South Korea Has a Thriving Tech Startup Scene

south korea tech startups

March 23, 2022

South Korea has a thriving tech startup scene. There was $6.4 billion in venture capital funding of startups in South Korea in 2021, according to the World Economic Forum. That is 78 percent more than in 2020. South Korean startups created more jobs in 2021 than the four largest conglomerates in South Korea combined.

South Korea is now the 11th-largest economy in the world and the fifth-largest exporter in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Samsung and LG are top electronics companies based in South Korea, and Hyundai and Kia are among the largest carmakers in the world.

South Korea has made itself a friendlier place for startups through government support of startups. The Tech Incubator Program for Startups matches startups with government funding. South Korea’s government also created the Ministry of SMEs and Startups in 2017.

There are now 18 unicorns, or private companies worth more than $1 billion, in South Korea, according to South Korean government data cited by the Korea Herald. There were 13 unicorns in 2020 and only three in 2017.

South Korea is the third-largest hub for unicorns in Asia, after China and India, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Unicorns in South Korea include Market Kurly, an online grocery delivery platform; Yanolja, an online hotel booking platform; Dunamu, which operates the cryptocurrency exchange Upbit; Viva Republica, which owns the mobile payment platform Toss; Yello Mobile, an integrated data platform company; Danggeun Market, which owns the community app Karrot; WeMakePrice, an e-commerce platform; Musinsa, an online fashion platform; L&P Cosmetic, a beauty startup; GPClub, a beauty startup; Socar, a car-sharing platform; SendBird, a chat platform; Aprogen, a biotech startup; Zigbang, a real estate startup; the Pinkfong Company, a children’s content platform; and TMON, an e-commerce platform.

The South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang went public on the New York Stock Exchange last year. It has a market capitalization of $34 billion as of March 18, 2022. Krafton, a video game developer, also went public last year.

South Korea’s startups have thrived because it has a rich, tech-savvy population based in big cities where fast mobile broadband is widespread, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If you’re building a South Korean startup, we’d like to talk to you. We help global tech companies expand into the US by matching them to top US sales and business development talent and serving as the Employer of Record. If you’re ready to expand into the US, book a call with us today.


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