Korea’s stellar rise as one of the most advanced economies in the world today is a story of resilience, adaptability and creativity. When it joined the OECD in 1996, it was already making its mark, having delivered remarkable rates of growth and development. It has since gone on to become a world leader in many fields, including in education, technology, and sustainability.
The past 25 years have underlined the value of openness and innovation. These values are at the heart of Korea’s culture – and are values that will sustain us as we work together to deliver better policies for better lives for the next 25 years and beyond.
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Korea’s economic transformation, known as “the Miracle on the Han River”, has been a source of inspiration for all countries, and an example of how sound economic policies and investing in future growth engines can drive economic development.
Mathias Cormann, OECD Secretary-General
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A partnership to create better policies for better lives
Together, we shape #betterlives
Here are a few snapshots of the impact achieved through our collaboration with policy makers and partners across Korea, helping inform the policy debate to push forward decisions and reforms that deliver better policies for Korean citizens.
Harnessing digitalisation to build resilient SMEs in Korea
Drawing on its digital know-how and OECD best practices, Korea’s support for SMEs helped them overcome the pandemic – and empowered them for the future.
Sustaining Korea’s world-class system fit for the 21st century
Tackling COVID-19 and charting the recovery
Korea’s COVID-19 containment strategy in 2020 was one of the most effective in the world. With the first case identified on 20 January, it was among the first countries to be affected by the virus. However, the government’s early-stage interventions, as well as the mobilisation of resources in conducting large-scale testing and contact tracing, played a key role in rapidly identifying cases and breaking transmission chains.
Korea drew on lessons learnt from previous epidemics, where the government was able to mitigate the crisis without imposing lockdowns or curfews. The use of information and communications technology (ICT) – a key tenet of the Korean New Deal – was a vital part of its response to COVID-19. The government disseminated disaster emergency messages to individuals, informing them of local outbreaks and health guidelines. Private sector organisations and individuals utilised open government data to provide applications, including real-time mask stock tracker, showing pharmacies with mask stocks.
Korea’s great strides to embed itself in the global economy over the past 25 years – a result of a commitment to major economic reforms and alignment with OECD best practice across multiple policy areas – has enhanced its technological and human potential.
Achieving better jobs, health and opportunities for all
Alongside significant improvements in employment, health, and opportunities for all, Korea has made progress on gender equality, empowered older workers, and integration of migrants. Today it is focused on tackling new challenges, including creating more patient-centred healthcare, improving skills, and tackling increasing inequality.
Korea is at the leading edge of the global digital economy across several industries, including electronics, mobility, steel and shipbuilding. It also plays an important role at the OECD to support work on science, technology, innovation and industry, advancing complex discussions at the international level.
Korea’s future prosperity rests on implementing an ambitious transition to a green, low-carbon economy, and managing its natural resources, disparities between rural and urban areas and high population density.
A surge in foreign direct investment in Korea over the past 25 years is the result of the country’s deep partnership with the OECD, leading to a sizeable increase in trade in services and a deeper integration in global value chains.
Membership of the OECD and the G20 has thrust Korea to the forefront of global efforts to transform the international tax architecture. It has played a pivotal role in advancing the adoption of tax policies and international tax standards among partner economies, including many developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Regulatory quality and competition policy in Korea
Korea was one of the first countries to undergo an OECD regulatory reform review shortly after joining the OECD. It has since successfully established the institutions, processes and tools to support good regulatory practices.
Korea’s remarkable journey from a post-war aid recipient to a global development co-operation partner is a model for many countries. Today, Korea plays a pivotal role, not only within the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) but also in global development co-operation fora.
Korea’s economy brings a challenge to policy makers of how to better connect urban and rural areas. A balanced approach that takes account of the effects of population density and the concentration of economic activities – for instance through smart cities – can help bridge these gaps.
Gender equality: Korea has come a long way, but there is more work to do
OECD recommendations have supported Korea in promoting a more gender-equal society. Korea has made significant progress in the last two decades, although it must continue its work to close the gap with OECD countries.