[Korean Office Culture] Corporate Titles

Corporate Titles (직급/ 職級/ jik-keub) are very important in any Korean organization.

The corporate titles are different comparing to the west, and share many similarity with neighboring Japan. For fans of Korean drama, many are confused with the job titles.

Korean Office

Korean Office Setting (Source: tvN Misaeng)

Let us take a look at the most common Korean corporate job titles.

You’ll need to address your superior by their titles, with the honorific suffix -nim (님) .

신입사원 (Shinip-sawon/新入社員) – Employee under Probation 

Shinip Sawon

Shinip Sawon

After being accepted by the company, you’ll be the “Shinip-sawon”, which means you are the newly employed staff by the company. You’ll most probably be under probation until the company confirms you to become regular staff.

사원 (Sawon/ 社員) – Staff  


Kang Sora as An Young-yi (Photo: tvN Misaeng)

You are now confirmed by the company after the probation period, and you’re now the Sawon of the company. Remember to address seniors with the same job titles as  Seonbaenim (선배님/ 先輩님).

You’ll be officially given a Staff Pass.

staff pass


대리 (Daeri/ 代理) – Assistant Manager/ Deputy Manager 


Kim Dongsik Daeri

After a few years of experience, the next hierarchy will be Daeri (대리). You’ll do the job of the section manager when he/she is not around, while you also share the work load as the Sawon.

과장 (Kwajang / 課長) – Section Manager 



When you’re in your thirties, you’ll most probably reach the title of Kwajang (Team Manager). Which means you’re a head of a team of a section.

차장 (Chajang/ 次長) – Deputy General Manager  / Deputy Head of Department 



Chajang is the direct subordinate of the Head of Department or Bujang.

부장 (Bujang / 部長) – Head of Department / Team Manager/ General Manager 



Bujang heads the different sections that form a department.

상무(Sangmu/ 常務) – Senior vice president

Sangmu is the Senior Vice President or Managing Director

전무 (Jeonmu/ 專務) – Senior Managing Director



The third highest rank of most Korean companies, Jeonmu is the English equivalent to Senior Managing Director or Executive Director.

부사장 (Busajang/ 副社長) – Deputy President

Busajang assist and reports to the President.

 사장 (Sajang/ 社長) – President


Secret Garden President

 Commonly portrayed in Korean Dramas as 2nd Generation Chaebols, Sajang is the President of a Korean company.


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