When it comes to culture and geography, Israel and South Korea are quite a ways apart, but one venture capitalist is confident they share at least one thing in common: entrepreneurial spirit.

"Koreans like to benchmark ourselves against the Jewish community," said John Nahm, managing director at Strong Ventures. The Silicon Valley-based seed fund frequently invests in Korean and Korean-Global startups. "Israel and Korea have this common history, in that we were surrounded by our enemies. Israel, in a way, still is."

Because the country is so surrounded by enemies' threats, innovation is created through the need and desire to "survive," Nahm explains.

The business veteran spoke in conversation with four other venture capitalists (John Ryu of Scout Ventures; Richard Jun of BAM Ventures; Hyuk-Jeen Suh of Samsung Ventures; and David Lee of Google Asia Pacific) at the Korean Startup Summit in New York City on Friday. The panelists weighed in on the pros and cons of expanding a Korean startup globally, as well as the characteristics that Korean entrepreneurs tend to possess.

Nahm nods especially to South Korea's tenuous relationship with its neighbors, North Korea and Japan -- the latter of which occupied the country between 1910 and 1945.  

"Koreans are very persevering," he added, though he warns that the survivalist mentality is not always a good thing. It's important, he says, that founders learn to differentiate between gumption and a bad product.

Several factors suggest that South Korea has been rapidly growing its own strong startup ecosystem. In 2013, the government launched a $2.97 billion fund created specifically to support startups. What's more, mobile penetration has been high. That same year, more than 82 percent of residents had Internet access, and nearly 80 percent owned a smartphone, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.

As the glimmer of Silicon Valley beckons foreign startups, Korean venture capitalists warn that international expansion is not necessarily the way to go -- at least, not at first.

"You don't always have to go to the country. You can start from your backyard, and find a way to do business overseas," explained Google's David Lee. For Korean entrepreneurs abroad, "there's usually a cultural barrier, the shock of a new network," he added.

That's not to mention the regulatory headaches -- including converting your startup into a U.S. entity -- that South Korean entrepreneurs would have to face.

Ultimately, panelists all agreed that the community has a collective sense of discipline, which serves entrepreneurs by and large.

"We are a small community, but there are more of us rising up in the tech and finance side. With this is power in numbers," said Lee.