Foreigners on business visas or permanent residency visas can own businesses in South Korea, but a business visa is very expensive - they run about $100,000 so unless you feel as though your profits will be sizable enough to justify that sort of expense, it's probably not worth it. The process of acquiring permanent residency in South Korea is not an easy one - one of the first stipulations is that the applicant must have resided in South Korea continually for 5 years, which means that people who become permanent residents spent 5 years under other types of visas - usually work visas and study visas, before getting the rubber stamp on their residency. To apply for the F-25 or F-5 visa in Korea, you'd also need to be able to demonstrate proficiency in Korean. Even people who wish to switch over from a spousal visa must submit test results showing that they can communicate at a certain level. There are definitely easier places to open a business than Korea or Japan. Thousands of foreigners own pubs and restaurants and guesthouses in The Philippines, Thailand and other places. Nearly all of the foreigners that own businesses in Korea are overseas Koreans or partnered up with a Korean national. If you wish to go ahead with opening a business in either country, go right ahead, but there are easier ways to make money. I've been running my business in Korea for over a dozen years now and I've done well with it, but I've tried to sell it several times and haven't had any takers so now I'm stuck with it. I've got mates that invested in hair salons and the like in Southeast Asia who just sit back and collect a fat cheque every month. Do that if you can.