Confucian and Buddhist influences in Korea combine to create a paradoxical culture in which different ideas work together harmoniously. Confucian philosophy’s legacy in Korea remains strong compared to China, for example. Meanwhile, European values, rooted in Aristotle, have developed in a different direction. With increasing opportunities and collaborations between European Union (EU) countries and Korea, developing enduring and successful business relationships has become imperative. This paper addresses the lack of focus on Korean Confucianism and its effect on relations with Europe. It emerges from the unique opportunity to evaluate a series of highly successful EU-Korean collaborations conducted over a period of 11 years in higher education institutions and commercial industries. Using the thematic analysis of in-depth interviews with ‘critical cases’ on both sides, our findings show that the influence of Korean Confucianism is established as a major positive influence on the ability to initiate and develop sustained working relationships to achieve increasingly complex and ambitious aims. It is posited that a combination of Korean and European values might be ideal as Korean society undergoes rapid change and Europe faces political upheaval. Finally, we find that the right level of value adjustment from both sides is essential for a successful business relationship and a new framework of approaches to this process is proposed.