Path To Obtaining A Startup Visa In South Korea

Business Startup Visa

Seoul Global Center Experience & Resources

New Moon with a Lunar Eclipse, new agenda for the remainder of the year.  My journey first started because I wanted to meet new friends.  Now I know what you’re thinking, there are several options for meeting new friends while living abroad.  Anyone can search on Google using the keywords, “Foreigner Meetup Groups In Seoul” and any number of meetup groups will populate near Itaewon (이태원) and Hongdae (흥 대).  

However, I have that annoying problem of being initially shy and quiet.  Usually, instead of mixing and mingling, I sip on a carbonated drink and munch on overly-salted french fries.  I wanted a place where I could meet foreigners, have a conversation starter and solve my problem with washing clothes by opening a laundromat.  The laundromat near my new dorm I discovered costs $5,000 won ($4.7 U.S. approx.) to wash and another $5,000 won to dry.  Opening a laundromat was a simple idea that didn’t involve having a face-to-face interaction with customers on a daily basis and I could make a decent living.     

I discovered the Seoul Global Center while I was researching free orientations on expat life in Seoul.  The center offers drivers license, mobile purchasing service of new and used phones, business professional consultations (Accounting, Tax, Foreign Direct Investment, and IP), banking & financial counseling services, and a free business start-up school.  The business class provided another possibility of living in South Korea without attending school and that was obtaining a Startup Visa.  

The free business start-up school provides the ability to earn points in order to obtain a D-8-4 Start-up Visa.  For more information on the Visa process, you can check out the Korean Intellectual Property Assistance point system.  The initial application process was fairly easy.  I completed a one-page application and then submitted the application via email.  Once I was accepted into the program I was asked to provide a front and back copy of my Alien Registration Card.  

The first class I took was the 1st Business Start-up School course, a free two-week program, titled Oasis 4.  The class gathered at Seoul Global Center every night from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on the fifth floor.  The class covers such topics as writing Corporation Formation, Writing An Effective Business Plan, Labor Laws, Marketing, and Business Taxes in South Korea.  Prior to the first day of class, I was sent via email the course curriculum, subway directions, and emergency contact information.  

I was both excited about the class and worried about the amount of time I would need to dedicate to completing the class.  My new weekly schedule consisted of attending Korean Language program class from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m, grabbing dinner at Hankuk University faculty cafeteria, and then riding the subway for thirty minutes to Seoul Global Center to attend business startup class.  

The first night at the business class I was excited to meet fellow entrepreneurs.  We were given a resource guide that provided contact information for our instructors and blank pages to write notes.  While we waited for the class to begin free coffee and light snacks were served.       

Throughout the class, presenters provided great reference materials such as a summary of insurance rates and a severance pay automatic calculation spreadsheet.  After the class was complete, I took a free advanced online marketing class.  The class is offered by two previous startup attendees who now run a successful Marketing business in South Korea.  

If you want to check out more about their company you can check out their website at World Markets Korea, they have great resources, including a recent blog post on SEO practices for South Korea.  In my opinion, I believe the most valuable resource, however, was the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs.  Many of whom I still keep in contact with through Facebook and our Kakao chat group.

I have included some helpful websites for readers who are looking for more information about starting a business with a Start-up Visa in South Korea.  You can check previously patented inventions at the Korea Intellectual Property Rights Information Service and obtain pricing information for Intellectual Property translation services.  

Additionally, if you want to find information on Intellectual Property filing paperwork and how much it costs to file a patent in South Korea check out Korean Intellectual Property Office.  To read more about South Korea competitive e-commerce retail platforms check out Emarketer.com.  Lastly, if you want to obtain information about locations, previous lease and business concepts with real estate properties you can check out Supreme Court of Korea’s website.             

I decided I would share what I’m currently working on since I have returned to Los Angeles, CA, last year.  It has been a journey of highs and lows, some of the lows include, the learning curve that I was not prepared to encounter with opening a business overseas.  I have learned to tackle the issues I face just as I have with starting this blog, one task at a time and trying to remain positive with using the famous quote, “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining” as my mantra.  

Stay tuned for future posts on my adventure with starting a business.  Future posts will include my experience with obtaining financial advising, location-specific advantages with rental properties, and eventually my preparations to move back to South Korea.    

If you want to read about additional small business opportunities in South Korea check out my blog post on How To Find The Right International Franchise.

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