these search terms in their sites will not appear in search results. It is also important to note that even today many South Korean suppliers and manufacturers still run very outdated websites that are inaccessible to search engines. For example, in Korean websites it is very common for texts to be displayed as an image in order to ensure the same display in every browser and device, but due to this, search engines are not able to crawl and read these sites.
There are a number of online directories that serve as a sort of index to various wholesaler suppliers and manufacturers from different countries, including South Korea, for example kompass.com. The information found on these directories may include website address and email address of the suppliers or manufacturers. Please note, that searching by Google for a specific products many times provide results from these B2B Directories just because they are more "friendly" to search engines. It is advisable to be careful with the information that appears on these directories as in most cases it is not verified info. For example, suppliers or traders are presented as manufacturers. In addition, contact information is out of date in some cases. But the main problem with B2B Directories in the context of South Korea is that there are not enough listed companies. That means the selection of suppliers or manufacturers is very poor.
Unlike China, South Korea has no active and solid online platform for manufacturers such as Alibaba. However, with a smart usage of various local Korean Marketplaces, it is possible to identify and locate relevant manufacturers and suppliers. We recommend checking out Gmarket English which also has mobile app. Please note that Marketplaces are mainly focused on consumer products and therefore no industrial products or raw materials can be found. One of the main problems in Marketplaces is that it is difficult to identify the seller type - wholesale supplier, trader or manufacturer. In addition, the contact information that appears on the product pages does not always help, as inquiries will not be answered in English or in the context of international trade.
CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
In most countries there is at least one Chamber of Commerce that maintains business relations with South Korea. In some of these chambers it is possible to get assistance in locating suppliers and manufacturers in South Korea, for a fee or for free. Sometimes these chambers receive direct inquiries from Korean manufacturers and suppliers, so it's worth checking for such inquiries. Be aware that chambers of commerce operate base on annual membership fees and inquiries for finding suppliers or manufacturers are not their main focus or main area of expertise. Also if they do share a list of Korean manufacturers or suppliers, there will be a preference for listing and promoting those who pay membership fees and not necessarily the most appropriate suppliers or manufacturers.
If Facebook is the largest and most popular social network service, then LinkedIn is the most active online business network today. On LinkedIn there are groups in different fields according to types of interest, products, technologies and geographical area like South Korea. By using LinkedIn you can get recommendations and referrals from other users regarding manufacturers and suppliers in South Korea, but less so in locating the manufacturers / suppliers directly. The main reason for this is that it is true that LinkedIn is not a popular network in South Korea and most Korean companies are not registered there.
TRADE SHOWS & EXHIBITIONS
This is one of the oldest and best methods for locating a manufacturer or supplier in South Korea as face-to-face meeting is a proven method for creating long-term business relationships. If you are not interested or unable to participate in such trade show or exhibition, it is still possible to gain access to the list of participants. Some of the trade shows and exhibitions organizers provide a digital catalog of the participants including their contact details. This catalog can be found on the exhibition website. In South Korea the exhibitions are held in a number of cities and venues, but the main one is COEX in Seoul and it is recommended to check the exhibitions that take place there by visiting COEX website. This method also has limitations since even though you have managed to obtain a catalog with contact information, most suppliers / manufacturers are still not in it.
We recommend combining the above search methods and even using them to validate and filter out unsuitable candidates. In South Korea there are thousands of manufacturers and suppliers, small and large, and therefore we recommend investing resources in locating the most suitable suppliers and manufacturers. Sometimes what matters is the price but in many cases the reliability and quality of the products is a top priority. if you need a loca support by professional team to help you source and identify the right supplier feel free to contact us. We helped hundreds of clients so far and we will happy to help you as well.