Korea, South Economy

Is Korea, South a rich country?

After emerging from the 1950-53 war with North Korea, South Korea emerged as one of the 20th century’s most remarkable economic success stories, becoming a developed, globally connected, high-technology society within decades. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorest countries in the world. In 2004, South Korea's GDP surpassed one trillion dollars.

Beginning in the 1960s under President PARK Chung-hee, the government promoted the import of raw materials and technology, encouraged saving and investment over consumption, kept wages low, and directed resources to export-oriented industries that remain important to the economy to this day. Growth surged under these policies, and frequently reached double-digits in the 1960s and 1970s. Growth gradually moderated in the 1990s as the economy matured, but remained strong enough to propel South Korea into the ranks of the advanced economies of the OECD by 1997. These policies also led to the emergence of family-owned chaebol conglomerates such as Daewoo, Hyundai, and Samsung, which retained their dominant positions even as the government loosened its grip on the economy amid the political changes of the 1980s and 1990s.

The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 hit South Korea’s companies hard because of their excessive reliance on short-term borrowing, and GDP ultimately plunged by 7% in 1998. South Korea tackled difficult economic reforms following the crisis, including restructuring some chaebols, increasing labor market flexibility, and opening up to more foreign investment and imports. These steps lead to a relatively rapid economic recovery. South Korea also began expanding its network of free trade agreements to help bolster exports, and has since implemented 16 free trade agreements covering 58 countries—including the United State and China—that collectively cover more than three-quarters of global GDP.

In 2017, the election of President MOON Jae-in brought a surge in consumer confidence, in part, because of his successful efforts to increase wages and government spending. These factors combined with an uptick in export growth to drive real GDP growth to more than 3%, despite disruptions in South Korea’s trade with China over the deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea.

In 2018 and beyond, South Korea will contend with gradually slowing economic growth - in the 2-3% range - not uncommon for advanced economies. This could be partially offset by efforts to address challenges arising from its rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, continued dominance of the chaebols, and heavy reliance on exports rather than domestic consumption. Socioeconomic problems also persist, and include rising inequality, poverty among the elderly, high youth unemployment, long working hours, low worker productivity, and corruption.

Korea, South Economy Data

What is the GDP of Korea, South?

Currency Name and Code Won (KRW)
GDP - Gross Domestic Product (PPP) $1,784,000,000,000 (USD)
GDP - official exchange rate $1,383,000,000,000 (USD)
GDP - real growth rate 2.7%
GDP Per Capita $36,700.00 (USD)
GDP by Sector- agriculture 2.3%
GDP by Sector- Industry 38%
GDP by Sector- services 59.7%
GDP - composition, by end use household consumption: 49%

government consumption: 14.8%

investment in fixed capital: 27.5%

investment in inventories: 0.3%

exports of goods and services: 44.2%

imports of goods and services: -35.8%
Population Below Poverty Line 15%
Inflation Rate 3%
Labor Force 24,620,000
Labor Force By Occupation- agriculture 6.9%
Labor Force By Occupation- industry 23.6%
Labor Force By Occupation- services 69.4%
Unemployment Rate 3.3%
Fiscal Year calendar year
Annual Budget $248,300,000,000 (USD)
Budget Surplus or Deficit - percent of GDP 0.7%
Public Debt (% of GDP) 30.1%
Taxes and other revenues - percent of GDP 24.7%
Major Industries electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial Growth Rate 12.1%
Agriculture Products rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Exchange Rate per US Dollar South Korean won (KRW)
Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate 4.7%

Labor Force by Occupation- As reported by Korea, South

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