South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Information and Communication Technology

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-08-02



NAICS Code: 541511


Table: Korea Total Market Size for Cybersecurity







Total Market Size






System & Product






Consulting & Service






Exchange Rate: 1 USD






 Source: Ministry of Science and ICT, Korea Information Security Industry Association (KISIA), 2022, Unit: $ millions.

As the world becomes more interconnected, cyberattacks have become more serious and sophisticated. Due to the focus of global hacker groups and cyber terrorists, cyberattacks are better organized, more persistent and executed on a larger scale. That focus broadened to include not just critical infrastructure but also private sector assets. The borderless nature of the internet is contributing to the vulnerabilities of certain devices and data storage.

With South Korea’s introduction of a 5G network, high degree of network connectedness, high penetration of mobile devices, and significant intellectual property, the country has become a prime target for cyberattacks. According to the 2020 VMware-Deloitte’s Cyber Smart Index, South Korea is the second-most exposed country to cyberattacks in the APAC region. The ransomware WannaCry attack in 2017 shook the Koreans awake to the notion that their society was being attacked at every possible vulnerability, not just with real world weapons, but also through easily executable cyberattacks. Cyberattacks in South Korea continue to increase in both frequency and complexity. The latest attacks on South Korea include the use of advanced malwares, supply chain attacks, cryptojacking and zero-day attacks.

Not surprisingly, as the awareness of cyber vulnerabilities became apparent, the market demand for cybersecurity products and services in Korea continues to grow. According to a Korean government survey in 2022, for the past five years, the cybersecurity market grew at a CAGR of 12 percent reaching $3.3 in 2020.

South Korea deemed cybersecurity as a matter of national security. Although the country boasts one of the world’s fastest IT infrastructures, it also has an infrastructure that is vulnerable to cyberattacks. The frequency and gravity of recent cyberattacks prompted the South Korean government to re-evaluate its cybersecurity strategy. In 2019, led by the office of the President, the Korean government announced its first National Cybersecurity Strategy. This strategy includes strengthening partnerships with foreign countries and companies and expanding investment to the domestic cybersecurity industry. In 2022, to accelerate the promotion of its cybersecurity industry, the Korean government established the “Strategic Plan to Foster Data Protection Industry”.

There is a growing number of domestic and U.S. companies providing cybersecurity services in Korea. There are 530 cybersecurity firms registered in Korea. While most of these firms have developed their own products, some are opened to partnering with small and medium sized exporters from the United States. These Korean companies are interested in filling gaps in technology and product/service line-up, helping the company to meet a wide range of cybersecurity needs.

To enter the local public sector, foreign cybersecurity companies must understand local requirements. Korea is a member country of the Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement; however, the local public agencies require companies to receive additional verification even if the products received CCRA certification outside of the country. The government designated six agencies to perform the evaluation. The evaluation process can take up to one year. In addition to the verification, foreign companies must obtain security clearance from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) before they can supply to public agencies. 

Sub-Sector Best Prospects for 2022

The Korean public and private sectors predict that the key sub-sectors for the domestic cybersecurity market in 2022 include solutions for ransomware, data security, operational technology, and AI for cybersecurity.

Table: key sub-sectors for the domestic cybersecurity market in 2022



Samsung SDS

Log4j Vulnerability & Supply Chain Security

Attacks using political & Social Events

Cloud Security

IoT Security

IoT Security

Teleworking Security /IAM


Advanced Ransomware

OT/ICS Security

Security in Emerging Tech

OT/ICS/Advanced Technology Security

Endpoint Detection & Response

Cloud Security

Security in Emerging Tech
(NFT, Cryptocurrency)




Source: Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA), Ahnlab, Samsung SDS


Due to its leads in high-speed internet use and advanced ICT infrastructure, South Korea is an ideal market for U.S. firms seeking to test cybersecurity solutions before deployment in other markets. While firms that produce sophisticated and cutting-edge products for critical infrastructure are more likely to succeed, there are also opportunities for firms that provide cybersecurity related consulting and training services. Overall, the Korean market favors the quality and reliability of U.S. products and demand for American products is expected to continue.

