Kiwi businesses of various sizes are succeeding in South Korea’s competitive market. One notable success is the introduction of a luge site in 2017 by New Zealander James Thomas. Despite the emergence of 17 imitation sites since then, Thomas’s venture remains a hit.
The city of Busan showcases a slice of New Zealand, with popular Kiwi products like Cookie Time cookies and Whittaker’s Chocolate on sale. This location offers safer luge trails compared to those in places like Queenstown. James Thomas highlights that the Korean audience appreciates being in control, making the luge ride ideal.
Korea, New Zealand’s fifth-largest trading partner, witnessed a trade increase of 57% in the year leading to March 2023. Among the thriving Kiwi businesses in Korea is All Good Oat Milk, which has been outperforming expectations. Almost three million servings of oat milk have been sold in its first year, responding to the lactose intolerance experienced by many South Koreans.
A popular gathering spot for the estimated 4,000 Kiwis in Seoul is Bonny’s Pizza Pub, run by Malcolm Luke, who initially came to Korea as an English language teacher. The establishment serves as both a social hub and a representation of New Zealand to the Korean youth.
Tony Garrett, the chair of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Korea, believes that while the ‘brand New Zealand’ is positively perceived, businesses need to maintain high standards to stay competitive.
New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, highlights the strong ties between South Korea and New Zealand, emphasizing common values, cultural similarities, and shared interests in technology, manufacturing, and agri-business. Direct flights between Auckland and Seoul, recently resumed by Air New Zealand, further enhance the bond.
Concluding, James Thomas advises Kiwi businesses interested in the Korean market to visit and establish personal face-to-face relationships, emphasizing the importance of trust in Korean business culture.