Here’s a quick rap sheet for WEB DESIGN FOR THE KOREAN MARKET
(aesthetically speaking):

Benchmarks:  (note: Korean sites are usually best viewed in IE.  Many Korean sites will not display properly in FF, Safari or other browsers).

Portal/Search: use as your benchmark. Not Daum.

(you must look at the pop-up “mini-hompies”– that’s the meat of it.)





if you need other examples, you have to give me a specific area.

Anyway.. here’s the bullet point rundown:

  • Pastel colors, media rich, loud, flashy, lots of flash ok (esp. for menus and stuff like that)…ie: Let your designer go wild.
  • and when in doubt… opt for “CUTE” style rather than “cool” (and don’t be afraid of cutsy characters either.  Yes, I’m serious.)
  • Busy look is fine…but its gotta very “CLEAN”! … like lots of CSS and very well layed out and rounded corners.
  • Image IS important here….and a poorly designed website (ie: in terms of LOOK) can be taken as 1to1 to your ability and competence. Sure there are examples to the contrary…but generally speaking.
  • Most common screen resolution: 1024×768
  • Design for IE6.  Yup, horror of horrors.   Get off your IE6-Must-Die-high-horse or forget about Korea.  Your choice.
  • Don’t worry about Firefox. No really. Just forget it.  I had 0% (ZE – RO) of my visitors (at 50,000 unique/day) using FF.  There is an FF movement in Korea…but unless you want to target all 10 people in that movement, then focus on IE.
  • You can have an English version of your website of course, but only use English to complement the Korean design aspects of your website, which is commonly done.  It makes you look cool and “international”, but don’t expect anyone to actually read it.
  • Definitely check out babelfish for a good laugh^^…but that’s about it. Its translations for Korean are so bad that I don’t even think you get the right idea from it.
  • All the above is given somewhat more latititude if you are an “obviously US/foreign” company–depends on the product though. Luxury items, or small items or company site etc…all have different levels of tolerance to styling and “English” focus.
  • Follow SEO principles as that’s just good practice…but don’t fret over it….at all. 99% of the cases, you can’t break into this market on SEO alone. Google has had about 2% of the search market here over the last like 10 years… and SEO is a different beast completely for the big search engines (eg: Naver).
  • We you want to promote/advertise your website, be prepared to SPEND (fees, ad spend, brute force, etc), or else don’t expect too muchfrom this market.  Not much a way around it for the market, unless you are here on the ground doing guerilla marketing.  You can hire people to do that guerrilla marketing for you, and viral video market can do quite well here, but the SEO rules are different and you need a local for proper link development…so pay pay pay (eg: PPC) is only other effective way.
  • KOR language encoding and EUC-KR charset is best. UTF-8 won’t cut it. For information on META TAGS here: What meta tags to use for Korean sites?
  • Do some searches on the Korean market on webmasterworld. I’ve written plenty about what to do/what’s up with the Korean market.
  • Koreans are used to the internet at blazing speeds–fastest in the world in fact.  Make sure you host is kick@ss or get one closer (or IN) Korea (Asia). Even Google (US version) feels slow here.  heh.

Feel free to post more questions about the Korean market if you have em…

Good luck!

PS.  Note:

Setting your browser encoding to KOREAN, but having a site in English (ISO) works fine. but it may be hard to KEEP your browser in Korean as most will keep switching back to english encoding with each new page or refresh (as many browsers are set to “automatic” detecting language).

Also, avoid auto geo-location for your site.  That’s what “country” selection menus are for.  Make it accessible and self-explanatory and there will be no issue.  Plus, this is standard practice in Korea.  People are very used to the “massive effort” (rolleyes) of choosing their location.  Poorly implemented geo-location ends up with users that get “stuck” in countries languages they don’t necessarily want to be viewing.


  1. February 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm — Reply

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by richardmin: New blog post: Web Design for the Korean Market 101 [KMixx]

  2. September 2, 2010 at 3:28 am — Reply

    I don't know why only IE browser will be good and best suited when it comes to the site of a Koreans. I guess it depends on the web programming platform they are using for their sites.

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