To enter the cybersecurity market, the U.S. Commercial Service in Korea recommends that U.S. technology firms partner with qualified and capable South Korean companies which maintain existing sales networks in both private/public sectors and are fully aware of local market characteristics and unique regulatory requirements. 


Trade Shows

SECON 2022 (April 2022 / Seoul)

Hosted its first event back in 2001, SECON is Korea’s largest security exhibition covering all sectors of both cyber and physical security. In 2019, 500 companies attended the event and exhibited their products and solutions.

ISEC 2021 (October 2022 / Seoul)

Hosted by Ministry of Interior and Safety, ISEC is the largest cybersecurity conference in South Korea. The conference provides 35 sub-sessions and opportunities to engage with relevant domestic ministries and companies.

Key Contacts

  • Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).
  • Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA).
  • Korea Information Security Industry Association (KISIA).
  • IT Security Certification Center (ITSCC).

Artificial Intelligence (AI)


NAICS Code: 541715


South Korea is developing its AI capabilities and has expressed its ambition to position itself as a global contender in AI technologies markets. ROK officials see AI as a crucial element for the country’s prowess in the ICT sector and are committed to making Korea an AI powerhouse. In support of this goal, in 2019, the ROK Government announced its first national AI strategy which included focusing on heavy investments in AI infrastructures and greater use of AI technologies across all industries. In 2020, the government released the Digital New Deal, the national strategy for digital transformation, which envisioned state-led industrial and educational efforts on the potential opportunities in AI.  Also, the country released a fiscal 2022 budget plan that calls for nearly $3 billion in funding for AI technology related projects.   

South Korea recognized that there is an engineering gap for experienced and skilled AI talent and therefore the ROK designated ten local universities as AI engineering schools and four national universities as AI research centers as of 2022. The movement is also to realign the national R&D capabilities to specialized in various AI research fields such as core AI, AI ethics, and AI convergence with other industries.

Also, Korean companies are contributing to the country’s AI R&D effort while more AI startups are emerging. Major Korean ICT companies are aggressively pursuing AI technologies. Two leading electronics companies - Samsung and LG Electronics, the top internet companies - Kakao and Naver, and the major telecom companies - SK and KT, have invested significantly in Artificial Intelligence. Just to highlight a few investments:

  • Samsung Electronics has opened seven AI centers in five countries and worked on various projects such as advanced machine learning algorithms, Voice/Vision AI, and AI chip.
  • Naver, Korea’s largest search engine and portal site, acquired Xerox AI research center Europe in 2017 and developed its own core AI engines for speech/image recognition, machine learning platform and text analytics, etc. Also, the company is considered as the most active Korean investor for AI startups. It has invested to more than 35 AI startups.
  • KT, the second largest mobile carrier in Korea, committed $300M investment on core AI research until 2023, and announced a plan to expand its AI engineer headcount and partnership with other AI companies and organizations such as LG Electronics, and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Many in the country see the creation and development of AI startups and businesses as vital to building a strong AI ecosystem. As a result, a number of government agencies have created AI-oriented startup incubation program to help develop emerging AI businesses in South Korea. Also, the country’s thriving VC ecosystem leads the AI startups expansion. Currently, South Korea is home to approximately 400 AI startups. The number of AI startups in the country is rapidly increasing. According to the Korea AI Association, more than 100 new AI startups were founded in 2021.

