The different institutional contexts in which businesses practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) lead researchers to challenge the validity of the extant standardized global approach. This study follows recent studies in employing institutional theory to explore the specific pressures and factors that lead CSR practices to differ between countries, and how they lead to those differences. The study is a detailed qualitative analysis of CSR practice in South Korea, a country with very different value and governance systems from the US and UK where contemporary CSR evolved. Contrary to simplistic expectations, Korea shows a concern for short-termism more than for sustainability; and a normative more than a strategic orientation in its CSR, where CSR lies at a crossroads between implicit and explicit CSR behavior. The practices reflect many Korean institutional factors, but not in simple and direct ways. Institutional factors interact in intricate ways to create complex and dynamic pressures for CSR practice. CSR research needs to consider these interactions and dynamic processes with care and institutional theory can help provide a sufficiently intricate research framework.