#1 Guide To Popular Brands In Korea + Their Name’s Meanings

Korea is famous for its trend-setting culture, always ahead of the rest of the world. You’ve probably heard about K-pop, K-beauty, or K-fashion, a few terms created to define new trends in this Asian country. Popular brands in Korea are responsible for the latest trends in this country.

Korean fashion brands have gained special attraction worldwide for their creative and modern approach to the industry. Popular Korean clothing brands have been growing internationally and reach every corner of the world.

For example, walking through the streets of Seoul can be very overwhelming. The last time I visited this magnificent city, I felt like I was in a different world from what I was used to. During a little stroll around 신사동 (Sinsa-Dong) neighborhood, one of the hippest and trendiest neighborhoods in Seoul where a bunch of Korean celebrities shop, I saw brands I had never seen and product concepts that hadn’t even been talked about in Europe yet. From luxury brands to popular Korean fashion brands, there were offers to every taste. Especially my girlfriend was completely obsessed with some of the Korean fashion brands we discovered during our visit.

k-pop in Korea

I was flooded with as many new trends in one day as in a whole year in any other place in the world! It felt like this was an incubator for new brands, ready to storm the world by assault. A fascinating culture where boredom does not have any space, and you’re guaranteed to see something you have never seen before.

Although you may not be aware, many famous brands worldwide – not only related to Korean fashion – are original from Korea. Brands like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai were founded in Korea and are recognized worldwide today.

In this article, I’m going to show you some of the most famous brands in Korea that you probably didn’t know were original from Korea (at least I didn’t!).

Popular Brands In Korea

Samsung korea brand

Samsung

This is the first surprise I have for you. Did you know Samsung was a Korean brand? I didn’t! Samsung, or 삼성 (Samseong) in Korean, was founded by Lee Byung-Chul in 1938 as a trading company, only entering into the electronics industry, which became famous in the 1960s. The company’s name comes from the Korean words in Hanja 三 (sam) – meaning 3 which is the lucky number -, and 星 (song) which means star. “Three stars” represents the founder’s vision to turn Samsung into an everlasting brand, like stars in the night sky.

Samsung is such a big company that it produces around a fifth of South Korea’s total exports, having a revenue equal to 17% of South Korea’s GDP. Their headquarters are in Samsung Town in Seoul.

Fun fact: Samsung was the first company to release a phone with MP3 on it. I’m suddenly feeling very old…

Hyundai Korea Brand

Hyundai

Another big fish original from Korea is the car manufacturer Hyundai or 현대 (hun-day) in Korean. The name Hyundai comes from the Korean word 現代 (hyeondae) meaning “modernity” or “contemporary”, the perfect name for this brand that is always testing the limits of creativity and innovation. It was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in Seoul. Hyundai operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, capable of producing 1.6 million units per year.

Kia Korean Brand

Kia

Owned by Hyundai, Kia, or 기아 (ki-ah) in Korean, is another car manufacturer from Korea. Its name is a beautiful mix of Korean words: comes from the Hanja word 起 (ki) or “to arise” and 亞 (a) meaning “Asia”, resulting in the meaningful message “Rising from Asia”. We love it when things make sense!

Founded in 1944, it is the second largest automobile manufacturer after its parent company.

LG TV Korean Brand

LG Corporation

LG Corporation is probably a brand you have in your home, either in your TV, sound system, A/C, or kitchen appliances. Its foundation dates back to 1952 when the companies Lak Hui (락희) (Lucky) and Goldstar decided to merge, creating “Lucky Goldstar”, or 럭키금성 (樂喜金星 – Leokki Geumseong) in Korean. In 1995 this name was considered too long for overseas consumers, so after a survey of employees and domestic customers, the name LG (엘지) was selected.

Fila Shoes Korean Brand

Fila

Although Fila was not founded in Korea (it was founded in Italy in 1911), it has always had a powerful presence in Korean society through Fila Korea. It has been such an essential brand in Korea that in 2007 it was fully acquired by Fila Korea, moving all headquarters and international subsidiaries to Seoul.

The name FILA comes from the name of the founder of the brand, Giansevero Fila and his three brothers.

Kakao

Kakao, or 카카오 in Korean, is a South Korean Internet company that is widespread in Korea. Its name comes from the chocolate’s raw material, cacao, with the introduction of Korea’s K letter. It was established in 2010 in Jeju City, South Korea, and has been gaining prominence through its service KakaoTalk, a free mobile instant messaging application for smartphones that allows users to text and call completely free.

Posco Korean Brand

Posco

Exploring the industrial side of Korea comes the company Posco, 주식회사 포스코, a South Korean steel-making company that has reached the 4th place in the world’s largest steelmakers. It was founded in 1968 and is headquartered in Pohang, South Korea. The name POSCO is the abbreviation of the former name Pohang Iron and Steel Company.

E-mart Korean Brand

E-mart

E-mart, or 이마트 (i-ma-tŭ) in Korean, is the largest retailer in Korea, with over 160 stores across the country. It was founded in 1993 as the first discount retailer in Korea, and since then has been growing astronomically, becoming the leader in this industry in Korea.

Kepco

Korea Electric Power Corporation, or Kepco 켑코, is the largest electric utility in Korea, responsible for generating and distributing 93% of the electric power of the whole country. With over 100 years of history, this company was founded in 1898 in Seoul. Its name correspond to the abbreviation for Korea Electric Power Corporation.

SK Telecom Korean Brand

SK Telecom

에스케이텔레콤 in Korean, SK Telecom is the largest telecommunications operator in Korea. It was founded in 1984 and had its headquarters in Seoul.

Korean Fashion Brands

Stylenanda

As you know, Korea is famous for its addiction to beauty and fashion products. Every day, a new fashion brand is ready to be born and create fashion trends for Korean people. Stylenanda, or 스타일난다 in Korean, is a Korean streetwear brand created in South Korea in 2004 that is the perfect example of that. This popular Korean fashion brand, specializing in clothing and make-up, was acquired by L’Oréal in 2008 and had been expanding through Southeast Asia. If you ever visit Seoul, don’t forget to visit the fashion brand’s flagship store in Myeong-dong. Named Pink Hotel, this store is completely covered with pink color and is an incredible experience in the city.

Minju Kim

Another growing Korean fashion brand is Minju Kim. Kim, the creator of the brand, was the winner of Netflix’s first season, Next In Fashion, in 2020 and, since then, has released a series of juicy collections and collaborations, all of which have been met with success.

Learn More About The Rich Korean Culture With Ling

As you can see, Korea is a prosperous and diverse country, filled with exciting new things to discover. Every day, new brands and products are being released in the Korean market to be tested and experimented with. It is an ever-growing culture, and it is inevitable that, eventually, you’ll be confronted with something Korean-based. It is inevitable, and you should be prepared for it!

Learn Korean with Ling App

As I think you should have an easy and fun way to learn this language, I want to present to you my friend Ling – a friendly monkey that is the head of a fascinating way to learn new languages.

Ling App is a language learning application that teaches you several languages – even scary ones like Korean and its new alphabet – in fun and interactive ways, using games, quizzes, puzzles, and many examples.

This application fits perfectly on your phone so you can learn new languages everywhere. Imagine this: You have a flight to Korea next week and want to have some words in your vocabulary before going: Join us at Ling and start learning Korean in as little as 15 minutes per day.

Besides learning how to read Korean, you’ll learn the different ways to connect with locals, grammar tricks, and pronunciation techniques to master this language. Don’t waste more time. Download Ling App from the App Store and Play Store today and start learning Korean in no time!

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