Regardless of the size of the firms or solution’s countries of origin, Korean companies are seeking cutting-edge technology and applications to enhance their AI capabilities and implement AI technologies to their products and services. Also, more of these companies are looking for technology/business partnerships with foreign AI companies and startups.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

  • On-Device AI: In order to lower the power consumption of devices and increase the speed of AI computation, the Korean electronics companies are interested in developing light and fast deep learning solutions which allows devices to perform AI computation independent of any external server.
  • AI Chip: By reducing the need to send and receive data over the internet, AI chips enable devices to perform intensive AI computations on all IT devices. All the major Korean ICT companies are investing heavily on developing AI chips for adding new product and services based on AI. 
  • Monetization of AI: As Korean companies are leveraging AI as part of core technology stacks, they need to monetize the technology on a large scale. These companies are actively seeking to learn more on how to monetize AI through their new/existing products and services.
  • Explainable AI: As the influence of AI technology spreads across sectors such as healthcare, finance and defense, companies are looking for the AI models that provide greater interpretability or users and guarantee the reliability of the model.


Trade Shows

AI EXPO Korea (April, Seoul)

Organized by the Korea AI Association, AI Expo is the largest annual AI exhibition in South Korea.  In 2021, 138 Korean/global companies and 23,263 participants attended the event. The exhibition also featured technology seminars and network events.

AI Korea/AI World Congress (September, Busan)

AI Korea, hosted by Busan Metropolitan City, focuses on Korea’s AI capabilities and provides a platform for global companies to convene and discuss trends in AI. This year’s theme will include AI application for smart cities, mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and government policy in AI.  

Other Resource

  • Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT).
  • National Information Society Agency (NIA).
  • Korea Artificial Intelligence Association (KORAIA).
  • Artificial Intelligence Industry Association (AIIA).



NAICS Code: 334413


Semiconductors is one of South Korea’s core industries.  According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, in 2021, the industry made up 20.1 percent of the country’s exports ($129B).  Thanks to solid demand for chips for new IT devices, data centers, and innovative services like cloud computing, the global demand for chips has grown, resulting in the industry posting strong growth over the past few years.

Korea is home to two memory chip giants – Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. According to the TrendForce’s research in 2022, these two Korean companies held 72 percent of the global DRAM and 47 percent of the NAND flash market. Additionally, Korea has many small and medium-sized companies producing various semiconductor products and equipment.

While South Korea is considered a leader in technological competitiveness in memory chips, other types of semiconductor products such as microprocessors and sensors still need to be improved to compete on the global stage. In order to expand the country’s semiconductor leadership beyond memory chips, the country announced a series of national development plans to support the industry.  In 2019, the government announced the system semiconductor vision and the AI semiconductor initiative in 2020.  These national plans include focusing on state-led investments on local fabless companies and educational support to foster competitive semiconductor professionals at a national level. In May 2021 the Korean government introduced a $450 billion national semiconductor investment plan called “K-Semiconductor Strategy” to build the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturing base over the next decade. The strategy includes a tax deduction for semiconductor R&D and investment, expanding the semiconductor industry workforce, loosening regulations on semiconductor manufacturing facilities, and a $1.5B direct investment in R&D in the fields of next-gen power semiconductors, AI chips, and cutting-edge sensors.


As South Korea is a leading producer of semiconductors, there is an enormous market for suppliers of equipment, materials, and services for semiconductor production. According to a survey by SEMI in 2022 the semiconductor equipment market in Korea was estimated to reach $25B, representing a growth of 55 percent over the previous year. South Korea still imports significant amounts of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and materials from other countries—mainly from the United States and Japan.

The rapidly growing AI and cloud computing markets are key growth factors for semiconductors. Market demand will be driven further by increasing connectivity through innovative technologies such as next-gen network, connected car, and IoT. As one of the world’s major semiconductor manufacturers, Korea will be among the primary beneficiaries of such technology innovation. Moreover, as the total production increases, more equipment and materials will be needed, including imports.

To retain its leadership in the semiconductor market, local governments and companies are proactively investing in the next step of miniaturizing semiconductors with innovative processes such as utilizing extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, developing new materials, and diversifying its supply chain beyond existing suppliers.

  • Samsung Electronics: In August 2021, Samsung announced that it will invest $130B in its semiconductor unit over the next three years. The company will invest to develop advanced process technology and expand its product lines to chips for AI and data center. Also, Samsung will focus on the technologies including EUV-based sub 10-nanometer DRAM, the 7th-gen V-NAND flash, and 3-nanometer gate-all-around (GAA) process. In November 2021, the company announced a plan to build a $17B semiconductor manufacturing facility in Taylor, Texas.
  • SK Hynix: In 2019, SK announced a $107B long-term investment plan which includes building four fabrication plants after 2022. In 2020, the company signed a $9B deal to acquire Intel’s NAND flash memory business.


Trade Shows

SEDEX (October, Seoul)

Organized by Korea Semiconductor Industry Association, the exhibition covers the full spectrum of the semiconductor industry supply chain and products including SoC, memory, sensor, equipment, and material. During the 2021 event, 219 companies including Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix presented their products to more than 60,000 participants.

SEMICON KOREA (February, Seoul)

Focusing on semiconductor equipment and materials, SEMICON is one of the major trade events for semiconductor industry in Korea. The event features keynote speeches from global companies such as Intel and SK, 426 exhibition booths, technology conferences and network events. 

Key Contacts

  • Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
  • Ministry of Science and ICT.
  • Korea Semiconductor Industry Association.

Cloud Computing


NAICS Code: 548210, 541512


With Korean enterprises and government institutions adopting cloud services with increasing frequency, the cloud computing market in Korea is expected to grow at a faster rate than other IT services market sectors. According to Gartner, the South Korea cloud computing market was estimated to reach $2.8B in 2021, a 20 percent increase over the previous year. The market is forecasted to grow to $3.1B in 2022. 

South Korea was one of the first countries to establish a national cloud computing strategy. The government presented its first blueprint for the promotion of the cloud computing industry in 2015. To stimulate the sector, the government released new guidelines in 2018 on the use of the private cloud services for the public sector. The guidelines designate cloud computing as an alternative measure to network separation for cybersecurity and for storage of important data such as financial information. In 2020, the government included cloud computing as one of the sub-areas for its Digital New Deal projects with the goal of transitioning to cloud services through state-led projects and investments. To completely convert the country’s administrative and public institutions information to cloud services, the government will invest $750M over the next 5 years.

Global cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google have led the cloud computing market in Korea. To further increase their market share, the global players have accelerated their investments in Korea. AWS and Microsoft have three data centers each in Korea. In 2020, Google also opened its first data in the peninsula.  The recent boost in demand for cloud computing has caught the attention of Korean companies. Major Korean IT companies (Naver, NHN) and mobile carriers (KT, LG U+) have entered the market, but struggled to increase their presence.

To enter the Korean cloud market, foreign cloud companies must understand certain market specific requirements regarding personal information and data protection.  One of the key regulations is the cloud security certification for public sector cloud service procurement. Although their presence is expected to strengthen further within the private sector, the global CSPs are facing challenges in the public sector. The Korean government introduced the Cloud Security Assurance Program (CSAP) which requires foreign CSPs to create a separate Korea-unique product for all central/local government agencies, affiliated public institutions, educational institutions, and public hospitals.

However, there will be increasing opportunities for SaaS companies in the Korean market as more local private companies seek to adopt various and customized applications and services on their cloud. Also, cloud management service is another promising sector as a smooth cloud migration is critical for local companies new to cloud computing.


Trade Shows

  • Grand Cloud Conference (December, Seoul).
  • Cloud Impact Conference (February, Seoul).
  • Cloud Expo Korea (September, Busan).

Key Contacts

  • Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
  • Ministry of Science and ICT.
  • Korea Association of Cloud Industry.

Local Contact

U.S. Commercial Service Korea   
U.S. Embassy Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongro-gu
Seoul 03141, Korea
Tel: 82-2-397-4535